DAVID SMITH - Friday, August 19, 2011
Timothy Chandler and Nürnberg face a tough visit to the home of the defending Bundesliga champions while Steve Cherundolo and Hannover will hope to keep their Europa League momentum rolling against Hertha.
Borussia Dortmund - FC Nürnberg
After failing to pick up any points in their home-opening loss to Hannover, Timothy Chandler and Nürnberg have an even tougher task ahead of them this weekend when they visit Borussia Dortmund's home of Westfalenstadion.
Nürnberg spent much of the second half against Hannover knocking on the door for an equalizer, but were unable to find the right key and were forced to finish the game completely empty handed.
With the weight of heavy expectations upon their shoulders, Dortmund also suffered the same fate in their road loss at Hoffenheim on Saturday, being unable to recover from an early goal conceded to their opponents to lose a tight contest.
The last meeting between these two teams in Dortmund's home stadium less than four months ago was a memorable one for the hosts, as their 2-0 win was the final clincher of their first league title in nearly a decade.
Chandler had missed that particular game with a foot injury, however will be ready and waiting to test the Dortmund defense on Saturday.
The hosts have several players out due to injury, most importantly forward Lucas Barrios who is suffering from a pulled muscle. Additionally, defenders Julian Koch and Patrick Owomoyela are out, the former with an ACL injury and the latter as he regains full fitness from a hip problem.
Nürnberg are slowly seeing injury concerns mount; starting keeper Raphael Schäfer is out for the time being tendon problems in his knee, putting his 18 year-old backup Patrick Rakovsky, who joined the team over the summer from Schalke's youth team and has yet to play above the U-19 level.
In addition, Swedish defender Per Nilsson must still await his debut with the team as he recovers from an Achilles problem, midfielder Daniel Didavi is working his way back from a knee operation, and fellow midfielder Mike Frantz is still not yet ready to return from his long absence.
Hannover 96 - Hertha Berlin
Steve Cherundolo and Hannover will hope to continue riding the wave of their Europa League win over Sevilla on Sunday afternoon when Alfredo Morales and Hertha Berlin visit the AWD-Arena.
After being held out of Hannover's first two Bundesliga games to allow a full recovery from his Gold Cup injury, Cherundolo was in the starting lineup on Thursday night for the Reds' remarkable 2-1 victory over Spaniards Sevilla FC in the first round of Europa League qualifying.
This gave Hannover a four-game winning streak across three competitions to start the 2011-12 season, and they have a great chance to stretch the feat yet another game against a Hertha team that has struggled in their return to the top flight.
Morales made his 1. Bundesliga debut for Hertha last weekend after entering their 2-2 draw against Hamburg midway through the second half, and was on the field as they snatched a last-gasp equalizer to salvage a point.
Even with the result they are still winless through two games after storming through the 2. Bundesliga last season, and will need to pick up the pace or risk falling into a similar relegation battle which dragged them down two seasons ago.
Hannover are missing long-term midfield injuries Leon Andreasen and Carlitos, along with new arrival Artur Sobiech as the forward is regaining his fitness after a knee injury.
Hertha will be without backup keeper Sascha Burchert, Czech defender Roman Hubnik and midfielder Nico Schulz, all due to various injuries.
SpVgg Greuther Fürth - FC Ingolstadt 04
Edson Buddle will hope that his goalscoring feat of last weekend will earn him more time on the field when Ingolstadt face area 2. Bundesliga rivals Fürth on Friday.
Buddle's late goal was a lifesaver for Ingolstadt on Sunday, as it helped the team to salvage one point against visiting FSV Frankfurt.
They are, however, still winless on the season, and will be tested heavily by a Fürth team that looks set to make their annual - although ultimately failed - run at promotion to the top flight.
The Cloverleaves have experienced a strong start to their new season, winning three of four to find themselves in the thick of a four-team tie vying for second place in the division.
Even though the two teams are not traditional enemies, the short hour-long commute separating Ingolstadt and Fürth will give the game a derby feel and add a bit of pressure on both to ultimately come out victorious.
