PREVIEW: WEEKEND GERMAN ACTION
Jermaine Jones will look to continue his resurgence with Schalke as they visit Leverkusen while Steve Cherundolo and Hannover face a tough home test against Bundesliga leaders FC Bayern.
FC Nürnberg - VfB Stuttgart
Timothy Chandler will look to help Nürnberg get back on the winning track on Saturday when the team hosts a surging VfB Stuttgart team.
As a result of last weekend's heartbreaking late loss to Wolfsburg thanks to a late penalty, Nürnberg's winless streak was extended to a disturbing four games, bringing the bottom three spots in the league uncomfortably near.
While they do still hold a four-point cushion ahead of the drop zone, a continuance of their recent play could very well drop them into the relegation places, a struggle they dearly hope to avoid
Conversely, Stuttgart are a team flying through league play at the moment, with their late-September loss to last-place Hamburg their only slip-up in well over a month.
They had no problems to dispatch of Hoffenheim last weekend with a convincing 2-0 win, and will be eager to potentially make the move all the way up to second place should they take all the points in Nürnberg's Frankenstadion.
Stuttgart's attack will be hobbled with the loss of leading frontman Pavel Pogrebnyak, who suffered a serious knee injury during the week.
They will also be without defenders Matthieu Delpierre and Georg Niedermeier along with forward Julian Schieber, all whom have yet to play a game this season due to long-term injuries.
Nürnberg are still forced to depend on the hands of third-string keeper Alexander Stephan as Raphael Schäfer and Patrick Rakovsky are still sidelined with injuries.
Additionally, midfielder Per Nilsson is still working to gain match fitness after a summer injury, and left back Javier Pinola is set to miss the game with a muscle strain in his hip, and forward Christian Eigler is out with an ankle injury.
TSG 1899 Hoffenheim - Borussia Mönchengladbach
Hoffenheim midfielders Danny Williams and Fabian Johnson are both available for selection and could take the field on Saturday when the team hosts Borussia Mönchengladbach.
After experiencing relatively strong starts, both the Hoffe and Gladbach have cooled off in recent weeks, with neither having won since prior to the recent international break.
Hoffenheim once again looked flaccid on the attack in their shut-out loss at Stuttgart last weekend, and having now gone three games without finding the net will be desperate to light up the scoreboard against the visiting Foals.
The task will not be an easy one, as Gladbach have the second-best defense in the league with just six allowed through nine games, although half of those have been leaked in their last two outings, which will surely give Holger Stanislawski's squad some hope heading into the game.
Hoffenheim have several, most notably that of captain Tobias Weis, who is suffering from illness. In addition, Sejad Salihovic is still out after being injured in September while on international duty with Bosnia, defender Matthias Jaissle is out for several months after undergoing surgery on his Achilles tendon, and keeper Tom Starke will miss the game with a head injury.
Gladbach have only two absences of note, with forward Raul Bobadilla set to miss the game with a pulled groin and Belgian forward Igor de Camargo with a knee injury.
Bayer Leverkusen - FC Schalke 04
Jermaine Jones looks to have re-established his spot in Schalke's midfield, and is expected to be in the team's starting lineup on Sunday afternoon as they visit Bayer Leverkusen.
Barring any unexpected injuries to Leverkusen number-one Bernd Leno, backup keeper David Yelldell will likely watch from the bench.
Jones made a strong case to keep his spot in Schalke's starting eleven, dishing up an assist on the team's first and ultimately winning goal in their straightforward 5-0 beat-down of AEK Larnaca in Europa League action on Thursday.
This was his first start since the opening weekend of Bundesliga play, and an overall string performance will have certainly shown head coach Huub Stevens that the American is ready to tackle the remainder of the season.
Similarly, Leverkusen were also successful in their midweek European adventure, scoring an important 2-1 win over Valencia in Champions League play to keep their sight on a possible berth in the knockout stage.
Schalke were making headlines on Friday after they signed Timo Hildebrand the one-time heir to Oliver Kahn's spot in the German nets, to offer stability in their own goal. The former Stuttgart standout has had a disappointing run in the last four years in multiple countries, but could very well revive his career while helping the Königsblauen return to the upper reaches of the Bundesliga.
Leverkusen are still missing long-term absence Rene Adler, although the youngster Leno has more than proven his worth as a worthy replacement. Additionally, defender Gonzalo Castro is on suspension for a red card, midfielder Tranquillo Barnetta is still working his way back to fitness from earlier injury woes, and the midfield duo of Renato Augusto and Michael Ortega are both out for the time being after undergoing knee surgery.
