PREVIEW: WEEKEND GERMAN ACTION
Timothy Chandler and Nürnberg will look for a second straight victory when they visit Hamburg while Edson Buddle and Ingolstadt will try to break their winless streak against Braunschweig.
Bayer Leverkusen - TSG 1899 Hoffenheim
Both Fabian Johnson and Daniel Williams should be on the field for Hoffenheim on Friday evening when they pay a visit to Bayer Leverkusen.
Leverkusen backup keeper David Yelldell has not been in uniform for the team in their last few games and will likely not suit up for Friday's game.
The Hoffe are mired in perhaps their worst slump of the season, having gone four games since their last win, with a trio of those disappointing results coming against three of the worst four teams in the league.
The dim hope is that they have simply been playing to the level of their competition, and will raise their game to new heights against the current sixth-place team in the Bundesliga.
Leverkusen have been a bit of an enigma so far this season, following up one of their greatest wins of recent memory in the Champions League over Chelsea with a porous defensive performance last weekend in a 3-3 draw at Hertha.
Even though they are already perhaps too far off the pace of the top three teams in the league to make a serious run for the title, they have every chance of grabbing the Bundesliga's fourth Champions League qualification spot, and a win would help them keep the pressure on both Schalke and Werder in the race for that distinction.
Bayer Leverkusen are without injured keeper Rene Adler, although youngster Bernd Leno has done a fine job filling in for the German national teamer and will likely be their number-one keeper going forward.
In addition, they are without defender Ömer Toprak and midfielder Renato Augusto, the former with a pelvic injury and the latter with a knee problem.
Hoffenheim are missing two of their most important attacking pieces as both Roberto Firmino and Chinedu Obasi are out due to disciplinary reasons.
SC Freiburg - Hannover 96
Steve Cherundolo will likely be in Hannover's lineup on Saturday when they try to break free of their current slump with a trip to relegation-bound Freiburg.
Ever since Hannover's emotional win over league heavyweights Bayern in late-October, the team has fallen off the rails.
Their lone win since that memorable day was a gutsy win in Copenhagen in Europa League group play, however they have otherwise failed to win in their other six games across all competitions.
Their Wednesday-night loss to Liege in European play was of little consequence as they still were able to reach the competition's knockout round, however they are nevertheless coming into Saturday's game on a four-game league winless run that could see them finish the weekend in the bottom half of the standings.
Freiburg could be the remedy the team needs, as they have been nothing short of underwhelming all season long, winning just three times and coughing up a league's worst 30 goals.
Freiburg are without injured defenders Oliver Barth and Mensur Mujdza, along with midfielder Janm Rosenthal who is sidelined with a pulled muscle and midfielder Yacine Abdessadki with a flu infection.
Hannover continue to be without long-term injury concerns Leon Andreasen and Carlitos, along with midfielder Henning Hauger.
Hamburger SV - FC Nürnberg
Timothy Chandler and Nürnberg will look to build on last weekend's encouraging performance on Sunday when they pay a visit to Hamburg on Sunday.
Chandler's goal was the deciding factor in their narrow 1-0 win over Kaiserslautern, and the result helped them to snap a multi-month winless streak and pull clear of the drop zone.
They will almost certainly need to put in an equal, if not better performance against a resurgent Hamburg team that has broken free of their early woes and looks primed to ascend through the standings during the season's winter months.
While it took the team until their seventh game to register a win, they have lost just once in the time since, and are now perched one point ahead of the relegation playoff spot.
Hamburg are without the trio of Romeo Castelen, Marcus Berg and Mladen Petric, all due to various injuries.
For Nürnberg, defender Javier Pinola is out with a leg injury and forward Albert Bunjaku is working his way back to fitness from a calf problem.
FC Ingolstadt 04 - Eintracht Braunschweig
Edson Buddle and Ingolstadt will hope their new-found defensive fortitude will finally yield them a win when they host Eintracht Braunschweig on Friday evening.
It would appear that the regular blowouts suffered by Ingolstadt prior to the arrival of head coach Tomas Oral are a thing of the past. They have given up just a single goal in their last two games, by far their best extended work in front of goal so far this season.
Sadly, the team's attack has suffered as a result, as they have gone more than 180 minutes since their last score.
Depending on which Braunschweig team shows up to the Audi-Sportpark on Friday, they could be in for either a fun evening or a rough ride. The newly promoted team were 4-0 winners against Bochum last weekend, however were handily beaten 3-0 just one week before by Duisburg.
Ingolstadt are relatively healthy, as long-term absentee Leonhard Haas is the only player unavailable for selection.
Braunschweig have substantially more staffing concerns; defender Benjamin Kessel is out on a red card suspension, both Matthias Henn and Marcel Correia are absent from the defense with knee injuries, midfielder Steffen Bohl is also out with a knee problem, and fellow midfielder Markus Under has a pulled muscle.
Eintracht Frankfurt - Karlsruher SC
Luis Robles could be in for a busy shift on Saturday when Karlsruher SC heads north to visit the 2. Bundesliga's top scoring team Eintracht Frankfurt.
Ricardo Clark is not expected to suit up for the hosts.
Karlsruhe's defense simply hasn't gotten the job done this season, putting the team in their current predicament of struggling with yet another relegation fight.
Barring an unusually stout performance from their back line, matters won't get any better on Saturday against the second-place team in the league, and current leading scorers in the division.
Frankfurt have only one key absence, as forward Mohamadou Idrissou is sidelined with an ankle injury.
For Karlsruhe, starting keeper Dirk Orlishausen is still out with a shoulder injury, while the striking trio of Andrei Cristea, Moses Lamidi and Louis Clement Ngwat-Mahop are all injured.
Alfredo Morales has not appeared on the Hertha first-team bench as of late, and will likely not be with the team when they travel to FC Kaiserslautern on Saturday.
Terrence Boyd is not expected to be called into the Borussia Dortmund first team on Saturday for their trip to local rival Borussia Mönchengladbach.
Jermaine Jones is out of Schalke's lineup on yellow card suspension and will watch from the stands when they welcome struggling Augsburg on Sunday afternoon.
Matt Taylor will hope to keep his spot in Paderborn's starting lineup when they host St. Pauli on Friday evening.
Bobby Wood is out for the remainder of 2011 after undergoing knee surgery and will not be in uniform when they visit Alemannia Aachen on Sunday.
Preston Zimmerman should continue to earn substitute minutes for Darmstadt when they pay a visit to VfB Stuttgart's second team on Friday evening.
Amaechi Igwe has been a substitute as of late for Babelsberg, and will likely not be in their starting lineup on Saturday when they host SV Wehen Wiesbaden.