PREVIEW: WEEKEND GERMAN ACTION
Daniel Williams, Fabian Johnson and Hoffenheim break in their fourth coach this season, while Steve Cherundolo could make his return for Hannover this weekend.
TSG 1899 Hoffenheim - Fortuna Düsseldorf
Daniel Williams, Fabian Johnson and Hoffenheim start the Markus Gisdol reign against Düsseldorf on Friday.
Williams and Johnson are expected to start at defensive midfielder and left back, respectively.
Hoffenheim fired Marco Kurz earlier this week and replaced him with Under-23 coach Markus Gisdol. This change marked the fourth coach for Williams, Johnson and Co. this season.
With the team's struggles this season, it's hardly surprising that Hoffenheim has switched coaches so often. Pegged as a possible European candidate in the preseason, Hoffenheim sits four points behind Augsburg in the relegation playoff position with seven matches to go.
Düsseldorf has managed to stay above the relegation zone for much of the season, but that could change down the stretch. The team only has a nine-point advantage over Hoffenheim and has picked up two points in its last five matches.
Düsseldorf will be without Adam Bodzek with a thigh injury, while Robbie Kruse is questionable due to patella tendon issues. Hoffenheim isn't reporting any significant injuries.
1. FC Nuremberg - 1. FSV Mainz 05
Tim Chandler and Nuremberg continue their push toward Europe when they host fellow European contender Mainz on Sunday.
Under coach Michael Wiesinger, who took over at Nuremberg in the winter break, Der Club has lost just one match. Over that span, Nuremberg went from a relegation candidate to just four points behind its opponent for the last Europa League spot.
More importantly for U.S. fans, Chandler should get his fourth straight start on the right wing for Der Club.
In the last 10 matches, Mainz has had a similar run, losing one match, but with most of those results coming from draws, the team hasn't taken control of the race for Europe.
Timo Gebhart will miss for Nuremberg because of a groin problem, while Marco Caligiuri is out for Mainz with an undisclosed injury.
Hannover 96 - VfB Stuttgart
After making Hannover's bench last week for the first time since late December last week, Steve Cherundolo might return to the starting lineup against Stuttgart on Sunday.
With the Reds already out of the Europa League, they can concentrate on qualifying for the competition for another season. Hannover is only two points back of Mainz in the final Europa League spot, meaning the return of its captain in Cherundolo will be a huge boost coming down the stretch.
Like Hannover, Stuttgart played in the Europa League this season, but unlike its opponent on Sunday, Stuttgart's chances of returning to the competition are slim. The team is seven points out has won only one of its last five matches in all competitions.
Hannover will be without Mario Eggimann as he continues to recover from a broken ankle, Szabolcs Huszti with a thigh injury and Lars Stindl with a syndesmosis tear. Stuttgart will be without Georg Niedermeier because of a red card suspension and Martin Harnik because of yellow card accumulation.
Hertha Berlin - Eintracht Braunschweig
John Anthony Brooks, Alfredo Morales and Berlin host Braunschweig on Monday in a matchup of the top two teams in the 2.Bundesliga.
Brooks should start at center back for Hertha, while Morales should make the team's bench.
Hertha Berlin's magic number hit single-digits following last week's win. The Old Lady now needs nine points in the last seven matches to clinch automatic promotion.
That being said, this match will be all about supremacy in the German second division, as Braunschweig is in a similar situation as Berlin. The surprise team in the 2.Bundesliga sits one point back from Hertha going into the match, and automatic promotion looks to be in the cards.
Neither team is reporting any injuries at time of publication.
SV Darmstadt - Alemannia Aachen
Preston Zimmerman and Darmstadt hope to put some more distance from the relegation zone against Aachen on Friday.
The Lilies have put together a four-match unbeaten streak to pull themselves out of the relegation zone and keep survival a possibility, but they only have a two-point cushion over Babelsberg having played two more matches.
Getting three points might be easy for the Lilies considering their opponent, Aachen. Going through serious financial difficulties, Aachen sits in last place in the 3.Liga and will be relegated at the end of the season no matter what.
Aachen will be without Florian Müller because of damaged cartilage, while Darmstadt is not reporting any injuries.
Preußen Münster - 1. FC Saarbrücken
As the race for promotion tightens up down the stretch, Matt Taylor and Münster need three points against Saarbrücken on Saturday.
The Eagles missed a great opportunity last week to hold onto third place and the promotion playoff position by tying Dortmund II 0-0. Still, with a match in hand, Münster sits just two points back of Osnabrück in third place and three points back of Bielefeld in fourth place. Good news for Münster: The Eagles have the best home record in the league, collecting 35 points and amassing a goal differential of 22.
Saarbrücken is hot of late, going on a five-match unbeaten streak. Three of those matches ended in wins, cementing the team's place in the middle of the standings.
Saarbrücken will be without Tim Kruse with a groin injury, Kevin Maek and Sven Sökler because of yellow card accumulation, Ufuk Özbek with a capsule tear and Markus Hayer with a torn cruciate ligament.
Michael Parkhurst looks to be unavailable for Augsburg against Dortmund on Saturday due to an undisclosed muscle problem.
Jermaine Jones will miss Schalke's match against Werder Bremen on Sautrday, as he continues to recover from the wound on his ankle he suffered while on international duty.
Joe Gyau should make St. Pauli's bench against Dynamo Dresden on Saturday.
Bobby Wood should be an option off the bench for 1860 Munich coach Alexander Schmidt when the Lions host Cottbus on Sunday.
Jerome Kiesewetter hopes to make Stuttgart II's bench against Heidenheim on Saturday.