DAVID SMITH - Friday, May 6, 2011
Steve Cherundolo and Hannover will look to do their part to give the team a hope for the Champions League while Timothy Chandler and Nürnberg will look to do the same in their fading push for the Europa League.
VfB Stuttgart - Hannover 96
Steve Cherundolo head to Stuttgart on Saturday, knowing that even a win might not be enough to help their cause as they push for the Champions League.
The team's loss at Borussia Mönchengladbach last weekend saw the Reds passed by Bayern for third place, leaving them now with a two-point disadvantage as they push for third place.
Their spot in the Europa League is all but guaranteed, however they will need some help if they hope to reach their goal of Europe's top competition.
At the bare minimum, they will need the Bavarians to lose at least one game in order to make up the effective three points counting goal differential, but with Bayern facing a pair of poor teams in Stuttgart and St. Pauli, the light is dimming and a berth in the Europa League likely awaits Cherundolo and his teammates.
Stuttgart do appear to have broken free from what looked earlier in the season to be a sure relegation to the 2. Bundesliga, and are now sitting pretty on 39 points, and more importantly a nearly-safe five point advantage over the playoff spot.
The team has a number of players missing; defenders Philipp Degen and Christian Molinaro are out with respective groin and adductor problems, midfielder Timo Gebhart with an ankle injury and forward Ciprian Marica due to suspension.
Hannover coach Mirko Slomka has no major players out for the game.
FC Nurnberg - 1899 Hoffenheim
Timothy Chandler should be back in Nürnberg's starting lineup on Saturday when they host Hoffenheim in a must-win game for their Europa League hopes.
A loss at Dortmund left them five points back of fifth-place Mainz in the race for Europe, and with two games left, they need a near-miracle to overtake their western foes.
With one of Mainz's games coming at home against dead-last St. Pauli this is likely an untenable scenario, but Chandler and his fellow Nürnberg teammates will still be pushing for a victory in their final home game of the season on Saturday against a fairly average Hoffenheim team.
The Hoffe have been relatively poor as of late, losing four of their last six and only managing to take all three points only once during this span of time.
Nürnberg have a pair of players suspended in defender Juri Judt and forward Albert Bunjaku, and are additionally still without midfielder Maik Frantz who has been out all of 2011 after undergoing toe surgery.
Hoffenheim are without a pair of important players, with midfielders Boris Vukcevic and Tobias Weis missing due to a broken leg and ankle injury.
MSV Duisburg - SC Paderborn 07
With only league standing and pride left to play for, David Yelldell and Duisburg will likely have their view turned towards their upcoming German Cup final when they host Paderborn in 2. Bundesliga action.
A poor close to the season has seen the Zebras fall from sure promotion contention to what looks to be a mid-standings finish. They are currently in seventh, ahead of 1860 Munich only on total goals scored, a far cry from the lofty standards which they had set earlier in the season.
With the German Cup final just two weeks away, coach Milan Sasic will be using the time to motivate and sharpen his quad for the formidable task of taking down Schalke in the Berlin Olympic Stadium, and a fairly lackluster Paderborn squad which was only able to mathematically escape relegation last weekend will serve as a good foil.
Duisburg are missing defender Julian Koch to a season-ending knee injury along with forwards Srdjan Baljak and Stefan Maierhofer to knee ligament and foot injuries.
Paderborn have a fleet of players missing; midfielders Daniel Brückner and Markus Krösche are both suspended, defender Markus Palionis has a nose injury, and forwards David Jansen and Gaetano Manno both have knee injuries.
Arminia Bielefeld - Karlsruher SC
Luis Robles should be manning the nets for Karlsruhe on Sunday when they look to take a huge step towards survival on their visit to last-place Arminia Bielefeld.
Karlsruhe currently hold a two-point advantage over both Osnabrück and Oberhausen in the race against the drop to the 3. Liga, and could come out of the weekend with their spot guaranteed should they manage to beat the worst team in the league.
They have not managed to win in their last six games, managing just three draws in the process, however an equally poor showing by the teams below them has seen them still manage to stay two points clear of the drop with two games left.
Bielefeld will be missing a pair of midfielders, with Arne Feick out with a broken nose and Sebastian Heidinger due to knee problem.
Karlsruhe have a trio of players out; midfielder Timo Staffeldt is suspended while strikers Serhat Akin and Christian Timm are sidelined with respective shoulder and knee problems.
TSV 1860 Munich - FC Ingolstadt 04
With their 2. Bundesliga survival now guaranteed, Edson Buddle and Ingolstadt will make the short drive south to face area rivals 1860 Munich in what is expected to be a packed Allianz Arena.
Bobby Wood is injured and won't be available for 1860 Munich
Ingolstadt celebrated their fortunes with a scoreless draw last weekend at home against Erzgebirge Aue. The result was their ninth in a row without a loss, however they will have a considerably tougher task to extend it to ten on Sunday afternoon in Munich.
1860 have gone on a charge over the final two months of the season in racking up a number of impressive wins, particularly their last two over top teams Hertha and Fürth, and will have the backing of a huge crowd in the Allianz to push them as they try to improve on their current eighth-place standing over the final two weeks of the season.
1860 are missing only Stefan Bell who is recovering from an ankle injury while Ingolstadt will only be without Andreas Buchner as the midfielder works his way back to health.
Rot Weiss Ahlen - Rot-Weiß Erfurt
Matt Taylor and Rot Weiss Ahlen are down to their final breaths and need a victory on Saturday when they host Rot-Weiß Erfurt.
A highly inconsistent season and a three-point penalty by the league for financial issues has left Ahlen on the brink of a second straight relegation.
Heading into Saturday's do-or-die game, they are one point away from safety, however realistically need to make up two on Burghausen due to a significantly worse goal differential.
Fourth-place Erfurt - who are pushing for the 3. Liga's promotion playoff spot - will be a tough opponent for Taylor and his teammates, however pales in comparison to their task in the final week, a visit to already-promoted Rostock.
Ahlen are without starting midfielder Sebastian Ghasemi-Nobakht due to a muscle pull while Erfurt have a full squad available.
Ricardo Clark has a pulled calf muscle and will have to sit out on Saturday when Eintracht Frankfurt host FC Cologne.
Daniel Williams will hope to see action from Freiburg's bench on Saturday when the team travels to Borussia Mönchengladbach.
Alfredo Morales will likely not be included in Hertha Berlin's squad on Sunday when the team heads south to visit Erzgebirge Aue.