DAVID SMITH - Friday, March 19, 2010
Ricardo Clark is expected to make his Bundesliga debut against the stiffest competition in the league while David Yelldell will prowl Koblenz's goal as they try to work they way out of the drop zone.
FC Cologne - Borussia Mönchengladbach
Michael Bradley should retain his starting role in central midfield for the Foals on Friday as they will be hopeful of breaking out of their own cold streak against a Cologne team which is having similar problems to find their way into the win column.
The Foals' season has fallen off the rails in recent weeks, culminated by a combined 0-7 scoreline in losing their last two in the league to Wolfsburg and Dortmund.
A seven-point gap above the relegation line means they still seem to be safe from the drop even with their poor run, but a win against a likewise struggling Cologne, winless over their last six in the league, will provide a bit of added insurance to keep the Gladbach faithful from worrying about another nail-biting finish.
Foals coach Michael Frontzeck has a full squad available for the game, meaning he could choose to sit some of his under-performing starters in an attempt to shake things up or give weary legs a seemingly-needed rest.
Cologne will be without central defender Christopher Schorch due to an ACL injury, as well as midfielders Adil Chihi and Yalcin Taner who are also both sidelined with injuries.
Eintracht Frankfurt - FC Bayern
With a spate of injuries and suspensions depleting the Frankfurt squad, Ricardo Clark will likely be handed the starting defensive midfield role on Saturday, however he will have his work cut out for him as his first Bundesliga appearance will pit him against a formidable Bayern squad who are looking to be favorites to hoist the league title.
Having finally recovered his fitness after a minor ankle setback last month, Clark looks set to finally take the field for his new team as he tries to impress team officials enough to receive the three-year contract which has been dangled before him upon his arrival in Germany.
Clark's entry into the team's midfield comes as they are mired in an awful run including three straight losses and a shocking goals-against record, allowing him to stake his clam for a starting role with a strong performance.
The suspension of Selim Teber due to picking up a pair of yellow cards in last weekend's loss to Hannover has opened the door for Clark, however a host of other injuries and suspensions to the team could leave them shorthanded against the Bavarians.
Defenders Maik Franz and Patrick Ochs join Teber in the suspension doghouse while Aleksandar Vasoski is recovering from a knee operation. Midfielder Zlatan Bajramovic is also sidelined after undergoing surgery on his Achilles tendon, while the Greek forward tandem of Ioannis Amanatidis and Nikos Liberopoulos are also still out with injury.
Making Frankfurt's task even tougher is the prospect of facing the full firepower of the current Bundesliga leaders, who are undefeated in the league since late-September. Only defender Martin Demichelis is out due to a face injury and occasional starting forward Mario Gomez is sidelined with a calf strain, meaning the still-lethal Miroslav Klose could get the nod up top.
VfB Stuttgart - Hannover 96
With a pair of substitute appearances for Hannover during the last two games, healthy-again Steve Cherundolo could find himself pushed back into the starting as the Reds go for a third straight win on their trip to Stuttgart on Saturday.
A disastrous run of ten straight losses had the team looking ahead to a future in the 2. Bundesliga, but a quick turnaround with six points in their last two outings has given them reason for hope.
They currently occupy the 16th-place relegation playoff spot, and could possibly leapfrog Nürnberg to safety with a win or tie in Stuttgart.
Grabbing a win in the Mercedes-Benz Arena is by no means out of the question, as their hosts have been a mediocre home team this season, winning just five of thirteen.
They are also coming off a demoralizing 4-0 defeat on Wednesday in Barcelona's Camp Nou to exit the Champions League knockout stage, placing momentum squarely on the side of Hannover.
Mirko Slomka has a number of injuries to his midfield, with on-loan Elson sidelined due to a knee injury, Jan Rosenthal recovering from a hip problem and both Jacek Krzynowek and Altin Lala also spending time on the training table.
Additionally, Sal Zizzo continues to recover from an ACL injury suffered during the fall.
The hosts are a fairly healthy bunch, with only backup keeper Sven Ulreich and defender Arthur Boka out with respective leg and shoulder problems.
SC Freiburg - FSV Mainz
After closing out Freiburg's close loss to Bayern as a substitute, Daniel Williams will hope to get back on the field against visiting Mainz on Saturday as they look to snap their 12-game winless streak.
Following decent start to their first season back in the top flight, Freiburg have seen their hopes for a lengthy stay begin to crumble as they have fallen steadily towards the bottom of the league.
Their fellow promotees Mainz have held their act together far better, and are looking to have an outside shot at a Europa League place, as they currently occupy seventh place, just five points off the pace of fifth-place Hamburg.
Freiburg have a trio of injuries, with defenders Du-Ri Cha and Pavel Krmas out with respective strains, and Striker Mohamadou Idrissou on yellow card accumulation.
Mainz have more significant staffing issues, as defender Tim Hoogland is recovering from a knee operation, midfielders Andreas Ivanschitz and Zsolt Löw both out with adductor and ankle issues, forward Chadli Amri also with an ankle problem, and finally scoring threat Aristide Bance sitting due to a red card picked up last week against Cologne.
Mainz's Jared Jeffery has been spending the his time so far as a fixture Mainz's second team, and will likely continue to do so this week.
TuS Koblenz - SpVgg Greuther Fürth
David Yelldell and Koblenz face a considerable uphill climb if they hope to avoid relegation, making Friday's game against visiting Fürth the first of a series of do-or-die encounters.
Koblenz scored a valuable shutout win over Ahlen last weekend, maintaining a slim chance to worm their way back out of the league's cellar and to another season in the 2. Bundesliga.
A win would still leave them in one of the two automatic relegation spots as they still face a five-point gap, however as both Frankfurt and Rostock face currently-hot opponents in the upper half of the standings, it would go a long way to cut the deficit.
They take the field with Zoltan Steiber the only regular starter missing, as he is recovering from a leg injury. Defenders Martin Hudec and Philipp Langen continue to be absent with respective ankle and hand injuries
Fürth are without a trio of players, as defender Jan Mauersberger and midfielder Bernd Nehrig are both ill and forward Sami Allagui is recovering from a knee problem.
Jermaine Jones will sit out Schalke's trip to Hamburg on Sunday as he is still recovering from a leg injury suffered over the previous summer.
Matt Taylor will take no part as FSV Frankfurt will try to climb entirely clear of the relegation zone on Sunday on their trip to 1860 Munich.
Luis Robles will watch from the bench on Monday evening as Kaiserslautern will attempt to build on their seven-point lead atop the league when they pay a visit to Fortuna Düsseldorf.