Hannover 96 - FC Bayern
Following their Europa League disappointment against Copenhagen, Steve Cherundolo and Hannover face an even tougher foe on Sunday when they host Bundesliga leaders FC Bayern.
A last-second equalizer by Copenhagen forward Cesar Santin robbed Hannover of their chance to move atop their Europa League group, but they will need to regroup or the results could be even more embarrassing on Sunday.
Bayern were also forced to settle for a draw in their midweek Champions League game, however it was far less of a bitter pill to swallow, as it came on the road against a heavily bunkered Napoli team, and didn't affect their place atop their respective group.
The game has all the markings of a tough go for the Reds, as, theyare coming off of a rather stale defeat at Cologne last weekend, while the Bavarians rolled over promoted team Hertha by a 4-0 margin.
Hannover's primary squad is nearly injury free, with long-term absences Leon Andreasen and Carlitos still missing. In addition, Polish striker Artur Sobiech will not be in the roster as he is still suspended for a red card in his debut appearance several weeks before.
The most notable absence for Bayern is Arjen Robben, who will be out for several weeks after undergoing an operation to repair a persisting muscular problem in his groin. In addition, Brazilian defender and part-time arsonist Breno is still working his way back to match fitness after a long spell out due to injury.
Alemannia Aachen - FC Ingolstadt 04
Edson Buddle will likely see time as a second-half substitute for Ingolstadt on Sunday when they are presented with a perfect chance to stop their freefall down the 2. Bundesliga standings in the form of a game against winless last-place team Aachen.
Ingolstadt have been a disaster in recent weeks, giving up a shocking total of 12 goals in their last three games, all losses, to drop into the automatic relegation places.
As they proved last season with their springtime surge, the long season can give more than ample time for a turnaround, however should they put in another stinker against winless Aachen, it could be a tough indicator that the worst can be expected.
Aachen have been one of the poorest attacking teams of the 2. Bundesliga in recent memory, netting just three times through 11 games, and depending on an average defense to occasionally rescue the odd draw.
They will hope that Ingolstadt's recent defensive woes could provide an opening to break out of their scoring slump, but even that might be too tough of an ask for an attack which would have trouble scoring on a below-average U-6 team.
Ingolstadt have a trio of players out; starting central defender Marino Biliskov is recovering from an ankle problem, Danish midfielder Kristoffer Andersen from a meniscus injury, and midfielder Leonhard Haas is still not ready to return to the field after a long absence.
Aachen have a fleet of absent players, as midfielder Bas Sibum is suspended with yellow card accumulation, keeper Boy Waterman is out with a hip injury, and midfielders Lennart Hartmann and Kevin Kratz due to other various knocks.
SV Darmstadt 98 - Chemnitzer FC
Preston Zimmerman should be in Darmstadt's starting lineup on Saturday when they try to break out of their slump against visiting Chemnitzer FC.
Last Friday's 1-0 loss at Unterhaching was a perfect summation of Darmstadt's recent woes, with the defense largely covering for a misfiring defense, only to give it away with a late gaffe in the final minutes.
This has left Darmstadt in a precarious position, hanging on just two points above the drop zone and needing to take a win any way they can to give themselves some breathing room.
Their visitors Chemnitz, who like Darmstadt are one of the other teams just promoted from the Regionalliga, could give them a perfect opportunity to get back on track, as the eastern German team has failed to win in their last three, with the most recent two being shut-out losses.
Darmstadt have most of their previously-injured players back in action, with defender Christian Beisel the only remaining player keeping the team medics busy with his knee problem. In addition forward Marcus Steegmann is suspended for the game for an earlier red card.
Chemnitz will be without recently-retired defender Andreas Richter, along with injured players Selim Aydemir, Pavel Dobry and Benjamin Förster.
Alredo Morales could see playing time for Hertha on Saturday when they host FSV Mainz.
Matt Taylor set up the Paderborn's tying goal while Bobby Wood was a late substitute for 1860 Munich on Friday evening for the teams' 1-1 draw in the Allianz Arena.
Luis Robles sat on Karlsruher's bench as backup keeper on Friday for their 0-0 draw at home against VfL Bochum.
Ricardo Clark will likely not suit up for Eintracht Frankfurt on Sunday when they host MSV Duisburg.
Amaechi Igwe has lost his spot in the Babelsberg defense in recent weeks, and will likely not start when they visit VfB Stuttgart II on Saturday.