PREVIEW: WEEKEND GERMAN ACTION
Jermaine Jones and Schalke will try to put a stop to hated rivals Dortmund's tear through the league while Edson Buddle and Ingolstadt will look to break their long losing streak in Cottbus.
Borussia Dortmund - FC Schalke 04
Jermaine Jones will hold down the fort in Schalke's central midfield on Saturday when they visit Dortmund in the latest edition of the Revierderby.
The two teams come into the game at the top of their game in Bundesliga play, with Dortmund not having tasted defeat in more than two months and Schalke having a current seven-game unbeaten streak across all competitions.
While Dortmund did suffer a slight setback in midweek Champions League action in their 2-1 loss at Arsenal's Emirates Stadium, they nevertheless setting themselves up for a run at a second straight Bundesliga title, most notably having defeated FC Bayern in Munich last weekend.
Schalke will have the advantage of a more rested squad, and will also be riding the momentum of their 4-0 destruction of FC Nürnberg one week before.
Dortmund have just a pair of injuries, with defender Neven Subotic still out with a broken bone in his face, and midfielder Sven Bender with a fractured jaw.
The Königsblauen have more series injury concerns. Keeper Ralf Fährmann remains sidelined as he recovers from a torn ACL, defender Benedikt Höwedes is also recovering from a knee injury, midfielder Peer Kluge is working his way back from surgery on his meniscus, and Jefferson Farfan is out with a MCL injury.
FC Nürnberg - FC Kaiserslautern
Timothy Chandler and Nürnberg will be hopeful of pulling free from the drop zone when they host Kaiserslautern on Saturday afternoon.
Last weekend's 4-0 loss to Schalke dropped Nürnberg into the bottom three of the Bundesliga standings, and with a winless run in league play stretching for more than two months, the team has a tough road ahead.
They are perhaps catching 'Lautern at the perfect time, as the Red Devils have had an increasingly poor run in recent weeks, culminating in last weekend's 2-0 loss at home to Leverkusen.
A win would pull Nürnberg temporarily to safety, and give them some hope of entering the long winter break with some breathing room.
For Nürnberg, defender Javier Pinola is out with a leg injury, midfielder Markus Mendler with a thigh problem, and forward Albert Bunjaku is working his way back to fitness from a calf injury.
Kaiserslautern are missing only defender Florian Dick to yellow card accumulation.
TSG 1899 Hoffenheim - SC Freiburg
Fabian Johnson and Daniel Williams will both likely take the field for Hoffenheim on Saturday afternoon when they host SC Freiburg.
While still remaining directly in the middle of the standings, Hoffenheim are in the midst of a poor run of results which has seen them muster only a single win over their last seven outings.
Two losses and a draw over their last three games has brought them down into a pack of four teams hovering five or less points above the relegation zone, and a failure to earn a win against the second-worst team in the league could see them end the weekend as low as 12th.
They will enter the game without two of their most important defensive pieces, as left back Edson Braafheid will miss the game with a thigh problem, while right back Andreas Beck is suspended for yellow card accumulation.
This will force head coach Holger Stanislawski to make a number of shifts in the lineup, likely putting one or both of Williams and Johnson in the back line.
Freiburg are without injured defenders Oliver Barth and Mensur Mujdza, along with midfielder Janm Rosenthal who is sidelined with a pulled muscle.
Energie Cottbus - FC Ingolstadt 04
Edson Buddle should be in the Ingolstadt starting lineup on Sunday when they head east to Cottbus with the hopes of ending their growing losing streak.
Under new head coach Thomas Oral, Ingolstadt showed a marked improvement in their defensive performance, holding last week's opponents 1860 Munich to a single goal.
Unfortunately for "die Schanzer", the attack failed to click, leaving them with a shut-out loss - their seventh straight game in league play without a win.
While Cottbus are coming off of a win over Bochum, they have also struggled over the last few months, with just two wins to their name since late-August.
They do have several injuries with which to contend as defender Markus Brzenska, midfielders Marco Kurth and Dennis Sørensen, along with forward Martin Fenin are all set to miss the game.
Ingolstadt are relatively healthy, as long-term absences Kristoffer Andersen and Leonhard Haas are the only players unavailable for selection.
SV Darmstadt 98 - Werder Bremen II
Preston Zimmerman will hope to be in the Darmstadt starting lineup on Sunday when the team hosts Werder Bremen II.
Zimmerman played the full second half for Darmstadt in their 1-1 draw at Babelsberg last weekend, and with two players forced to watch from the stands thanks to red card suspensions, he could be on the field from the get-go on Sunday.
While the season has been anything but easy so far, the Lilies should be confident of picking up the victory against Werder's U23 squad, who have been one of the worst teams in the 3. Liga this season.
They had shown some signs of improvement with just one loss between late-September and the recent international window, but reverted to their old ways last weekend, getting blown out at home by a 4-0 margin against visiting team VfR Aalen.
For Darmstadt, both defender Cem Islamoglu and midfielder Uwe Hesse are suspended due to red cards. Additionally, defender Christian Beisel and midfielder Matthias Heckenberger are out injured.
For Bremen, defender Clemens Schoppenhauer is out on yellow card accumulation, Sandro Stallbaum is recovering from a shoulder operation and midfielder Kevin Krisch is out for awhile with an ACL tear. Additionally, a number of usual starters including Aleksandar Stevanovic, Florian Trinks, Tom Trybull and Lennart Thy are working with the first team.
David Yelldell will watch from the Leverkusen bench as backup keeper while Alfredo Morales will hope to make the Hertha bench when the Werkself visit Berlin's Olympic Stadium on Saturday.
Steve Cherundolo will hope to be on the field for Hannover on Saturday when they welcome Hamburger SV.
Matt Taylor was in the Paderborn starting lineup, playing the first 65 minutes in their 2-2 draw at FSV Frankfurt.
Luis Robles manned the Karlsruhe nets in place of injured Dirk Orlishausen on Saturday afternoon in their 2-0 loss at home against Alemannia Aachen.
Bobby Wood is injured and did not suit up for 1860 in their 2-1 win at home over Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday. Ricardo Clark has not been selected for Frankfurt's bench in several months, and was not in uniform for the game.
Amaechi Igwe will hope to see substitute action for Babelsberg on Saturday when they visit Arminia Bielefeld.