Munich - There are a trio of crucial ties taking place on Matchday 10 of the Bundesliga, with Bayer 04 Leverkusen hosting FC Augsburg, 1899 Hoffenheim travelling to Hannover 96 and 1. FSV Mainz 05 looking to reverse their slump at home to cellar-dwellers Eintracht Braunschweig (kick-offs 15:30 CET).
Bayer 04 Leverkusen - FC Ausgburg
bundesliga.com looks ahead to Saturday's encounters...
The only blot on an otherwise perfect BayArena copybook was Matchay 8’s draw with FC Bayern München and their visitors on this occasion also happen to be from Bavaria. Sami Hyypiä’s men go into their clash with Augsburg on the back of a comprehensive 4-0 victory over Shakhtar Donetsk in the UEFA Champions League, but the Finnish coach is keen to avoid a European hangover.
“We need to switch on again and concentrate,” said the 40-year-old. “Augsburg are very dangerous, but I’m confident we’re good enough to get three points.” Hyypiä confirmed Lars Bender will miss Saturday's match, claiming “it’s a bit too early for his return”, but both Stefan Kießling and Emir Spahic are likely to be fit after picking up minor knocks in Wednesday's victory over Donetsk.
Augsburg, who are without a win in the league since their Matchday 5 victory over SC Freiburg, have a former Leverkusen defender in their ranks. Jan-Ingwer Callsen-Bracker spent six years with the die Werkself and the 29-year-old has warned of his former team's “incredible attacking potential”.
Augsburg coach Markus Weinzierl is also wary of their in-form hosts, particularly after his side's home defeat to VfL Wolfsburg on Matchday 9. “It’s a tough one, but we want to get at least a point,” he said. Augsburg's daunting task is made all the harder by the absence of suspended club captain Paul Verhaegh, while Matthias Ostrzolek is also banned.
Hannover 96 - TSG 1899 Hoffenheim
Hannover’s recent slump has brought them just four points from their last four Bundesliga games. Head coach Mirko Slomka, however, believes their most recent defeat, a 1-0 loss to Borussia Dortmund, didn't reflect their "good performance" at the Signal Iduna Park. One reason for their downturn in fortunes has been a lack of goals: They have only hit the net three times in the last four games, and the long-term injury to Didier Ya Konan is unlikely to help matters.
Slomka will be relying on the returning Mame Diouf to take over the goal scoring mantle. The Senegal striker has recovered from a thigh injury to lead the line against Hoffenheim. Die Roten also welcome back club captain Steve Cherundolo, who is in line for his first appearance of the season.
In stark contrast to their hosts, Hoffenheim have had little problem scoring goals. Only Dortmund have scored more so far this season, but Hoffenheim's 21 strikes haven't necessarily translated into points. Markus Gisdol’s men have only taken two of a possible twelve from their last four games, and their hopes of a much-needed victory were dealt a blow with the news that Kevin Volland will miss the trip to Niedersachsen.
Volland, who has found the net on five occasions so far this season, will be sorely missed at the HDI Arena. To make matters worse for Hoffenheim, US international Fabian Johnson is also unavailable for Saturday's match against a Hannover side that Gisdol described as “attacking, effective and confident”.
1. FSV Mainz 05 - Eintracht Braunschweig
Mainz put up a good fight against Bayern on Matchday 10 - before succumbing to a Mario Götze-inspired fightback - but go into their clash with bottom-of-the-table Braunschweig with serious injury concerns. Julian Baumgartlinger, Bo Svensson and Maxim Choupo-Moting are all missing, but coach Thomas Tuchel refused to be too downbeat. “They’re big losses, but you can’t fight fate. That is what sport is like”.
Elkin Soto and Niki Zimling are likely to come into midfield. Although Braunschweig currently prop up the Bundesliga table, Tuchel knows all too well how tricky matches against promoted teams can be after his side lost 3-1 to Hertha Berlin on Matchday 7. “It’ll be a difficult one,” warned Tuchel. “We need to be patient and keep cool heads throughout.”
Captain Dogan a doubt
It’s not just Tuchel who has injury worries though. Torsten Lieberknecht’s Braunschweig are likely to start without defensive duo Deniz Dogan and Ermin Bicakcic. “There are definitely question marks over their participation,” said Lieberknecht.
Braunschweig's solitary win this season came against Wolfsburg on Matchday 8 and Lieberknecht is hoping his side will take heart from their narrow loss to FC Schalke 04 last time out. “It’s important that we see further developments” he said. “As long as we start to pick up points, everything will be alright.”