PREVIEW: WEEKEND GERMAN ACTION
Fabian Johnson, Danny Williams and Hoffenheim will try to hold onto the playoff spot, while Jermaine Jones and Schalke are in dire straits going to Munich.
Eintracht Frankfurt - FC Nuremberg
Despite travelling to Honduras and back to Germany in a matter of days, Tim Chandler will likely start Saturday for Nuremberg versus Frankfurt.
With things tightening up at the bottom of the Bundesliga standings, Der Club picked up a huge win last Saturday against Mönchengladbach, giving Chandler and Co. an eight-point cushion over Hoffenheim in the playoff spot.
Frankfurt will make Nuremberg's task of increasing that cushion difficult. The Eagles hold the last Champions League spot and have won four of the team's last five Bundesliga matches.
Midfielder Timo Gebhart will miss for Nuremberg because of a groin injury, while Frankfurt is not reporting any significant injuries.
Hannover 96 - 1899 Hoffenheim
After climbing out of a direct-relegation spot with a win over Freiburg last weekend, Fabian Johnson, Danny Williams and Hoffenheim will try to keep themselves in a promotion position when they travel to a Steve Cherundolo-less Hannover on Saturday.
Johnson will man the left back position as usual, while Williams will start on the bench. Cherundolo underwent arthroscopic knee surgery on Wednesday, and the timetable for his return is unknown.
Hoffenheim ended a nine-match winless streak last weekend against Freiburg - a streak that saw the team drop into the relegation zone. Thanks to the win and an Augsburg tie, Hoffenheim gave itself a chance at survival.
Like Hoffenheim, Hannover has struggled recently, though not to the same extent. The Reds have lost three of their last four league matches, allowing 10 goals over that span.
Hoffenheim will be without Sebastian Rudy because of an ankle operation, Sejad Salihovic with a meniscus tear and Sven Schipplock with a torn Achilles tendon. Along with Cherundolo, Hannover will be without Mario Eggimann because of an ankle operation and Lars Stindl because of a syndesmosis injury.
Bayern Munich - Schalke 04
Jermaine Jones and Schalke will look to end their free fall against league leader Bayern Munich on Saturday.
Jones returned to Schalke's starting lineup last weekend in the Schalke's 2-1 loss to Greuther Fürth and should start once again for the Royal Blues.
During the last 10 matches in all competitions, Schalke has recorded only one win - a 5-4 defeat of injury-ravaged Hannover on January 18. Schalke dropped from second to sixth place in the standings, almost completely out of a European spot.
Schalke is playing one of the last teams it wants to see - Bayern. The Bavarians are running away with the league with a 12-point lead over title-holders Dortmund and are currently riding a 16-match unbeaten streak across all competitions.
Further complicating matters for Schalke, Bayern thrashed the Royals Blue in a friendly over the winter break, 5-0, giving the home team a clear psychological advantage.
The Royal Blues have a laundry list of players out. The team will be without Kyriakos Papadopoulos, Ibrahim Afellay and Ciprian Marica with a host of leg issues, while Klaas-Jan Huntelaar will miss out with an eye problem.
Christian Fuchs is suspended due to yellow card accumulation, while Julian Draxler is questionable with a cold.
Xherdan Shaqiri and Holger Badstuber are out for Bayern with an ankle injury and a torn ACL, while Bastian Schweinsteiger is questionable with an ankle injury.
SV Sandhausen - FC St. Pauli
Andrew Wooten will start once again at right outside midfielder for Sandhausen, as the team hosts Joe Gyau and St. Pauli on Sunday.
Gyau has a chance to start, with Fin Bartels sitting out because of yellow card accumulation. Three players - Lennart Thy, Kevin Schindler and Gyau - are all vying for the opportunity to play from the outset, although Thy is the frontrunner to get the nod.
Wooten and his teammates are mired in the relegation battle, sitting two points out of the playoff spot at the bottom of the 2.Bundesliga. The team has won one match in the last 11 league matches, recording three points over that span.
If the team isn't too careful, St. Pauli could find itself in the relegation fight. St. Pauli sit six points above Dresden in the playoff spot and will want to keep its cushion with a win over Sandhausen.
Daniel Schultz and Nico Klotz will miss because of an adductor injury and a pinched nerve, respectively, while Florian Kringe joins Bartels inactive list for St. Pauli with a broken nose.
Hansa Rostock - SV Darmstadt 98
Preston Zimmerman and Darmstadt look to end a long winless streak at Rostock on Saturday.
The Lilies are riding a six-match unbeaten streak going into this weekend and have won one in their last 12 matches. Darmstadt sit in last place in the 3.Liga thanks to that stretch and needs to make up a seven-point deficit from safety with one match in hand.
Rostock is going through a rough patch itself, going winless in the team's last seven matches. The team has recorded only one point over that span and dropped to 10th place.
Rostock will be without Ken Leemans, Ondrej Smetana, Nils Quaschner and Alexandre Noel Mendy because of yellow card accumulation, a foot injury, knee problems and a red card suspension, respectively. The Lilies are not reporting any injuries at this time.
FC Heidenheim - Preußen Münster
Matt Taylor and Münster can put some distance between themselves and a promotion rival at Heidenheim on Saturday.
The Eagles moved into second place in the 3.Liga with a scoreless tie against Wiesbaden on goal differential, as the top three teams are tied on points. In Münster's latest five-match unbeaten streak, the team has dropped only two points.
Heidenheim also is flying high right now. The team has won four-straight matches and six in the last seven, and because of this, Heidenheim into fifth place, four points behind Münster in the standings.
Münster will be without Patrick Kirsch because of a red card suspension, while Heidenheim are not reporting any injuries.
Michael Parkhurst will likely start on the bench for Augsburg when the team hosts Mainz on Sunday.
Bobby Wood will be one of 1860 Munich coach Alexander Schmidt's first options off the bench at Duisburg on Saturday.
Center back Royal-Dominique Fennell continues to recover from groin surgery and will be unavailable for Stuttgart Kickers at Osnabrück on Sunday.
Following a heavy snow fall in Stuttgart, a sports field commission postponed the match between Jerome Kiesewetter's Stuttgart II and Unterhaching that was originally scheduled for Friday.