DAVID SMITH - Friday, August 26, 2011
Steve Cherundolo and Hannover will try to keep their momentum alive against visiting Mainz while Timothy Chandler and Nürnberg can break their losing streak with a win against Bavarian rivals Augsburg.
FC Nürnberg - FC Augsburg
Timothy Chandler and Nürnberg need a win to stop their fall down the Bundesliga standings, and have a good chance to earn their first win since opening day when they host winless Augsburg on Saturday.
The promise of Nürnberg's opening-day win at Hertha has slowly dissipated, with consecutive losses to Hannover and Dortmund dropping them into the bottom half of the standings.
They fell victim to a second-half charge by the reigning champions last weekend, but fortunately will have the perfect chance to bounce back against a freshly-promoted Augsburg team which most expect to be struggling near the drop zone for the entirety of their inaugural season in the Bundesliga.
Augsburg were victimized by Fabian Johnson and Hoffenheim in front of a home audience last weekend, and are still searching for their first win after three games, with only two points to their name.
Nürnberg continue to have key injury problems; starting keeper Raphael Schäfer is out for the time being after undergoing surgery, putting pressure on his 18 year-old replacement Patrick Rakovsky.
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.
Augsburg also have a number of absences; defender Paul Verhaegh is sidelined with a knee problem, and the striking trio of Stephan Hain, Torsten Oehrl and Nando Rafael are all out with various injuries.
SC Freiburg - VfL Wolfsburg
An ongoing injury crisis at Frieburg could force Daniel Williams into the starting lineup for a second straight week on Saturday when the team hosts VfL Wolfsburg.
Williams finally escaped his team's doghouse where he had been residing in the midst of a contract dispute to take the field in last weekend's wild 5-3 loss at Werder Bremen.
Williams had an equally rough afternoon as his fellow defenders, however with injuries depleting the back line, there is little that head coach Marcus Sorg can do other than hope they have learned from last week's mistakes.
Along with their winless hosts, Wolfsburg are also experiencing a rough season, with the embarrassing loss to fourth-division RB Leipzig in the first round of the DFB Cup and a pair of losses to Bayern and Gladbach only offset by their single win three weeks ago against bottom-feeders Cologne.
Freiburg have two crucial absences from the defense, as Heiko Butscher and Mensur Mujdza continue to be sidelined with respective thigh and knee problems. Additionally, midfielder Jan Rosenthal is also forced to watch from the stands with a knee injury.
For Wolfsburg, veteran defender Arne Friedrich is still working his way back to fitness, midfield maestro Diego is still maneuvering his way away from the club, and long-term injured midfielders Thomas Kahlenberg and Ja-Cheol Koo are still in fitness training.
Hannover 96 - FSV Mainz 05
Fresh off their historic aggregate win over Spanish team Sevilla to reach the Europa League group stage, Steve Cherundolo and Hannover will try to keep the momentum rolling when they host FSV Mainz 05 on Sunday.
The Reds are riding high at the moment, still holding onto an undefeated league record, however more impressively having reached the group stage of the Europa League at the expense of two-time champions Sevilla FC.
If there was any question as to whether their success last season was a lucky fluke or the start of longer trend, they are beginning to provide answers pointing towards the latter one piece at a time.
They can make a further statement on Sunday when last season's fifth-place team Mainz pays them a visit, in a game which is a preview of late-October's much-anticipated German Cup clash.
Mainz looked headed to a third straight win last weekend when they took an early two-goal lead over Schalke, bringing back memories of their record-setting start to last season.
They ended up losing thanks to a four-goal second half by Schalke, and Sunday will be perhaps the perfect chance for redemption against one of the league's most impressive.
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.
Mainz are missing midfielder Florian Heller to a thigh problem and striker Adam Szalai as he works back from knee surgery.
TSG 1899 Hoffenheim - Werder Bremen
Having just received his first-ever call-up to the US National Team, Hoffenheim winger Fabian Johnson will be primed to continue his smoking hot start to the season when Hoffenheim host the mighty Werder Bremen.
Johnson turned in a plausible man-of-the-match performance in the Hoffe's 2-0 win at Augsburg last weekend, assisting on the first goal while drawing the penalty which led to the second as the team notched up their second win of the young season.
They are in the gaggle of teams on six points and just behind leaders Hannover and Gladbach along with free-scoring Bremen, although after last weekend's thorough domination of Augsburg will feel as though they are ready to jump to the top of the heap.
The Green-Whites of Bremen have shown signs of returning to their old character of beating their opponents on offensive might alone. They put in a five-goal performance in their 5-3 win over Freiburg last weekend, and will be eager to knock Hoffenheim's defense down a notch.
