PREVIEW: WEEKEND GERMAN ACTION
Bobby Wood's comeback with 1860 Munich continues, while Jermaine Jones and Schalke hope to turn around a recent slump against Mönchengladbach.
FC Schalke 04 - Borussia Mönchengladbach
Jermaine Jones and the Royal Blues look to end a small slump against Mönchengladbach on Saturday.
In the team's last five Bundesliga matches, Schalke has dropped 11 points, leaving the team 13 points behind leader Bayern. Before the slump, Schalke looked to be serious title contender, sitting only four points behind the Bavarians, but now, the team needs a win to put itself firmly into Champions League contention.
The Royals Blues can take heart in their dominance over their opponent, Mönchengladbach. Schalke hasn't lost a in the last 16 home matches against the away team.
Schalke will be without Marco Höger because of a syndesmosis injury, while defender Kyriakos Papadopoulos is questionable due to a knee injury. Mönchengladbach will be without Filip Daems and Luuk de Jong because of an abdominal injury and a knee injury, respectively.
Bayer Leverkusen - 1. FC Nuremberg
Many familiar faces wearing different jerseys will face off when Tim Chandler and Nuremberg travel to Leverkusen on Saturday.
Leverkusen's projected lineup is littered with ex-Nuremberg players, including center back Philipp Wollscheid, midfielders Jens Hegeler and Stefan Reinartz and forward Stefan Kießling. For Wollscheid and Hegeler, this will be the first time their will play their old team.
Nuremberg also has an ex-Leverkusen player. Defensive midfielder Hanno Balitsch played for one-season-and-a-half before moving to Der Club in January, where he has been a regular fixture in the starting lineup.
Midfielder Markus Feulner must sit out yet again for Nuremberg due to his red card suspension, while Leverkusen will be without Lars Bender and Michal Kadlec due to knee injuries.
1. FSV Mainz 05 - Hannover 96
Based on this season's trends, it will be either a win or a loss for Steve Cherundolo and Hannover, as the team travels to Mainz on Saturday.
Hannover is the only team in the Bundesliga to not record a tie on the road, going 2-4. That record is matched only by Mainz, who is one of three Bundesliga teams to not record a tie at its home stadium. Mainz has a 4-2 record at home.
This matchup has implications for the race for a European spot as well. Hannover and Mainz are tied on points and goal differential, but Hannover holds sixth place and the final European place thanks to a higher goal-scoring tally.
Forward Mohammed Abdellauoe is out for Hannover because of back problems. Mainz's starting left midfield duo of Andreas Ivanschitz and Elkin Soto are questionable due to a knee injury and back problems, while Niko Bungert, Jan Kirchhoff and Julian Baumgartlinger are out due to a knee injury, torn muscle fiber and a red card suspension.
TSG 1899 Hoffenheim - Werder Bremen
With the team struggling, Fabian Johnson, Daniel Williams and Hoffenheim look to turn it around against Bremen on Sunday.
All preseason expectations of possible European qualification have long been forgotten for Hoffenheim, as the team finds itself in the middle of the relegation battle 14 matches into the season. Coach Markus Babbel is in a need of a positive result in order to keep his job.
Bremen, meanwhile, lost its longtime coach earlier this month. The team has struggled this season, starting with a DFB Pokal loss to third-tier team Münster, and Bremen sits in 12th place going into this weekend.
Hoffenheim will be without goalkeeper Tim Wiese and midfielder Sebastian Rudy due to a knee injury and yellow card accumulation, respectively. Bremen will be without Philipp Bargfrede and Zlatko Junuzovic because of an Achilles injury and yellow card accumulation.
VfR Aalen - TSV 1860 Munich
Californian Bobby Wood's dream comeback continues, as he is set to start yet again for 1860 Munich against Aalen on Friday.
After not seeing first team action for about one year due to knee injuries, Wood returned to the bench for the Lions last Saturday and made his first professional start Tuesday in a 1-0 win over Paderborn. The American played 90 minutes and had a few goal-scoring opportunities in the win.
Wood's insertion in the lineup comes with the Lions making a coaching change. Coach Reiner Maurer is gone, and the board replaced him with second team coach Alexander Schmidt on an interim basis. Schmidt has given a few of his players a chance with the big boys, Wood included.
This match means a lot for the potential promotion candidates, with both teams tied on points, goal differential and goals scored. Sitting in fifth and sixth place and eight points behind third place Kaiserslautern, a loss would hurt either team's chances to climb back into the race.
Munich will be without defender Necat Aygün and midfielder Maximilian Nico due to a thigh injury and torn muscle fiber, while Aalen is not reporting any injuries at this time.
Erzgebirge Aue - SV Sandhausen
Building off a two-goal performance, Andrew Wooten will look to help Sandhausen climb out of the relegation zone with a win over Aue on Saturday.
The American forward has yo-yoed in and out of the starting lineup for Sandhausen, playing both right midfielder and forward for his team, but his two goals in the winning effort on Wednesday will give him another start in his natural position.
Before a midweek win over Ingolstadt, Aue had struggled, going winless in four consecutive matches. The team sits in 13th place and only three points ahead of Sandhausen in the promotion playoff spot between Germany's second and third tiers.
Ole Kittner and Simon Tütting are out for Sandhausen because of a knee injury and a broken arm. Goalkeeper Martin Männel, defender Thomas Paulus and forwards Ronny König and Halil Savran are out for Aue because of a pelvic bone contusion, a calf injury, torn muscle fiber and a left ankle injury, respectively.
SpVgg Unterhaching - SV Darmstadt 98
Preston Zimmerman and Darmstadt will look to turn things around and save their season, starting in Unterhaching on Friday.
The Lilies have recorded only three positive results in their last nine matches, which has seen the team fall into last place in the 3.Bundesliga. Darmstadt's offense has failed them so far, averaging less than one goal per match through 19 matches.
Scoring is not a problem for the Lilies' opponent, Unterhaching. The home team leads the 3.Bundesliga in scoring with 33 goals, including four goals in last weekend's win over Chemnitz.
Darmstadt will be without Benjamin Gorka due to a thigh injury, while Maximilian Drum is out for Unterhaching due to a red card suspension.
Defender Alfredo Morales shouldn't feature for Hertha Berlin against Cottbus on Monday.
American winger Joe Gyau will look to feature for St. Pauli against Kaiserslautern on Saturday.
Against Burghausen this Saturday, Preußen Münster's Matt Taylor starts his three-match suspension for the red card he received in last weekend's 1-0 loss against Babelsberg.
Royal-Dominique Fennell will not dress for the Stuttgarter Kickers on Saturday against Rostock, as a groin injury will see him out until 2013.
Forward Jerome Kiesewetter will hope to feature for Stuttgart II against Saarbrücken on Saturday.