PREVIEW: WEEKEND GERMAN ACTION
Tim Chandler and Nuremberg's hot start to the Rückrunde faces a stern test against Bayern Munich, and the 2.Bundesliga returns from its winter break, with Andrew Wooten getting his first start for FSV.
1. FC Nuremberg - Bayern Munich
Tim Chandler and Nuremberg put their two-match winning streak on the line when they host Bayern Munich on Saturday.
It took Nuremberg 18 matches before the team recorded its first win of the season, but Der Club managed to make it two in a row with a somewhat controversial win in Berlin. Chandler himself has been a role, making kicker's and the Bundesliga Fanatic's teams of the week two weeks ago and being an honorable mention for the Fanatic's last week.
Chandler will have his hands full with the defending European champion. After winning the Treble last season, Bayern is on track to repeat the feat (at least in terms of the Bundesliga title), leading the lead by 13 points and accumulating a 42 goal differential.
Per Nilsson, Emanuel Pogatetz and Makoto Hasebe will miss for Nuremberg with knee injuries, while Hanno Balitsch and Niklas Stark are out because of a toe injury and an abductor injury. Bastian Schweinsteiger returned to Bayern's practice on Wednesday but probably won't dress on Saturday after dealing with patella tendon discomfort.
SC Freiburg - TSG 1899 Hoffenheim
Less than two weeks following surgery to repair a broken right hand, Fabian Johnson could return to Hoffenheim's starting lineup in Freiburg on Saturday.
Johnson dressed last weekend in Hoffenheim's win over floundering Hamburg, but he didn't come off the bench, as the team didn't need him. This might have foreshadowed the news that came out on Thursday, where Hoffenheim confirmed that Johnson will not re-sign with the team and will leave in the summer. Until that time, however, the team plans to use him as much as possible.
Last Hoffenheim's opponent last weekend, Freiburg has struggled this season. Playing in the Europa League group stage has taken a toll on the Breisgau Brazilians, who sit in the relegation-playoff spot. Freiburg has lost six of its last eight matches across all competitions.
Stefan Thesker will miss the match for Hoffenheim with an ankle injury, while Freiburg's Sebastian Freis is out with an Achilles' tendon injury.
VfL Bochum - FSV Frankfurt
Andrew Wooten will look to help FSV Frankfurt put some distance between themselves and the relegation zone at Bochum on Friday in 2.Bundesliga action.
Wooten spent much of the winter break trying to find a new team, as he started just one match and hadn't played for more than three months at Kaiserslautern. He found at new home in the Frankfurt's Bornheimer district, and he's already flourished, finding the back of the net six times in five friendlies over the winter break.
The winter break couldn't have come a better time for Bochum, which was in a bit of a free fall. The Bochumer went winless in their last four matches, where the team recorded just one goal, and they dropped them from seventh to 11th place in the 2.Bundesliga action.
Frankfurt will be without Nestor Herve Djengoue because of an infection, Marcel Kandziora because of a hip injury, Manuel Konrad because of a red-card suspension, Zafer Yelen because of a torn meniscus and Chhunly Pagenburg because of back problems. Meanwhile, Paul Freier is out for Bochum with a knee contusion.
Holstein Kiel - Preußen Münster
Matt Taylor and Münster will try to end a goal drought against Kiel on Saturday in 3.Liga action.
Since returning from the winter break, Münster hasn't scored a single goal despite controlling long stretches of both matches. The Eagles managed to pick up a point in the first match but gave up a late goal last week in loss to Wiesbaden. Luckily for them, the Eagles haven't dropped into the relegation zone.
Saturday's match could be a low-scoring one, as Kiel has struggled all season to find the back of the net. The team is tied for the second-lowest goal total in the German third division and hasn't scored a goal in 2014.
Münster will not have Clement Halet, Patrick Kirsch and Simon Scherder available with ankle problems, thigh problems and a stomach infection, respectively. Kiel will be without Mika Ääritalo, Casper Johansen and Marlon Krause because of a red-card suspension, a groin injury and a torn cruciate ligament.
VfB Stuttgart II - Stuttgarter Kickers
Royal-Dominique Fennell and the Kickers renew the Stadtderby rivalry when they face Stuttgart II on Sunday.
Both teams come into the match on highs. The Kickers are riding a four-match unbeaten streak, which includes three wins over Erfurt and Wiesbaden, which currently sit in fifth and sixth place in the 3.Liga standings. Meanwhile, Stuttgart II is on a two-match winning streak.
The Kickers will be without Marc Stein because of a knee injury, Fabio Leutenecker because of yellow-card accumulation, Marcos Alvarez because of damaged cartilage and Daniel Engelbrecht because of a heart condition. Sinan Gümüs will miss for Stuttgart II with a hernia.
John Anthony Brooks could dress for Hertha Berlin when the Old Lady travels to Hamburg on Saturday.
Steve Cherundolo looks to miss another match for Hannover on Sunday at Schalke with knee problems.
Bobby Wood will likely match the bench for 1860 Munich in Monday's 2.Bundesliga match against Düsseldorf.