Ingolstadt coach Benno Möhlmann has a fully healthy squad to choose from while Fürth are missing only striker Kingsley Onuegbu as he still in the final recovery stages from a severe ankle injury.
Dynamo Dresden - SC Paderborn 07
Matt Taylor will likely be used as a second-half spark for Paderborn on Sunday when the team tries to break free from their current slump on their trip east to visit Dynamo Dresden.
A promising start for Paderborn during which they won two and drew once in league and cup play has slowly deteriorated, with each of their last two games ending in shut-out losses.
This has dropped them down into the bottom half of the standings, where they are currently locked in a five-way tie on four points and threatening to move further down towards the bottom three.
One of the other teams in this jumble and trying to avoid a similar fate are newcomers Dynamo Dresden, who have alternated between excellent and flaccid since the beginning of their season.
Dynamo shocked the country by beating Bayer Leverkusen in the opening round of the DFB Cup, and have momentum working for them after coming off of a 4-0 thrashing of fellow easterners Union Berlin last weekend.
While the only significant absence for Paderborn is that of defender Florian Mohr due to a knee operation, Dresden have more pressing staffing concerns.
Both midfielder Cristian Fiel and striker Pavel Fort are forced to watch from the stands on card suspension, while the midfield trio of Lars Jungnickel Gerrit Müller and Filip Trojan are all forced to miss the game due to various injuries and illnesses.
SV Babelsberg 03 - FC Heidenheim
Amaechi Igwe will be in Babelsberg's starting lineup on Saturday afternoon as they try to break free of their three-game winless run against visiting Heidenheim.
Babelsberg were unable to hang onto a first-half lead in their midweek trip to Preußen Münster, conceding an equalizing goal two minutes from full time for their third straight without all three points.
This mini-slump has slowly pulled them into the lower half of the 3. Liga standings after five games, and their upcoming opponents for Saturday won't make reversing the trend any easy work.
An undefeated start of three wins and two draws has positioned Heidenheim in a three-way tie for second place in the 3. Liga, and consecutive shut-outs to go with a recent pair of three-goal outputs on the attacking end shows they are a team which can get the job done on both sides of the ball.
For Babelsberg, the long-term absence of midfielder Christian Groß has proved to be a crucial blow, and they will be further weakened in the midfield with the suspension of Ukrainian Anton Makarenko after he picked up a foolish straight red in the closing seconds of their midweek draw.
Heidenheim are not without their own injury woes, as midfielder and team captain Marc Schnatterer will be out for some time after he was pulled from their midweek game with a broken foot.
Michael Bradley is still in Borussia Mönchengladbach's doghouse and will not suit up for their Saturday-afternoon date with visiting VfL Wolfsburg.
Daniel Williams has managed to find his way out of Freiburg's own doghouse for the time being, and is in contention for the starting spot at right back on Saturday when they visit the mighty Werder Bremen.
David Yelldell will be on the bench on Saturday for his team's trip to Stuttgart, as new youngster Bernd Leno tries to avoid being the next victim of head coach Robin Dutt's half-witted attempts to adapt Donald Trump's famed show The Apprentice to Leverkusen's goalkeeping situation.
After being left out of their midweek Europa League squad, Jermaine Jones could be an option in the midfield for Schalke on Sunday as they head to Mainz and try to erase all memories of their humiliating 2-0 Thursday-night loss to Finnish minnows HJK.
Bobby Wood will be on 1860's bench and will be looking for his first appearance of the season on Friday when they head west to visit Fortuna Düsseldorf.
Luis Robles will likely be manning the Karlsruhe bench on Sunday for the team's trip east to visit Energie Cottbus.
Ricardo Clark will hope to take the field at some point on Sunday afternoon when Eintracht Frankfurt head across town to take on city rivals FSV Frankfurt.
Preston Zimmerman has been left on the bench since Darmstadt's opening game, and will likely not play on Saturday when they host 3. Liga leaders Jahn Regensburg.