Bayern plays injury-hit Werder in Bundesliga
Werder Bremen travels to title holder Bayern Munich without both its regular central defenders as the Bundesliga season resumes with a showdown between two Champions League sides.
The absence of Per Merstesacker and Naldo could force Bremen coach Thomas Schaaf to use new signing Mikael Silvestre in a central role in Saturday's game. Silvestre was one of several players signed by Bundesliga clubs just before the transfer window closed ahead of the international break.
Mauro Camoranesi could make his debut for Stuttgart, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Jose Manuel Jurado could start for Schalke and Brazilian midfielder Wesley, who is seen as replacement for Mesut Oezil, could come into Bremen's starting 11.
Bremen has gotten off to a mixed start and its shaky defense conceded six goals in the first two games.
"It's a very unsatisfactory situation that we now lose another defensive pillar in Mertesacker in addition to Naldo," Schaaf said.
Mertesacker has a fractured left-eye socket. He was hurt in Germany's 6-1 win over Azerbaijan on Tuesday in Euro 2012 qualifying. Naldo is nursing a knee injury and has not played this season.
The injuries to Mertesacker and Naldo have overshadowed the absence of striker Claudio Pizarro, who is out with a hamstring injury.
Bayern will be seeking to recover from a surprising 2-0 loss at promoted Kaiserslautern before the break.
The defending Bundesliga champion is the only club that has not brought in any new players. Winger Arjen Robben is out for months with a torn hamstring but coach Louis van Gaal has decided not to disturb the chemistry of his team by signing new players.
Schalke's coach Felix Magath went on a frenzied shopping spree, especially when last season's runner-up lost its first two games.
Huntelaar is coming off five goals in two games for the Netherlands against San Marino and Finland in Euro 2012 qualifying and will be hoping to bolster Schalke's attack, where another newcomer, former Real Madrid star Raul, has been ineffective in the first two games.
"Raul brings a lot of experience and we know each other very well from our common time at Real," Huntelaar said. I think we fit well together."
Magath upset fans with several player departures and signings, including former Germany defender Christoph Metzelder, another arrival from Real.
Metzelder was picked by Magath as the biggest culprit in Schalke's consecutive losses at the start of the season.
"Every player goes through such a phase and has to overcome it," Magath said of Metzelder.
Metzelder is expected to be in the team when Schalke kicks off the third round on Friday in Hoffenheim.
Hoffenheim is resembling its glory days of two years ago and is atop of the standings after a perfect start with two wins.
Another team to lose both opening games is Stuttgart, which hopes former Italy and Juventus midfielder Camoranesi will trigger a turnaround in fortunes when the team visits Freiburg on Saturday.
Kaiserslautern shares top spot with Hoffenheim and on Sunday visits Mainz, another team with a perfect start.
Hamburger SV, the only big name among the leaders, hosts promoted Nuremberg on Saturday. Surprise package Hannover, another side with two wins, hosts Bayer Leverkusen, which is coming off a 6-3 loss to Borussia Moenchengladbach at home.
Moenchengladbach hosts Eintracht Frankfurt, which is still without a point, Also Saturday, Borussia Dortmund plays Wolfsburg.
On Sunday, Cologne will be hoping for its first points at home against promoted St. Pauli.