Munich - With the Bundesliga in the grips of a midweek fixture list Wednesday evening could prove to be a pivotal point in the seasons of several sides that currently languishing in the bottom-half of the table.
Borussia Mönchengladbach - VfL Wolfsburg
Borussia Mönchengladbach, VfL Wolfsburg, VfB Stuttgart and FC Augsburg are all in action (kick-off 20:00 CET), while 1. FC Nuremberg host 1899 Hoffenheim in a delayed start (kick-off 20:45 CET).
In a battle between two sides struggling to maintain their European ambitions Gladbach and Wolfsburg come into Wednesday's encounter in contrasting form. While the Wolves have won three of their last five to steadily climb the table thanks to Bas Dost's goalscoring exploits, Gladbach's inconsistency has seen their progress plateau under Lucien Favre.
Wolves boast more bite
"[Wolfsburg] have been on a good run in recent weeks and are scoring lots of goal away from home," conceded the Foals head coach, who is still without the club captain Filip Daems and record signing Luuk de Jong owing to injury. "We want to put in a good performance, maintain our efficiency and collect a win." Gladbach haven't kept a clean sheet since Matchday 7, but Favre seems more concerned with his side's attacking exploits: "We've got to start creating more chances again."
Conversely, Wolfsburg head coach Lorenz-Günther Köstner is beaming at the array of attacking talent in his side - the Wolves have scored seven times in their last three fixtures on foreign soil. With Brazilian midfielder Josue suspended, Köstner revealed "it looks like Christian Träsch will replace him". The 60-year-old went on to outline his plan for securing the victory: "We can't let ourselves get caught out on the counter, but also should not forget to break forward quickly."
VfB Stuttgart - FC Augsburg
After suffering a painful derby defeat to local rivals Freiburg at the weekend, head coach Bruno Labbadia has called for his Stuttgart side to "learn to be ice cold in front of goal and grind out hard-fought victories" when they face bottom-of-the-table Augsburg on Wednesday.
"Football can be brutal"
Four points from a possible twelve in recent matches is the type of record Labbadia will expect his side to improve upon. "We have to put Augsburg under pressure and be clinical in our play," said the VfB boss. Labbadia knows FCA "won't make things comfortable for us", but is confident his side, who are yet to lose a Bundesliga match against the Bavarian outfit, "have it in them" to collect a result during midweek.
While Sascha Mölders maintained his purple patch since returning from injury by scoring in a third successive match, Augsburg were ultimately unfortunate to only walk away from their match against Gladbach with a point on Sunday. "We were on the right track for 85 minutes against Mönchengladbach, but football can be brutal at times," stated head coach Markus Weinzierl. "We've put this game behind us though and are in a positive mood travelling to Stuttgart, where we want to pick up a win."
1. FC Nuremberg - 1899 Hoffenheim
For Nuremberg and Hoffenheim, both of whom are flirting with the drop zone at present, picking up three points would go a long way towards easing the pressure on the sides' respective situations at the foot of the table. The hosts have only managed one win in their last ten matches but will still fancy their chances against the Sinsheim side, who are yet to tap into their true potential.
Two points from two derbies was not a bad return for Dieter Hecking's FCN, but instead of focusing on the missed opportunities against Bayern and Fürth, the 48-year-old highlighted the importance of his 99th game as Nuremberg head coach. "With a win we could take a big step in the right direction and stay within touching distance of the teams ahead of us," said Hecking, who wants to see "more football" from a side that will be without the suspended Markus Feulner.
For Hoffenheim, who have never lost on the road to der Club, Wednesday's fixture offers them a chance to move out of the drop zone at their hosts expense, an opportunity head coach Markus Babbel is desperate for his side to take. "The team boasts a great deal of potential and the trick now is to turn that into and quality and points," said the former Bayern defender. "We've got players that we have full confidence in, but now they need to concentrate and demonstrate on the pitch what they show in training."