PREVIEW: WEEKEND GERMAN ACTION
Danny Williams may start at centerback once again for Hoffenheim, while Bobby Wood will need to step up even more for the Lions without their captain and leading scorer.
Hamburg SV - TSG Hoffenheim
Despite a horror showing last week, Danny Williams could start at center back once again for Hoffenheim as they travel to Hamburg on Friday.
In last week's 4-1 loss to Bremen, now ex-coach Markus Babbel employed Williams at center back in attempt to fill in the gaps due to injuries. It was a match to forget, as Williams struggled playing out of position.
Despite interim coach Frank Kramer now in charge, Williams may again start instead of defender regular Matthieu Delpierre who is still not completely healthy, bu youth player Pelle Jensen may also be in consideration.
Fabian Johnson will likely start in his customary wingback slot, but Hoffenheim will miss Jannik Vestergaard and Tim Wiese with a shoulder injury and a knee injury respectively.
Hoffenheim isn't the only team limping into the match, although Hamburg has recorded four points in its last two matches.
Rafael van der Vaart will miss once again for Hamburg with a thigh injury, and he is joined on the injury list by Maximilian Beister, Marcell Jansen and Petr Jiracek with a slew of ailments.
VfB Stuttgart - Schalke 04
Jermaine Jones and Schalke look to end a slump at high-flying Stuttgart on Saturday.
The Royal Blues are currently riding a four-match winless streak, which has seen the team drop from second place and a title contender to fourth and in trouble of falling out of Champions League placement.
Things will be difficult for Schalke to turn things around against Stuttgart. The Schwaben are on fire, winning four of their last five matches across all competitions, and Stuttgart sits only one point out of the last European spot.
Schalke will be without Kyriakos Papadopoulos, Ibrahim Afellay and Marco Höger due to leg woes while Stuttgart has Sardar Tasci gone due to red card suspension and Cacau with a torn knee ligatment
FC Nuremberg - Fortuna Düsseldorf
Sitting only four points above Hoffenheim in the promotion playoff spot, Tim Chandler and Nuremberg aim to distance themselves further from the bottom of the standings against Düsseldorf on Saturday.
Both teams have turned around big slumps to get themselves out of the relegation zone. Nuremberg had lost six of seven matches at one point, but following a 1-1 with Bayern Munich, Der Club has tallied five in four matches to put itself in 14th place.
Düsseldorf recorded nine points in the first five matches, going unbeaten to start life in the Bundesliga. The team cooled off, losing four of its next five and dropping into the relegation zone, but they have rebounded and are riding a three-match unbeaten streak.
Midfielder Hiroshi Kiyotake is questionable for Nuremberg with the flu, while Robbie Kruse is questionable for Düsseldorf with back problems.
Hannover 96 - Bayer Leverkusen
Steve Cherundolo will captain Hannover, as they have the unenviable task of slowing down Leverkusen on Sunday.
Hannover have struggled in recent times, losing three of its last four league matches, seeing the team drop from the European spots to 12th place.
Unlike Hannover, Leverkusen is riding a high at the moment. Shockingly in second place, the away team has won six of its last seven league matches, including a big win over leader Bayern on October 28.
Hannover will be without Karim Haggui due to yellow card accumulation, while Leverkusen will be without Michal Kadlec and Karim Bellarabi due to a knee injury and a shin injury. Ömer Toprak is also questionable for Leverkusen because of back problems.
American keeper David Yelldell just hopes to warm the bench for Bayer.
Jahn Regensburg - 1860 Munich
With captain Benjamin Lauth out, Bobby Wood will bear the pressure of leading the offensive attack against Regensburg on Sunday.
The Lions received the news on Wednesday that Lauth must serve a four-match suspension for elbowing another player during Munich's 1-1 tie with Aalen. In that match, Wood scored his first ever professional goal.
It's a good time to be without their captain and leading scorer, as Regensburg are major candidates for relegation into the 3. Bundesliga. The hosts sit in last place in the 2. Bundesliga and ride a nine-match winless streak into the match.
Along with Lauth, the Lions will be without Necat Aygün and Maximilian Nicu with muscular problems. Regensburg will be without suspended Wilson Kamavuaka, while Christian Rahn, Philipp Ziereis and Oliver Hein miss out with injury.
Darmstadt 98 - SV Babelsberg
Preston Zimmerman will start up top for Darmstadt against Babelsberg on Saturday.
The American forward is making the move to help the Lilies' anemic offense, which is the fourth worst in the 3. Bundesliga. Zimmerman showed his ability to score with two goals in last weekend's tie against Unterhaching from the left side of the midfield.
Darmstadt hosts one of the few teams that have a worse goal record in Babelsberg. The guests have scored only 17 goals this season, but due to a stingy defense, they sit in 13th place with 23 points.
Babelsberg will be without goalkeeper Frederic Löhe due to an ankle injury and midfielder Benjamin Kauffmann with a leg issue.
American forward Andrew Wooten should be on the bench for Sandhausen against FSV Frankfurt on Friday.
Winger Joe Gyau should start St. Pauli's match against Aue on Sunday on the bench.
Forward Jerome Kiesewetter probably won't feature for Stuttgart II against Kickers Offenbach on Friday.
Center back Royal-Dominique Fennell continues to recover from a groin injury and will miss the Stuttgart Kickers' match against Wiesbaden on Saturday.
Münster's Matthew Taylor will sit out the second match of his three-match suspension for a red card he received against Babelsberg on November 24.