Jefferson Farfan has hit all three of his Bundesliga goals for Schalke at home this season
Jefferson Farfan has hit all three of his Bundesliga goals for Schalke at home this season

Schalke look to bounce back; historical first in Düsseldorf

Munich - FC Schalke 04 are determined to get back on track at home to SV Werder Bremen after last week's slip-up, while Hamburger SV face a long trip south to SC Freiburg and Fortuna Düsseldorf welcome 1899 Hoffenheim for the first time ever on Saturday afternoon (all kick-offs 15:30 CET).

FC Schalke 04 - SV Werder Bremen

Schalke's fightback to earn a 2-2 draw at home to Arsenal in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday will have gone a long way to restoring confidence in a side that surprisingly lost 3-2 to Hoffenheim last weekend. Despite that defeat, the Royal Blues remain second in the table and can rely on their good record at the Veltins Arena, where Jefferson Farfan has scored each of his three league goals so far.

Coach Huub Stevens is forced to reshuffle the right side of his defence, with Japanese full-back Atsuto Uchida out with a thigh strain, while Marco Höger has a knee injury. "It's annoying, but we'll find a solution," said the Dutch tactician. "I've always said we have enough quality in our squad to compensate for absences."

Improving guests

The visitors, meanwhile, are in equally buoyant mood, having taken seven points from their last three games to move almost unnoticed up to seventh. "I'm confident because we've trained well all week and our good results have given us self-belief," coach Thomas Schaaf said.

The Bremen boss will once again be looking to Aaron Hunt to lead the way, after the stand-in captain put in an inspirational goalscoring performance to down Mainz last Sunday, taking his tally for the season to five. Worryingly for Werder, however, is the fact that they have won just once on the road this term, conceding ten of their total 15 goals away from home.

SC Freiburg - Hamburger SV

The Bundesliga's southernmost club host their northern equivalents in a mid-table battle in the Black Forest. Freiburg are determined to return to winning ways having gained just a solitary point from their two most recent outings. "We have to work on going in front again," team boss Christian Striech said. "Then you have more room to play in and you can counterattack better."

The charismatic coach will have to make do without the services of defenders Immanuel Höhn (knee) and Matthias Ginter (back), while Johannes Flum is doubtful due to illness. Streich is at least able to call on joint top-scorers Daniel Caligiuri and Max Kruse (three goals each) and it will be a special occasion for the latter, who will be keen to add to his goal-haul having spent three seasons at Hamburg's city rivals St. Pauli.

Injury concerns

While more kilometres separate these sides than any other top-flight clubs, the two are only a point apart in the standings. The visitors have improved greatly in recent weeks after a poor start to the campaign and have the fifth-best away record so far, with seven points from five games.

Coach Thorsten Fink is set to hand a debut to veteran Austrian international Paul Scharner, as regular centre-back Michael Mancienne has been laid low with the flu. Petr Jiracek (pelvis), Ivo Ilicevic (muscle complaints) and Marcus Berg (family reasons) are likewise all unavailable to participate in what Fink anticipates to be a "tough game" against a side that "have caused many teams problems."

Fortuna Düsseldorf - 1899 Hoffenheim

Norbert Meier's Düsseldorf are one of only three teams without a league victory on home soil thus far, but after overcoming Gladbach at the ESPRIT Arena in the DFB Cup last week, they will be hoping the dam has now been broken.

After going unbeaten on the first six Matchdays, the hosts have been slipping down the table rather ominously of late and are now just two points and one place above the relegation zone. Meier, who cited "individual errors" for last week's defeat to Bayer Leverkusen, will be deprived of Dani Schahin, Stelios Malezas and Bruno Soares through injury, while Nando Rafael is doubtful with a knock. Oliver Fink is free to play once more however, having served a one-match ban.

Historical first

Hoffenheim coach Markus Babbel is preparing for the first competitive match ever between these sides with a selection headache. His backline has been deprived of Chris and Jannik Vestergaard through injury, with Mathieu Delpierre also likely to miss out with a muscle strain.

Despite beating high-flyers Schalke 3-2 last week, Babbel is taking nothing for granted against the struggling hosts. "It'll be a difficult game," the former FC Bayern defender said. "We'll have to match them physically. If we do that, our footballing ability should see us through."