Schalke will hope to rebound from a big loss as they host Bayern, while Bremen hope to maintain their momentum in Wolfsburg.Friday (all times local)
20:30 - St Pauli - Kaiserslautern
15:30 - Borussia Moenchengladbach - Hannover
15:30 - Eintracht Frankfurt - Mainz
15:30 - Freiburg - Hamburg
15:30 - Stuttgart - Hoffenheim
15:30 - Wolfsburg - Werder Bremen
18:30 - Schalke - Bayern Munich
15:30 - Bayer Leverkusen - Koeln
17:30 - Nuernberg - Borussia Dortmund
St Pauli - Kaiserslautern
St Pauli suffered a defeat to forget about in their last match, a 3-0 loss in Bremen. The Hamburg-based club now square off against a notoriously dangerous Kaiserslautern side, but will at least take comfort in the fact that their home fans will be on hand to attend the match. Holger Stanislawski has ruled out Markus Thorandt (suspended), and Dennis Daube (injured).
Kaiserslautern have struggled for much of the season, but were a completely different side in last week’s 5-0 demolition of Schalke. As the first half of the season nears its end, the Red Devils will hope to maintain their form against fellow promoted side St Pauli. Marco Kurz will have to do without Thanos Petsos (suspended), as well as Rodnei and Jan Simunek (both injured).
Borussia Moenchengladbach - Hannover
Two of the USA's top players abroad will suare off when Borussia Moenchengladbach and Hannover meet in league play Saturday.
Gladbach got off to a surprise lead in their most recent match against Dortmund, but eventually suffered a 4-1 loss. Currently last in the Bundesliga table, die Fohlen are nowhere near achieving their potential, and will have to improve if they are to avoid the drop. As he makes preparations for Saturday’s match, Michael Frontzeck is planning to be without the services of injured sextet Logan Bailly, Marcel Meeuwis, Dante, Jean-Sebastian Jaures, Christian Dorda and Tony Jantschke, .
Hannover have thus far been the antithesis of Gladbach. Tipped as a side destined to struggle with relegation, die Roten are fourth in the table, despite struggling with a long list of injuries. On the heels of a 3-0 victory in their most recent match, Mirko Slomka’s men will hope to keep up their momentum heading into the winter break. Markus Miller, Mohammed Abdellaoue, Moritz Stoppelkamp, Leon Andreasen, and Carlitos have been ruled out of the match with injuries, and Karim Haggui will miss out due to suspension, leaving an opening for DaMarcus Beasley to add even more American flavor to the tie.
Eintracht Frankfurt - Mainz
Frankfurt did well to equalize with Bayern after falling behind early, but were ultimately outplayed en route to a 4-1 loss. Die Adler remain in their usual mid-table position nonetheless, and are always worth a good surprise. Against Mainz, Michael Skibbe’s side will be missing several players due to injuries, including Maik Franz, Chris, Marcel Titsch-Rivero, Zlatan Bajramovic, and Sebastian Rode.
After experiencing a bit of a drought, Mainz have recovered with consecutive victories in their last two matches. The Null-Fuenfer are still second in the Bundesliga standings, and are on track to end the first half of the season in such a lofty position. If they are to take three points on Saturday, they will have to do so without center half Bo Svensson, who is injured.
Freiburg - Hamburg
Freiburg have been in the nosebleed region of the table for most of this season, but were brought back down to Earth in last week’s 3-0 loss to Hannover. The Breisgau are level on points with Hamburg, but will have plenty of work to do if they are to earn three points from their next match. Still unfit trio Simon Pouplin, Pavel Krmas, and Tommy Bechmann will have to miss out on the action due to injuries.
Hamburg earned a 4-2 victory against a self-destructive Stuttgart side in their last outing, but even so, remain in the disappointingly low standing of seventh place. The northerners cannot afford to drop points before the winter break, and will have to come out on the offensive in Saturday’s road match. Eljero Elia and Dennis Aogo could make long-awaited returns, but Miroslav Stepanek, Joris Mathijsen, Gojko Kacar, Marcell Jansen, Dennis Diekmeier and Romeo Castelen will remain in the stands due to injuries.
