Leverkusen may need three points away to Hoffenheim if they are to remain in the title race. Meanwhile, Bayern host Frankfurt.Friday (all times local)
20:30 Mainz – Nuernberg
15:30 Bayern Munich – Eintracht Frankfurt
15:30 Hamburg – Stuttgart
15:30 Hannover – Freiburg
15:30 Kaiserslautern – Schalke
15:30 Hoffenheim – Bayer Leverkusen
18:30 Borussia Dortmund – Borussia Moenchengladbach
15:30 Werder Bremen – St Pauli
17:30 Koeln – Wolfsburg
Mainz – Nuernberg
Thanks to Sami Allagui’s late brace, Mainz snapped a three-game losing streak in Round 13. Though seven points behind Dortmund, the Oh Fives could still manage to enter the mid-season break in second place, which would be quite an achievement. To do so, a home victory over Nuernberg is a necessity. Thomas Tuchel will have a nearly full squad available, but Bo Svensson will miss out with a knee injury.
Nuernberg were blitzed by Kaiserslautern in their last match, a 3-1 home defeat. With 18 points already, the Bavarians still could finish the first half of the season in the top half of the table. Ahead of Friday’s showdown with Mainz, Dieter Hecking has ruled out Per Nilsson, Javier Pinola, Rubin Okotie and Albert Bunjaku.
Bayern Munich – Eintracht Frankfurt
Bayern blew a two-goal lead away to Roma in midweek, and slumped to a 3-2 loss. It was the third time this month that the Bavarians failed to close out what should have been a comfortable victory, and has increased the pressure on coach Louis van Gaal to earn a positive result this weekend. As they prepare to take on Frankfurt, Bayern will be without injured quartet Holger Badstuber, Ivica Olic, Miroslav Klose and Arjen Robben.
Frankfurt dropped points for the second consecutive week in last Saturday’s 4-0 collapse against Hoffenheim. The once high-flying Adler have slipped to seventh in the table, and now will look to close the first half of the campaign in a position that does justice to their impressive run in October. Michael Skibbe will have to make plans without the services of suspended duo Maik Franz and Giorgos Tzavellas, as well as injured contingent Chris, Sebastian Rode, Zlatan Bajramovic and Marcel Titsch-Rivero, so Ricardo Clark could be in line for some significant playing time.
Hamburg – Stuttgart
Hamburg suffered a second consecutive defeat last Saturday, a 3-2 result against Hannover. Armin Veh may have to shuffle his line-up and tactical approach ahead of this week’s match against Stuttgart. After scoring a brace against Hannover, wonder kid Heung-Min Son is sure to start, although there could be a number of squad replacements elsewhere. Veh will certainly be without Dennis Aogo, Dennis Diekmeier, Collin Benjamin, Joris Mathijsen, Miroslav Stepanek, Romeo Castelen, Eljero Elia, Marcell Jansen and Gojko Kacar, who are still unfit.
Stuttgart were unlucky to lose their most recent match against Koeln, but were forced to accept a bitter result. The Swabians slipped down into the relegation zone once more, and will now have to improve if they are to stand a chance of finishing the season in the top half of the table. Khaled Boulahrouz and Johan Audel will have to miss out on Saturday’s game due to injuries.
Hannover – Freiburg
After beating Hamburg in their most recent outing, Steve Cherundolo and Hannover have reaffirmed their quality and risen back into fourth place. Tipped to be candidates for relegation in August, die Roten could end the first half of the season with all but confirmation of a spot in the 2011-12 Bundesliga campaign. Suspended duo Karim Haggui and Sergio Pinto have been ruled out of Saturday’s action, and will join injured quartet Moritz Stoppelkamp, Mohamed Abdellaoue, Carlitos and Leon Andreasen in the stands.
Freiburg came within 15 minutes of earning a shock victory over Dortmund on Saturday, but were ultimately overcome in a 2-1 loss. The Breisgau remain surprisingly high in the table in sixth place, and could make a big leap forward with a victory over Hannover, who are one point ahead. Robin Dutt will have to do without injured trio Simon Pouplin, Pavel Krmas and Tommy Bechmann.
