PREVIEW: WEEKEND GERMAN ACTION
Michael Bradley and Steven Cherundolo will have stiff competition this weekend as Borussia Mönchengladbach head to Schalke 04 and Hannover 96 travel to Bayern Munich.
Schalke 04 – Borussia Mönchengladbach
After a stellar performance last weekend against Eintracht Frankfurt, Michael Bradley and Borussia Mönchengladbach will try and put a dent in Schalke 04's title hopes when the two teams meet up on Saturday.
Borussia Mönchengladbach doesn't have to worry about relegation anymore – which is probably a good thing when you look at the team's remaining schedule. The Foals will face the top three teams in the Bundesliga in its last four games and while it's definitely not the easiest ways to end a season, it will give them the opportunity to see how far they need to progress to be successful.
Schalke, on the other hand, is coming off a weekend it would rather forget. As it turns out, the team from soccer guru Felix Magath had the chance to go level with leader Bayern Munich on points, but got blown out of the water by relegation-bound Hannover. The team will have to get three points against Gladbach if they want to stay in the hunt.
Michael Frontzeck will nearly have a complete squad to choose from, the only absence being Canadian forward Rob Friend.
Schalke is still without American midfielder Jermaine Jones, who has yet to return to training following his broken leg last year. The team will also be without midfielder Vasilios Pliatsikas who is still recovering from a knee injury and Levan Kenia who is working his way back from injury.
Bayern Munich – Hannover 96
A morale-boosting win against second-place Schalke has given Steve Cherundolo and Hannover 96 a bit of added confidence – and they will need that and more when they head to Bayern Munich on Saturday.
The last week has mirrored Hannover 96's up and down season. After winning against league giants Schalke 04 on Saturday, and moving out of the automatic relegation zone, the team's bad luck struck again. Both midfielder and playmaker Elson and forward Arouna Kone were ruled out of the season's remaining games. This, just a week after the duo had made their triumphant returns from injury.
With a squad that has been stripped down to the bare minimum due to the number of injuries, the road ahead and the battle to stay in Germany's first league will be difficult to say the least.
Bayern Munich on the other hand seems to have other things to worry about than the minnows from the bottom of the standings. A Cinderella win against Manchester United has set them up for their first appearance in the Champions League quarterfinals in nearly a decade. They are two points ahead of Schalke 04 in the Bundesliga standings. They are in the German Cup final scheduled for May. And, there is speculation and daily press coverage about where Frank Ribery will or will not be playing next season.
In addition to Elson and Kone, Hannover will be without midfielder Jacek Krzynowek and all-rounder Constant Djakpa who are both sidelined with knee injuries. Leon Andreasen is out with a muscle tear, Jan Rosenthal is still recovering from a hip problem and Altin Lala and Mikael Forssel are still in rehab. Additionally, Sal Zizzo is still missing as he continues to recover from an ACL injury suffered during the fall.
Bayern Munich trainer Louis van Gaal will have a full squad to choose from.
Ricardo Clark missed training a couple of days this week with slight injury but will most likely be on the bench when Frankfurt takes on Hertha BSC on Sunday. The American midfielder is still looking for his first Bundesliga minutes.
After playing with the U23 team for the last few weeks, Jared Jeffrey will be looking to make the bench for Mainz when the club travels to Hamburg on Saturday.
Defender Daniel Williams will be looking to get back into the mix for SC Freiburg when the team hosts Nuremburg on Saturday.
Goalkeeper David Yeldell is out for the season and will have to cheer from the sidelines when Koblenz hosts Karlsruhe on Friday.
Luis Robles will watch from the bench when Kaiserslautern travels to Bielefeld to take on Monday.
Matt Taylor will be looking to make the bench when Frankfurt travels to take on Hansa Rostock on Saturday.