DAVID SMITH - Friday, November 4, 2011
Timothy Chandler and Nürnberg are in desperate need of a win against bottom team Freiburg while Edson Buddle and Ingolstadt will try to pull out of the bottom three when they visit Karlsruhe.
FC Nürnberg - SC Freiburg
Timothy Chandler will be in the Nürnberg starting lineup on Saturday when they try to take all the points at home against last-place Freiburg.
Nürnberg are still feeling the pain of last weekend's 4-0 embarrassment at the hands of Bavarian rival FC Bayern, and Saturday's game against the poorest team in the Bundesliga couldn't have come at a better time.
A horrendous defense which is allowing 2.5 goals per game has been the Achilles heel for Freiburg, as they have already lost a league's-worst seven times, as compared to only two wins and a single draw.
They are in the midst of a three-game losing streak, although to their credit they have stayed in games, with each being just a single-goal defeat.
Nürnberg have also had their troubles of late, with last weekend's blowout at Bayern simply extending their winless run to six games.
They will be boosted by the return of Raphael Schäfer to goal, although his understudy Patrick Rakovsky is still several weeks away from fitness.
Otherwise, head coach Dieter Hecking has a nearly full squad to choose from, with long-term absence Per Nilsson still rehabbing after a summer injury.
For Freiburg, the only major absence is defender Mensur Mujdza, who is out for awhile with a broken foot.
TSG 1899 Hoffenheim - FC Kaiserslautern
Daniel Williams and Fabian Johnson could both be in the Hoffenheim starting lineup on Saturday when they host surging Kaiserslautern.
Both Williams and Johnson were confirmed as inclusions in Jürgen Klinsmann's latest US roster on Thursday night, and they will be eager to head into the international break with a win behind their backs.
They were easily defeated by a hot Schalke team last weekend, and will be facing a Kaiserslautern squad who is also on a roll, having gone undefeated over their last four across all competitions.
Hoffenheim have no key players out for the game, with defender Matthias Jaissle being the only absence as he is recovering from surgery on his Achilles tendon.
Kaiserslautern also have an injury- and suspension-free squad for the trip to Hoffenheim.
Hannover 96 - FC Schalke 04
Jermaine Jones will be in Schalke's starting lineup while Hannover captain Steve Cherundolo returns from suspension as these two teams meet in the AWD-Arena on Sunday.
Neither player took the field for their teams' respective Thursday-night Europa League games, with Cherundolo watching on from the bench as Hannover beat Copenhagen, while Jones was left entirely off the gameday roster for Schalke's scoreless draw at home against AEK Larnaca.
Schalke head into the game with momentum squarely on their side of the court, having won four straight and seven of eight in all competitions prior to Thursday's draw.
Hannover were perhaps suffering a slight hangover from their impressive win over Bayern two weeks ago, losing their next two in Bundesliga and DFB Pokal play before finally rebounding in Copenhagen.
A win would likely move Hannover back into the European spots, while second-place Schalke will need the three points if they hope to keep pace with Bayern, who enter the weekend with a four-point cushion atop the standings.
For Schalke, starting keeper Ralf Fährmann is out for the long-haul as he recovers from ACL surgery, putting either Lars Unnerstall or new signing Timo Hildebrand between the sticks. In addition, midfielder Peer Kluge will not be available after undergoing meniscus surgery.
The only critical absence for Hannover is midfielder Manuel Schmiedebach, who is out on yellow card suspension. Otherwise, only long-term absences Carlitos and Leon Andreasen are unavailable.
Karlsruher SC - FC Ingolstadt 04
Edson Buddle will have the opportunity to try to put one past his countryman Luis Robles on Friday when Ingolstadt visit Karlsruher SC in a crucial relegation six-pointer.
By far the worst two defensive teams in the 2. Bundesliga, both Ingolstadt and Karlsruhe are looking set for a long battle to avoid the drop, with each occupying a place in the bottom three.
Ingolstadt are in slightly better shape, although by the narrowest of margins, ahead of Karlsruhe by way of total goals scored to occupy the 16th-place relegation playoff spot.
Both are stuck in long winless streaks, although perhaps Ingolstadt have more sign for hope having hung on for a point against promotion favorites Eintracht Frankfurt last weekend, whereas KSC were blown away by a 5-1 score on their trip to Dynamo Dresden.
Normally playing second fiddle to starting keeper Dirk Orlishausen, Robles has been thrust into the limelight due to a shoulder injury suffered by his teammate. Additionally, Karlsruhe are missing midfielder Steffen Haas to yellow card suspension.
Ingolstadt see the return of central midfielder Marino Biliskov from a several week layoff, but are still without long-term absentees Kristoffer Andersen and Leonhard Haas as both work their way back to fitness. Most crucially, team captain and attacking talisman Stefan Leitl will be out on yellow card accumulation.
After receiving his first US senior team call-up, Alfredo Morales will likely be included on Hertha's bench on Saturday when they host Borussia Mönchengladbach.
After making a rare start in last weekend's win over Aue, Matt Taylor will hope to continue seeing playing time for Paderborn as they visit Energie Cottbus on Sunday.
Bobby Wood could continue to see substitute minutes for 1860 Munich when they host VfL Bochum on Saturday.
Eintracht Frankfurt forgotten man Ricardo Clark will likely not suit up for his team on Monday when they visit Erzgebirge Aue.
Preston Zimmerman will hope to receive substitute minutes for Darmstadt in their Friday-evening home game against Carl Zeiss Jena.
Babelsberg defender Amaechi Igwe will be a bench option for his team on Saturday afternoon when they visit VfR Aalen.