PREVIEW: WEEKEND GERMAN ACTION
The Rückrunde begins this weekend, with Fabian Johnson, Danny Williams and Hoffenheim in a hole and Michael Parkhurst possibly starting for Augsburg.
TSG 1899 Hoffenheim - Borussia Mönchengladbach
With Fabian Johnson, Danny Williams and Hoffenheim stuck deep in the relegation fight and half the season to go, they host the Foals on Saturday in hopes starting a huge turnaround and saving their season.
Johnson will man the left back position, while Williams will start 2013 the way 2012 ended - on the bench.
The first half didn't go as planned for either team, but Mönchengladbach managed to put itself in prime position to make a run at European places after a run of five matches unbeaten in the league before the winter break.
The Foals sit in eighth place, one point back of Mainz and Freiburg.
Unlike its opponents, the wheels have come completely off for Hoffenheim. The team rode a six-match losing streak into the break, dropping it into 16th place and the promotion playoff spot. Hoffenheim sits seven points behind Wolfsburg for safety.
Hoffenheim will be without Stephan Schröck, Sebastian Rudy, Michael Gregoritisch and Sven Schipplock because of back problems, a foot injury, an ankle operation and an Achilles' tendon tear. The Foals are not reporting any significant injuries at this time.
1. FC Nürnberg - Hamburger SV
Tim Chandler and Nuremberg will look to start 2013 off right against Hamburg on Sunday.
Der Club recorded nine points in its last six matches of 2012 to cement itself above the relegation zone. Nürnberg owns an eight-point cushion over Hoffenheim, but it will want to keep that gap for as long as possible.
Thought to be in another relegation scrap after struggling last season, Hamburg shocked most in Germany with a strong performance in the first half of the season, including a stretch of six matches in which the team picked up 13 points.
The Rotenhosen sit in 10th place with 24 points, just two points out of a European spot.
Nürnberg is not reporting any injuries, while Hamburg will be without Petr Jiracek, as he continues to come back from a shin injury.
Fortuna Düsseldorf - FC Augsburg
Michael Parkhurst could start his first match for Augsburg, when the Fuggerstädter travel to Düsseldorf on Sunday.
Reports out of Augsburg say that Parkhurst hasn't quite gelled with his teammates yet, but with Augsburg mired in the relegation zone, the team might throw Parkhurst to the fire at either fullback position.
Augsburg needs some sort of spark, recording four points a 10-match winless streak going into the winter break. The team has tallied only one win in 17 matches this season.
Düsseldorf held its own in the Bundesliga after earning promotion last season. Although losing 5-0 to Bayern Munich, Düsseldorf earned a tie against Dortmund and beat fourth-place Frankfurt, as the team gained 13 points in the last five league matches.
Augsburg has a laundry list of injuries, including defender Sebastian Langkamp with adductor problems, defender Dominik Reinhardt with a broken foot, captain Paul Verhaegh and midfielder Andreas Ottl with ankle injuries and midfielder Milan Petrzela with knee problems.
Augsburg will also be without Giovanni Sio because of a red card suspension, Kevin Vogt because of yellow card accumulation and Aristide Bancé because of the African Cup of Nations.
Düsseldorf will be without defender Jens Langeneke as he recovers from a hip operation, midfielder Du-Ri Cha due to military service in South Korea, forward Nando Rafael with a torn abductor muscle and forward Andrey Voronin with a broken nose.
Both Steve Cherundolo and Jermaine Jones will miss when Hannover travels to Schalke on Friday. Cherundolo has knee problems, and Jones starts his three-match suspension for a red card he received in Schalke's 3-1 loss to Stuttgart on December 8.