Johnson, who learned Thursday evening, that he was invited to participate in the upcoming friendlies for the USA against Costa Rica and Belgium, will almost certainly be lining up on the right side of Hoffenheim's attack, and partner with Chinedu Obasi, Ryan Babel and Roberto Firmino to give the Werder back line fits.
Hoffenheim have a number of players absent from the roster; defender Josip Simunic has a pulled muscle, the midfield trio of Gylfi Thor Sigurdsson, Boris Vukcevic and Tobias Weis are sidelined with respective knee, calf and meniscus problems, striker Vedad Ibisevic has a pulled muscle and is also expected to leave the club soon on a transfer, and finally Knowledge Musona has a muscular problem.
For Bremen, defenders Naldo, Sebastian Boenisch and Mikael Silvestre along with midfielder Tim Borowski are all still regaining their fitness after extended injuries.
FC Ingolstadt 04 - Hansa Rostock
Ingolstadt is in desperate need of not only ideas but a win, and will hope that they can come out ahead when the host similarly-winless Hansa Rostock on Friday evening.
The Schanzer have yet to register their first win of the 2011-12 season, with two draws and three losses putting them second from bottom of the standings.
They were thoroughly beaten by northern neighbors Fürth last weekend by a three-goal margin, and as things stand are tied for the division's worst defense while also scoring the second-fewest number of goals in the 2. Bundesliga themselves.
Rostock have also been entirely unspectacular since rejoining the division after last seasons promotion from the 3. Liga; four draws and one loss in their first five games has put them two clear of the relegation zone, however this can't be expected to last, and failure to come back from their trip south without three points will inch them closer to the cellar.
For Ingolstadt, midfielders Leonhard Haas and Malte Metzelder are out with respective calf and ankle problems, while Rostock are without defender Pavel Kostal and striker Marek Mintal, the former with a foot injury and the latter with an adductor pull.
Eintracht Frankfurt - SC Paderborn 07
Matt Taylor will likely be used as a second-half substitute for SC Paderborn 07 on Sunday when they pay a tough visit to undefeated Eintracht Frankfurt.
Ricardo Clark was moved off Frankfurt's bench for last weekend's game, but will hope to be selected by head coach Armin Veh to suit up on Sunday.
Paderborn finally broke free of their growing two-game losing streak last week, surging past league newcomers Dynamo Dresden to pull back into the upper half of the standings.
Their task will be a considerably tougher one against one of the division favorites, as Frankfurt have yet to lose on the season through five games, although they have been more vulnerable at home where they have drawn twice in two tries.
Neither Clark nor Taylor played for their respective teams last week, and while a similar fate can be expected for Clark, Taylor will likely be used as a second-half substitute on Sunday.
Frankfurt are fairly free of injuries, as their only absence is defender Georgios Tzavellas, who is still regaining his fitness from an earlier injury and has yet to make his first appearance of the season.
For Paderborn, defenders Sören Gonther and Florian Mohr continue to be absent with thigh and meniscus injuries.
Kickers Offenbach - SV Babelsberg 03
Amaechi Igwe will be taking up his usual post on the left side of Babelsberg's defense on Saturday when they pay a visit to Kickers Offenbach in 3. Liga action.
Babelsberg has not registered a win since the second game of the season, and a run of three draws and one loss in the time since has put them just in the bottom half of the division standings.
They will be in for a potentially tough evening on Saturday against an Offenbach team that has won their last two games after a slow start, and has current momentum well on their side.
Babelsberg will be without midfielder Christian Groß and forward Nicolas Hebisch for the long haul as both have suffered severe knee injuries.
Kickers are missing midfielder Nicolas Feldhahn as he recovers from a knee injury, Daniel Gunkel who is out with a back problem, and forward Thomas Rathgeber who is in rehab for a knee injury.
Alfredo Morales should be on Hertha's bench on Friday evening when they try for their first win of the season at home against visiting Stuttgart.
David Yelldell will be on Leverkusen's bench on Saturday when the team hosts local rivals and reigning champions Borussia Dortmund.
Jermaine Jones will hope to be on Schalke's bench on Sunday when they welcome surprise first-place team Borussia Mönchengladbach.
Luis Robles will be on the Karlsruhe bench as backup keeper on Saturday when the team welcomes FSV Frankfurt.
Bobby Wood is still awaiting his first appearance of the season, which he hopes will come on Sunday when the team hosts FC Union Berlin.
Preston Zimmerman will hope to work his way onto the field for Darmstadt for the second straight game when the team visits Rot-Weiß Erfurt on Saturday.