All times Pacific
Tyler Adams: RB Leipzig vs. Hoffenheim, Saturday, 6:30 AM
There was massive news for Adams this week as it was confirmed officially for the first time that he is back in training with RB Leipzig. That doesn’t mean he will be in the squad this weekend, but Adams should see the field before the winter break. That is critical, too, as he needs to get his legs back under him, having not played a competitive match since May. Leipzig are a point out of first, and this match will be extra important to their coach, Julian Nagelsmann, as it marks his return against his old club Hoffenheim.
John Brooks: Wolfsburg at Freiburg, Saturday, 6:30 AM
Since his return from injury, Brooks has helped anchor a three-man backline that has given up the fewest goals in the Bundesliga so far (13). There have been some worrying results lately, though; the Wolves recently gave up three to Dortmund and Gent (in the Europa League) and also conceded three last weekend against Werder Bremen. Still, Brooks should remain firmly in the squad, especially after a solid performance against Oleksandriya last week in the Europa League and an assist on the weekend in that aforementioned loss to Werder.
Zack Steffen and Alfredo Morales: Fortuna Dusseldorf at Borussia Dortmund, Saturday, 6:30 AM
Despite an early keeping error last week that led to Hoffenheim’s only goal in a 1-1 draw, Steffen still made a plethora of saves and surely will be one of the first names on the team sheet this week against Dortmund. The 24-year-old shot stopper will have to be excellent for the struggling side, which has produced very little offense this season and often leaves the keeper exposed. He’ll likely have
Weston McKennie: Schalke at Bayer Leverkusen, Saturday, 9:30 AM
McKennie has appeared in both Schalke matches since the international break, including a start and a full 90 minutes last time out. He remains either in the XI or the first man off the bench for the third-place side. McKennie is on four yellow cards for the season, one away from suspension, but oddly enough, it could be most beneficial to pick it up in this contest or next. Schalke played mid-table Eintracht Frankfurt and Wolfsburg before a gauntlet of upstart Freiburg, leaders Monchengladbach, and powerhouse Bayern Munich. McKennie will certainly want to be in the squad for that trio of major matches straddling the winter break.
Josh Sargent: Werder Bremen vs. Paderbord, Sunday, 9:00 AM
Sargent got bad news this week as the striker has been ruled out of the Werder team until the other side of the winter break. A lingering muscle tear has finally proven too much to handle, as Sargent, who was playing with the knock for the last month, is going to be given the time to heal up fully for the second half of the season. He will miss Bremen’s last four matches of 2019.
Christian Pulisic: Chelsea at Everton, Saturday, 4:30 AM
Pulisic logged 86 minutes in a midweek win against Aston Villa, and while that doesn’t rule him out of their weekend contest against Everton by any means, manager Frank Lampard –– who praised Pulisic recently –– has to carefully navigate an upcoming stretch. Pulisic has been one of Chelsea’s best players lately, and the Blues have a must-win Champions League match against Lille on Tuesday; Lampard will want his top side out for that match. That could lead to Pulisic’s exclusion from the starting XI against an Everton side that has been struggling and fired its manager Thursday. Either way, don’t read too much into the winger potentially not being in the starting XI come this weekend.
DeAndre Yedlin: Newcastle vs. Southampton, Sunday, 6 AM
Due to a hip injury, Yedlin missed last weekend’s contest with Manchester City, and though it was reported he was in training ahead of Thursday’s 2-0
Timothy Weah: Lille at PSG, Friday, 11:45 AM
Weah will not be playing anytime soon, as confirmed by Lille’s official report recently. His hamstring injury looks like it will keep him out until the second half of the season. He was pictured doing some individual workouts this week, so he is at least on the mend, but it still could be a while for the talented 19-year-old.
Turkish Super Lig
Tyler Boyd: Besiktas at Kasimpasa, Sunday, 8:00 AM
Boyd rarely features in Besiktas’ Super Lig lineup, and that probably won’t change after the attacker started (and scored) on Thursday against fourth-tier 24 Erzincanspor in the Turkish Cup. It seems that Besiktas have a clear intention of playing Boyd in cup competitions, which has led to some decent run in the Europa League, but the same can not be said for league tilts. It would be a surprise to see him in the starting XI for the third-place side this weekend.
Sergino Dest: Ajax vs. Willem II, Friday, 11:15 AM
Dest has played in each of Ajax’s last four games, though he’s subbed on in all but one. It seems likely, then, that the young fullback will take up his usual place on the bench for Friday’s matchup against Willem II, flying high so far in a surprising fourth place. With Ajax unbeaten, holding a six-point lead atop the table, and having scored 52 goals in 15 Eredivisie matches, there’s little reason to expect manager Erik ten Hag to make major changes this weekend; even if Dest doesn’t start, though, he seems like a good bet to get some more minutes under his belt, one way or another.
Ethan Horvath: Club Brugge at Sint-Truiden, Saturday, 11:30 AM
There were some signs that Brugge would give Horvath a game as they faced Oostende in the Belgian Cup Round of 16 on Wednesday, but Simon Mignolet got the nod instead and helped the side to a penalty shootout win. It’s highly likely that Horvath will remain on the bench for the near future, including Saturday’s game at midtable Sint-Truiden.
Bobby Wood: Hamburg vs. Heidenheim, Friday, 9:30 AM
Wood has started Hamburg’s last two games, although he hasn’t been able to make much of an impact in either, coming off on 60 minutes and at halftime. It’s hard to say whether he’ll be in the squad against Heidenheim, who are in fourth place and have a very strong defense. Wood will likely be in the 18 at least; if he’s in the starting XI, he’ll be under a lot of pressure to finally find the net.
Tim Ream: Fulham vs. Bristol City, Saturday, 7:00 AM
With four straight wins, Fulham have moved into third place in the Championship, but fifth-place Bristol City — who have scored the second-most goals in the league — will present a tall task for Ream and his fellow Cottagers defenders. Since missing the season opener, Ream has played every league minute for Fulham this year, and the 32-year-old should again take up his role in the center of the defense on Saturday.
Duane Holmes: Derby County at Blackburn, Saturday, 7:00 AM
Holmes has become one of the first names on the Derby team sheet of late, although his production still isn’t quite what it could be. Derby have been inconsistent all year and have scored just 20 goals, fourth-worst in the division. Against a middling Blackburn side that’s on a modest three-game winning streak, Holmes will likely get the start, and he’ll need to be sharp for the Rams as they try to jump-start their campaign.
Antonee Robinson: Wigan at Luton, Saturday, 7:00 AM
One of just two players to start every game for Wigan, and following his first career goal last week, Robinson looks set to take up his place at left back for what will be a massive clash between 22nd-place Wigan (currently in the last relegation spot) and 21st-place Luton, who are just a point better off than their opponents this weekend. Wigan are winless in seven, so Robinson will need to continue his solid play while hoping a few of his teammates also pick up the slack come Saturday.
Matt Miazga: Reading vs. Birmingham, Saturday, 7:00 AM
Reading also have an important game this weekend, but theirs is in a muddled midtable instead of a relegation fight. The Royals have won three of their last five, while Birmingham are winless in five, so Miazga and his teammates will feel optimistic heading into the matchup. When healthy, the center back has been excellent this year, so he should again be in the starting lineup on Saturday at the Madejski Stadium.