PREVIEW: WEEKEND GERMAN ACTION
Amaechi Igwe and Babelsberg face and early six-pointer against fellow strugglers Carl Zeiss Jena while Preston Zimmerman and Darmstadt will try to run their unbeaten streak to three games.
Carl Zeiss Jena - SV Babelsberg 03
Amaechi Igwe will be in the Babelsberg starting lineup on Saturday when they face 18th-place Carl Zeiss Jena, in a game which both teams need to win in order to halt their early struggles at the bottom of the standings.
As the season nears its one-third mark, Babelsberg's destiny to be amongst the teams at the bottom of the 3. Liga fighting it out to avoid relegation has become abundantly clear.
Through 11 games, they have only won twice, with the lone high point in the last two months being a narrow victory over Oberhausen two weeks before, which is looking increasingly like a lone anomaly as they returned to their losing ways just days after.
Saturday's game at Jena - who are two places and two points below them in the standings - will be a strong indicator of whether they have the ability to duke it out in the mini-league of teams near the bottom, although it could prove to be too much as their hosts have had a steady hand as of late with no losses in their last three.
Jena will be without suspended starting defensive midfielder Alexander Voigt and midfielder Stefan Ronnenburg, who is out for the time being with a broken foot.
For Babelsberg, defender Florian Grossert will miss his second straight game with a pulled muscle, and fellow midfielder Christian Groß continues to be out for the long haul while recovering form an ACL tear.
FC Heidenheim - SV Darmstadt 98
Preston Zimmerman should get the start for Darmstadt on Saturday on their trip to fifth-place FC Heidenheim, as they try to extend their unbeaten streak to three games.
Darmstadt showed their defensive fortitude last weekend, holding off third-place Kickers Offenbach in a scoreless draw which gave them some hope that they might have more than a relegation scrap to look forward to.
This is a good sign coming into Saturday's game against Heidenheim, who although just three points off the division top spot, have struggled on the offensive end with just a pair of goals to their name in the last five games.
Regardless of their attacking woes, Heidenheim have done well for themselves overall despite a growing injury list. Defender Mathias Witteck returned to the field in last week's game after missing every game since the season opener, but was forced out in the 16th minute with an MCL tear and will continue to be out for awhile.
Additionally, the midfield duo of Martin Klarer and Marc Schnatterer are sidelined with respective calf and foot injuries, while forwards Adam Jabiri and Tobias Rühle continue their extended absences thanks to a groin problem and pulled muscle.
Darmstadt have just two absences, the suspended midfielder Danny Latza and striker Oliver Heil, who is recovering from a broken elbow.