PREVIEW: WEEKEND GERMAN ACTION
In the last round of matches before the winter break, Timothy Chandler and Nuremberg square off with Jermaine Jones and Schalke, while Matt Taylor and Münster look to end 2013 on a high note.
1. FC Nuremberg - FC Schalke 04
In an American affair right before Christmas, Tim Chandler and Nuremberg play host to Jermaine Jones and Schalke on Saturday.
Nuremberg is still winless to start the 2013-2014 season, and while Der Club has already broken the record for longest winless streak to start the season, it could going into the new year without a win under its belt. The Francoians have come close on many occasions but cannot seem to get off the schneid, as they have recorded 10 ties through 14 matches.
Schalke, meanwhile, has had an inconsistent start the season, yet the Royal blues still find themselves in contention for European competition, sitting in sixth place in the Bundesliga. Jones has fluttered back and forth between the starting lineup and the bench, but because of Schalke's long injury list, he will probably start on Saturday.
Timo Gebhart and Emanuel Pogatetz are out for Nuremberg, as Gebhart continues to recover from groin surgery and Pogatetz is suspended for yellow-card accumulation. The Royal Blues will be without Dennis Aogo, Klaas Jan Huntelaar and Marco Höger because of knee injuries and Julian Draxler and Benedikt Höwedes because of thigh injuries.
FC Ingolstadt 04 - 1. FC Kaiserslautern
Alfredo Morales and Ingolstadt look to get a positive result at home versus Kaiserslautern in order to keep themselves out of the relegation zone during the break.
Ingolstadt spent much of the early season in the relegation one, struggling to put together any good run of results before replacing manager Marco Kurz with Ralph Hasenhüttl in early October. Now, die Schanzer sit in 14th place and one point above the relegation zone thanks to a string of six positive results in their last seven matches.
Trying to beat Kaiserslautern will prove to tough, as die Rote Teufel are considered one of the promotion favorites and have spent most of the season at the top of the 2.Bundesliga standings. Kaiserslautern, whose American forward Andrew Wooten probably won't dress, might be ripe for the picking, as the Rote Teufel have lost their last two matches.
Ingolstadt's Andreas Buchner is out following a knee operation, while Marvin Matip must sit because of a red-card suspension. Kaiserslautern will be without Florian Riedel, as he had shoulder surgery more than one week ago.
Wacker Burghausen - Preußen Münster
Matt Taylor and Münster hope to put 2013 behind them and enter the winter break on a high note against Burghausen on Saturday.
Münster had a rough second half to 2013, starting with missing out on promotion to the 2.Bundesliga by a mere point in May. Things got worse for the start of the new 3.Liga season, as the Eagles hovered around the relegation zone until recently, and they will look to put even more space between them and the bottom of the standings.
With a win, Münster could put Burghausen into a bad spot, as the team sits in last place and six points off safety going into this weekend's matches. Burghausen does have the confidence booster of a two-match unbeaten streak, which means the Eagles will not be able to walk over their opponents.
Münster will not have Patrick Kirsch and Gaetano Manno available because of thigh and groin problems, respectively, while Darlington Omodiagbe, Youssef Mokhtari and Olcay Turhan are out for Burghausen with a nose injury, a torn muscle in an undisclosed area and back surgery.
Rot-Weiß Erfurt - Stuttgarter Kickers
Royal-Dominique Fennell seems likely to hold onto a spot in the starting lineup for the Stuttgarter Kickers when they got to Erfurt on Saturday.
Fennell has experienced a tumultuous 2013, starting with groin surgery early in the year that kept him for the better part of half the year. Then, to start the 2013-2014 season, he hasn't seen too much of the field, but Fennell has managed to force his way back into a starting role, playing well in last week's 2-0 win over Wiesbaden, giving him an encore this weekend.
If Fennell manages to put in a similar performance against Erfurt, it should go a long way toward cementing his spot in the starting 11. Erfurt is pushing for promotion, sitting two points off the promotion playoff spot.
Marcos Alvarez and Daniel Engelbrecht are out for the Kickers with cartilage problems and a heart condition. Erfurt is without Jens Möckel, Luka Marino Odak, Kevin Möhwald, Marius Strangl and Simon Brandstetter because of a broken skin, thigh injury, abductor injuries and groin surgery.
Michael Parkhurst will likely not make the 18 for Augsburg on Friday against Eintracht Frankfurt.
John Anthony Brooks came down with the flu during the midweek and is questionable for Hertha Berlin against Dortmund on Saturday.
Hannover's Steve Cherundolo will hope to feature for the first time this season when the Reds travel to Freiburg on Saturday.
Fabian Johnson will hope to retake his spot in Hoffenheim's starting lineup at Braunschweig on Saturday.
Bobby Wood should be a bench option for coach Friedhelm Funkle when 1860 Munich takes on FSV Frankfurt on