The long awaited return on the German Bundesliga is upon us and it got underway Friday night with a thrilling 5-4 win by Schalke over Hannover. The U.S. players on each team were unavailable as Jermaine Jones is still serving his suspension and Steve Cherundolo continues to deal with injury problems. The win temporarily moved Schalke back into fifth place ahead of Freiburg and Mainz. Those two teams face each other this week as U.S. eligible Shawn Parker hopes to feature for Mainz.
Danny Williams and Fabian Johnson are hoping that matchday 18 brings a fresh start for Hoffenheim. Hoffenheim has a league worst -18 goal differential heading into the match with Borussia Mönchengladbach. Gladbach finished the first half with three draws and two wins. Meanwhile Timmy Chandler and Nürnberg take on Hamburger SV. Chandler and his teammates have built a little bit of momentum but still find themselves only eight points out of a relegation spot.
In England Stoke City is looking to rebound after losing their last two Premier League matches by a combined 7-0. They come off a 4-1 extra time FA Cup win over Crystal Palace with Geoff Cameron still firmly planted as a starter. Maurice Edu was unable to crack the lineup and was loan to Bursaspor in Turkey. Stoke’s opponent, Swansea, are riding a five match unbeaten streak.
Aston Villa will face West Bromwich Albion at the Hawthorns in a derby game. The Villians have lost four of their last five while West Brom is on a three match skid. Joe Bennett and Ron Vlaar may return for Villa leaving Eric Lichaj’s starting role in jeopardy. Brad Guzan also looks to feature for Aston Villa.
In one of the marquee matchups this weekend, Clint Dempsey and Tottenham take on table topper Manchester United at White Hart Lane. The Spurs are 15 points back in fourth place with manager Andre Villas-Boas feeling like they are playing a very confident squad. United has won four in a row, but Tottenham is unbeaten over their last six matches. However, Manchester United are 6-3-1 over the last ten matches against the Spurs.
Rounding out the Premier League fixtures, Tim Howard and Everton match up against Southampton on Monday. In other matches featuring U.S. players Tim Ream and Stuart Holton of Bolton play Crystal Palace. Jozy Altidore and AZ Alkmaar play Vitesse Arnhem while Maurice Edu looks to make his Bursaspor debut against Kayserispor. Sacha Kljestan and Anderlecht play Zulte-Waregem as the dream of the Belgain double remains alive. Michael Bradley and AS Roma take on Inter Milan.
Which match up are you looking forward to?