PREVIEW: WEEKEND GERMAN ACTION
Timmy Chandler and Nuremberg have a tough matchup against Bayern Munich, while Danny Williams, Fabian Johnson and Hoffenheim look to spoil the debut of Wolfsburg's new coach.
1. FC Nuremberg - Bayern Munich
Timothy Chandler and the Nuremberg defense take on the difficult task of slowing down the high-flying Munich offense on Saturday.
Nuremberg comes into the match cold, having lost six of the team's last eight Bundesliga matches. The defense hasn't been much of the problem, still in the top half of the league in goals allowed (17), but the offense has been anemic, scoring a whopping nine goals through 11 matches.
Either the offense will need to wake up or the defense will need to play out of its mind if Nuremberg is to get any points from this match against Bayern. The Bavarians average just below three goals per match and have allowed only four goals in league play.
Midfielder Hanno Balitsch is out for Nuremberg because of yellow card accumulation, while Bayern will be without defender Jerome Boateng because of a muscle fiber tear. Munich's Luis Gustavo is also questionable because of muscle problems.
Hannover 96 - SC Freiburg
After getting get a short break during the international friendly date, Steve Cherundolo returns to his captain duties for Hannover, as the team plays a rare Saturday match against Freiburg.
Hannover rides a three-match winning streak across all competitions into Saturday's match. The team hopes to carry the momentum from last week's win against Stuttgart, in which the team scored four unanswered goals in the second half to come back from 2-0 down.
Normally a relegation candidate every year, Freiburg has gotten off to a quick start, sitting in 11th place in the Bundesliga. Freiburg has tied back-to-back matches, including a rather dull scoreless tie against Hamburg last week.
Hannover's Leon Andreasen continues to miss for Hannover, as he recovers from a cruciate ligament tear. He is joined on Hannover's injury list by Sergio da Silva Pinto, who has a thigh injury. Defender Matthias Ginter is out for Freiburg due to back problems.
Bayer Leverkusen - FC Schalke 04
Needing to keep pace with league-leader Bayern, Jermaine Jones and Schalke need to pick up some points at Leverkusen on Saturday.
Schalke sits in second place in the Bundesliga going into this weekend's matches, but being seven points behind Munich at the top of the standings, the Royal Blues need to take maximum points against Leverkusen in order to keep the pressure on the Bavarians.
Not that a win against Leverkusen will be an easy feat. Leverkusen is in fifth place, and before last week's 3-1 loss to Wolfsburg, the team went 12 matches unbeaten across all competitions.
Atsuto Uchida and Marco Höger are out for Schalke with muscle fiber tears, while Michal Kadlec and Karim Bellarabi are out for Leverkusen with an anterior cruciate ligament tear and pubic bone inflammation, respectively.
TSG 1899 Hoffenheim - VfL Wolfsburg
Danny Williams, Fabian Johnson and Hoffenheim look to spoil the debut of new Wolfsburg coach Klaus Allofs on Sunday.
Before making the switch to Wolfsburg on Wednesday, Allofs coached Werder Bremen for 13 years, winning the Bundesliga title in 2004 and two DFB Pokal titles in 2004 and 2009. During that time span, Wolfsburg went through eight coaches, and the organization is hoping that Allofs will bring some consistency to the 2009 Bundesliga champions.
Hoffenheim could care less who coaches its opponents - it needs the win as much as Wolfsburg. Both teams are right in the relegation mix, with Hoffenheim one point ahead of Wolfsburg in the playoff spot.
Hoffenheim will be without defenders Marvin Compper and Jannik Vestergaard due to a red card suspension and a torn ligament in his ankle, respectively. Wolfsburg is not reporting any injuries at this time.
Preußen Münster - SpVgg Unterhaching
Two of the 3.Bundesliga's most prolific offenses collide when Matt Taylor and Münster host Unterhaching on Saturday.
Münster tops the league with 31 goals through 17 matches, with Taylor scoring a league-leading 11 of those goals. Along with a strong defense (allowing only 14 goals), the Eagles currently sit in second place.
Like the Eagles, Unterhaching has used its offense to put itself in the promotion picture. In fourth place, Unterhaching has scored the second-most goals in the league (29). That being said, both Babelsberg and the Stuttgarter Kickers held Unterhaching scoreless in the past week.
Unterhaching's Maximilian Drum must sit out for Unterhaching, as he continues to serve his suspension for receiving a red card last Friday against Babelsberg. Münster is not reporting any injuries at this time.
SV Darmstadt 98 - Rot-Weiß Erfurt
In matchup of two relegation candidates, Preston Zimmerman and Darmstadt look to get out of the relegation zone against Erfurt on Sunday.
Darmstadt just can't seem to find the magic it had late last season that kept the team from relegation. In the past seven matches, the Lilies have only recorded four points, leaving them in 18th place.
Erfurt has fared better than Darmstadt in the past week, recording four points to move into a tie with Darmstadt and Dortmund II with 14 points each. Still, Erfurt struggles to keep opponents out of the back of the net, allowing a league-worst 33 goals.
Defender Marc Schnier is out for Darmstadt, as he continues to serve his suspension for a red card he received with the Lilies' Under-23 team. Tom Bertram, Marius Strangl, Tobias Ahrens and Aykut Öztürk are out for Erfurt because of knee irritation, thrombosis, an Achilles injury and a knee strain, respectively.
Andrew Wooten should be one of coach Gerd Dais' first options off the bench Sunday when Sandhausen takes on Bochum.
Winger Joe Gyau will hope to feature for St. Pauli on Monday night against Hertha Berlin. Defender Alfredo Morales shouldn't feature for Berlin.
Center back Royal-Dominique Fennell will miss Stuttgarter Kicker's clash against Chemnitz on Saturday with a groin injury.
Forward Jerome Kiesewetter will hope to see some action for Stuttgart II against Aachen on Saturday.