Kaiserslautern – Schalke
Kaiserslautern pulled away from the relegation zone with last week’s 3-1 win away to Nuernberg. With potentially dangerous sides such as Schalke and Stuttgart nipping at their heels, the Red Devils still have plenty to do in order to avoid the drop. They will be without injured trio Florian Dick, Rodnei and Jan Simunek, as well as suspended defender Thanos Petsos.
Schalke have been in resurgent form over the last week or so, earning successive 4-0 and 3-0 wins over Bremen and Lyon. Still just 15th in the Bundesliga table, die Knappen will hope to make a late surge in the standings. Despite their poor start, Felix Magath’s men could earn respectable 25 points total before the mid-season break. Ahead of Saturday’s match, the coach has ruled out Tim Hoogland, Christian Pander, Nicolas Plestan, Hans Sarpei, Levan Kenia and Christoph Moritz who are either ill or injured, but Jermaine Jones should be back in the lineup.
Hoffenheim – Bayer Leverkusen
Their 4-0 drubbing of Frankfurt in Round 13 was a clear signal that Hoffenheim’s youth-based system is working. Youngsters Peniel Mlapa and Boris Vukcevic were both on the score sheet, and Sebastian Rudy was man of the match. Saturday’s clash with Leverkusen will pit youth against experience in an intriguing match. Coach Ralf Rangnick has ruled out Tom Starke, Josip Simunic and Chinedu Obasi.
Leverkusen overcame an early deficit last week before earning a 1-1 draw with Bayern. The result left die Werkself nine points behind Dortmund, a gap that they will hope to reduce before the winter break. Three points against Hoffenheim are almost a necessity for Jupp Heynckes’ men, whose task will be made all the more difficult in the absence of Michael Ballack and Stefan Kiessling.
Borussia Dortmund – Borussia Moenchengladbach
Dortmund overcame an early deficit against Freiburg last week before earning a 2-1 comeback victory. BvB are well on pace now to end the season with more points than record holders Bayern, who earned 79 points in consecutive seasons between 1971 and 1973. Lucas Barrios and Lukasz Piszczek are rated as questionable, but Juergen Klopp has ruled out Mohamed Zidan, Patrick Owomoyela, Florian Kringe and Sebastian Kehl.
Despite a Marco Reus brace, Gladbach suffered a bitter 3-2 loss to Mainz in their most recent match. Die Fohlen are now dead last in the Bundesliga standings, with a league worst -13 goal difference. It will take a tremendous effort for Michael Frontzeck’s men to overcome the league leaders, but as the adage goes, fans attend matches because they don’t know the final result. Logan Bailly, Roel Brouwers, Dante, Jean-Sebastian Jaures and Tony Jantschke will have to miss out on the action due to injuries. Marcel Meeuwis will also miss the match due to illness.
Werder Bremen – St Pauli
Bremen’s downward spiral took a sharp turn for the worse over the last week. The Hanseaten lost 4-0 to Schalke before falling 3-0 to Tottenham in midweek. Bremen will have to fight tooth-and-nail for three points against a potentially tricky St Pauli side. Thomas Schaaf has ruled out Christian Vander, Sebastian Boenisch, Naldo, Tim Borwoski and Wesley.
St Pauli managed to earn a draw with Wolfsburg last week, and now sit 14th in the Bundesliga table with 14 points. The Hamburg side cannot be comfortable with their standing, and will have to be on the offensive as they take on a struggling Bremen side. Dennis Daube has been ruled out of Sunday’s action due to a foot injury, but otherwise, St Pauli will be at full strength.
Koeln – Wolfsburg
Koeln earned a rare win last weekend, a 1-0 result away to Stuttgart. It was a step in the right direction, but die Geissboecke were somewhat fortunate, and will have to do better to expect a positive result against Wolfsburg. Martin Lanig is suspended, and Adil Chihi and Manasseh Ishiaku will have to miss out on the action with injuries.
Wolfsburg were only able to squeeze out a 1-1 draw in their most recent clash against St Pauli. They face a struggling Koeln side in Round 14, but will have to be sharp in order to take three points on the road. Steve McClaren is under pressure now, and his job will be made all the more difficult in the absence of suspended pair Ashkan Dejagah and Diego, as well as injured duo Arne Friedrich and Fabian Johnson.
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