PREVIEW: WEEKEND GERMAN ACTION
Jermaine Jones hopes to carry over his good play from the previous week, while Fabian Johnson, Danny Williams and Hoffenheim face high-flying Bayern Munich.
Werder Bremen - FC Augsburg
Michael Parkhurst should return to the starting lineup when the team travels to Bremen on Saturday.
Parkhurst missed last weekend's big relegation matchup between Augsburg and Hoffenheim due to an infection, but now he is healthy and ready to man the right back spot for his team despite winning 2-1.
One of the teams Augsburg is chasing to get out of the playoff spot is Bremen. The Werderaner hold a 10-point cushion over Augsburg, but three points for the guests in this match might take them precariously close to the relegation zone.
Augsburg will be without goalkeeper Alexander Manninger because of a thigh injury, as well as captain Paul Verhaegh with an ankle injury, Jan Moravek with muscle problems and Milan Petrzela with knee problems.
Wolfsburg will be without Sebastian Prödl because of a red card suspension and Niclas Füllkrug because of a knee operation.
VfL Wolfsburg - Schalke 04
Jermaine Jones looks to carry over his good play from the prior week for Schalke when the Royal Blues travel to Wolfsburg on Saturday.
The American midfielder recorded a goal and an assist in two matches - along with two yellow cards - as Schalke earned a 1-1 draw in the Champions League knockout stage and a 2-1 win over Düsseldorf in the Bundesliga. These matches have boosted the morale of the team, which had struggled since November as the Royal Blues went from a possible title contender to chasing a European spot.
After struggling for much of this season, Wolfsburg can take a sigh of relief that the team has a nine-point advantage over the playoff spot. The Wolves can't take it too easy, though, as Augsburg has charged out of the gate following the winter break.
The Royal Blues' laundry list of injuries continues to plague the team. Lars Unnerstall and Kyriakos Papadopoulos because of knee operations, Christian Fuchs because of back problems and Atsuto Uchida and Ibrahim Afellay because of thigh injuries are out.
Wolfsburg will be without Alexander Madlung, who must sit out two matches for a red card he received in the team's 1-1 tie against Mainz last weekend.
1899 Hoffenheim - Bayern Munich
Following a disappointing loss to Augsburg last weekend, Fabian Johnson, Danny Williams and Hoffenheim take on the last team they want to see: Bayern Munich.
Johnson will get the start at left back, while Williams might start in central midfield for Hoffenheim.
Much to the delight of most German soccer fans, Hoffenheim has played well below preseason expectations. The team finds itself in the direct relegation zone, two points behind Augsburg in the playoff spot for a chance to stay in the Bundesliga.
Hoffenheim's relegation fight doesn't get any easier with Bayern coming to town. The Bavarians are running away with the Bundesliga this year, holding a 17-point lead in the standings over Dortmund in second place, and the team has only allowed a league-low eight goals this season.
Hoffenheim's injury list continues to grow. The team will be without Sebastian Rudy, who is recovering from an ankle injury, Sejad Salihovic, who is recovering from a surgery on the meniscus in his right knee, and Andreas Beck and Eugen Polanski because of yellow card accumulation.
Bayern will be without Rafinha because of the flu.
Jahn Regensburg - SV Sandhausen
Andrew Wooten and Sandhausen need to stop a recent skid when they play Regensburg on Friday in 2. Bundesliga action.
Sandhausen has lost its last two matches, dropping the team into the direct relegation zone. Now three points back of Dresden in the playoff spot, Sandhausen wants to get a positive result this weekend, although the team hasn't recorded an away win this season.
That result might be possible against Regensburg. The only team below Sandhausen in the standings, Regensburg has recorded only one win in its last 10 matches and has the second-worst home record in the league.
Sandhausen will be without Simon Tüting because of a broken arm, while Regensburg will be without Jonatan Kotzke because of a cruciate ligament tear.
Preußen Münster - VfL Osnabrück
Matt Taylor and well-rested Münster have the opportunity to gain on 3.Liga leader Osnabrück on Saturday.
Due to unplayable field conditions, Münster's match last weekend was postponed, giving the team more time to recover. Because of the break, however, Münster fell out of the promotion spots in the standings and now is two points out of the playoff position.
Getting three points against Osnabrück will be a tough task. The team rides a three-match winning streak into the weekend and has lost only two in its last 10 matches.
Defender Martin Hudec is unavailable for Osnabrück because of mono, while Münster is not reporting any injuries.
SV Darmstadt 98 - Hallescher FC
Preston Zimmerman and Darmstadt look for crucial points against Halle on Sunday.
The Lilies managed to pull off a miracle last season by surviving in the 3. Liga, but with the team four points out of safety and having played a game more, they are running out of time to pull off another one.
For the second week in a row, Darmstadt's opponent is riding high. Halle has won three of its last four matches and is sitting pretty in 11th place going into Sunday's match.
Darmstadt will be without Benjamin Gorka and Uwe Hesse due to red card suspensions, while Halle will be without Patrick Mouaya because of a broken shin bone and Maik Wagefeld because of a muscle tear in the abductor region.
Steve Cherundolo continues to recover from arthroscopic knee surgery and will be unavailable for Hannover when the team travels to Dortmund on Saturday.
Tim Chandler must sit out Nuremberg's home match against Freiburg on Saturday because of yellow card accumulation.
Alfredo Morales will likely make the bench for Hertha Berlin against Dresden on Saturday.
Bobby Wood should be a bench option for coach Alexander Schmidt in 1860 Munich's match against Ingolstadt on Sunday.
Joe Gyau should make St. Pauli's bench when the team travels to Aalen on Sunday.
Jerome Kiesewetter could be available for Stuttgart II on Saturday as he returns from U-20 World Cup qualifying.
Royal-Dominique Fennell's Stuttgarter Kickers are not playing this weekend because of snow and unplayable field conditions.