Stuttgart - Hoffenheim
Stuttgart were 2-1 up on Young Boys in midweek, but conceded three goals in rapid succession en route to their second 4-2 loss in a matter of days. Several regular starters were rested in midweek, so coach Jens Keller is set to have a well-prepared squad. Ciprian Marica is suspended for the match, and Khalid Boulahrouz and Johan Audel will have to miss out on the action due to injuries.
A late Gylfi Sigurdsson penalty deep in injury time earn Hoffenheim a point in their most recent match against Leverkusen. The villagers have been consistently tough to beat this year, and could make a late push to end the first half of the season in the top three. Ahead of their clash with Stuttgart, Ralf Rangnick has ruled out injured trio Chinedu Obasi, Tom Starke, and Josip Simunic.
Wolfsburg - Werder Bremen
Having drawn each of their last three matches, Wolfsburg have become tough to beat, but need to start winning matches if they are to achieve their season goals. Still in 13th place, the 2009 Bundesliga champions have a long way to go, but as the adage goes, a journey of a thousand miles begins with but a single step. Steve McClaren will have to do without Grafite, Fabian Johnson, and Arne Friedrich.
An experimental Bremen side earned a 3-0 victory over St Pauli in their last match, and in doing so kept pace with the majority of the teams vying for Europa League contention. The injury crisis has eased for Thomas Schaaf, who is expected to shuffle his line-up despite some promising performances from newcomers in the last 10 days. Hat-trick hero Hugo Almeida is suspended, and Mikael Silvestre, Wesley, Claudio Pizarro, Sebastian Boenisch, Tim Borowski, Naldo, and Christian Vander have been ruled out for medical reasons.
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Schalke - Bayern Munich
Schalke had looked bright for a spell in late November, but all that went away with a 5-0 hammering at the hands of Kaiserslautern in Round 14. Felix Magath has taken harsh action against his under-performing stars, making Saturday’s clash a real pressure cooker. Jermaine Jones, Hans Sarpei and Alexander Baumjohann have been banished to the reserves for disciplinary reasons, and Christoph Moritz, Tim Hoogland and Levan Kenia are all unfit to play.
In spite of inconsistent play throughout the fall term, Bayern have slowly advanced in the Bundesliga standings, and have crept into the top five. Well rested and coming off an emphatic victory over Frankfurt, the defending champions will look to finish the fall term with a perfect record in December. Miroslav Klose returned to training this week and could make an appearance, but this weekend comes too soon for Holger Badstuber, Ivica Olic, Arjen Robben.
Bayer Leverkusen - Koeln
Leverkusen were unfortunate to be held to a draw by Hoffenheim in their most recent match, a result that left die Werkself 11 points behind Dortmund. Still third, Jupp Heynckes’ men have a good chance to finish the fall campaign near the league summit. A number of reserves played in Wednesday’s 1-0 win over Rosenborg in Norway, meaning that Heynckes’ usual starters will be fresh for Sunday’s match. Rene Adler is expected to regain fitness in time for the match, but Michael Ballack and Sebastian Kiessling have been ruled out due to injuries.
Koeln were unfortunate to be held to a draw against Wolfsburg last week, and the result was not enough to save sporting director MIchael Meier’s job. Die Geissboecke desperately need points if they are to avoid relegation, and face a very difficult task ahead of this weekend. To make matters worse, injured Milivoje Novakovic, Kevin McKenna, and Kostas Giannoulis have been ruled out of contention to feature in the match, and Adil Chihi has been dropped for misconduct.
Nuernberg - Borussia Dortmund
After starting well, Nuernberg were eventually overcome by Mainz in their last match, and suffered a 3-0 defeat. The Bavarians are in mid-table, but would take great confidence for being just the third team to take points from Dortmund. If they are to earn a positive result, they will have to do without Javier Pinola (suspended), as well as Albert Bunjaku and Rubin Okotie (both injured).
The Dortmund machine continued to plow its way through all in its path on Thursday; the Bundesliga leaders earned a 3-0 win over Karpaty Lviv in the Europa League. Juergen Klopp’s men are closing in on a Bundesliga record for most points earned in a season. The Nuernberg clash will be a tricky one for der BvB, who will be without talismanic striker Lucas Barrios. In addition to the Paraguayan hit man, Sebastian Kehl, Patrick Owomoyela, and Florian Kringe are set to miss out.
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