Bayern – Hannover preview, out of the comfort zone
bundesliga preview
Bayern – Hannover preview, out of the comfort zone

Bayern-HannoverIt will be a hard day’s work when Bayern hosts Hannover 96 on Saturday. The boys will have to become a single unit again after an international break, despite missing several key players. Will they manage it against re-energized visitors?

Hannover, returning to form

[pl_label type=”default”]Injuries: Diouf, Pander, Suspended: Huszti.[/pl_label]

It’s not easy being Hannover these days, even though they are in fourth place in the league.

Last season, they had off-the-field problems which diminished their cohesiveness. This team always is a collective project, so it hurt them. In preseason, they had many injuries, preventing them from putting together their best 11 on the pitch.

Right now, three important players are sidelined. The first is striker Mame Biram Diouf, a dangerous shooter and spectacular scorer who is hard to contain but currently injured. Left-back Christian Pander also should miss the game due to injury. He brings generalship, quality passing and set-piece taking to the table.

Then, left winger Szabolcs Huszti will sit this one out on a suspension. He is a solid creator and taker of free kicks.

I wonder how Mirko Slomka will deal with all those absentees against Bayern.

Having long played a 4-4-2, Hannover has turned its formation into a 4-2-3-1 with the addition of playmaker Edgar Prib from Greuther Fürth this summer. He’s a sharp passer who delivers quality crosses.

You may want to laugh at this embarrassing miss from Prib.

Other additions have been central defender Salif Sané, a robust guy in the middle, and right winger Leonardo Bittencourt.

As a whole, Hannover is quick with the ball, shoots often and is strong in the air. It uses the whole pitch to set up plays. Attacks often come from the right. Beware of Leon Andreasen, a defensive midfielder with a big, big shot. He launches rockets from any distance and can definitely score.

One thing that doesn’t change is Hannover’s weak defence. The first four matchdays have shown how they can’t read the play and challenge cleanly, earning them the second worst record in the Bundesliga with 13 yellow cards and one red. We have also seen ugly plays such as a Marcelo giveaway that lead to a goal.

Bayern, don’t expect fireworks

[pl_label type=”important”]Injuries: Javi, Götze, Thiago, Badstuber[/pl_label]

We have two problems this week.

First, a bunch of internationals are coming back from World Cup qualifiers. While the club loves to brag about their responsibilities abroad, this will cause lack of sync.

Second, the squad is banged up. Franck Ribéry came back from the qualifiers with left butt cheek pain. Will he be available? Mario Götze and Thiago will also be missing in attacking midfield.

The injury bug bites harder in defensive midfield. Bastian Schweinsteiger resumed regular training this week. I can’t imagine him being fit to play 90 minutes. Javi Martinez is out for a few weeks. We don’t have the defensive 1 to put in a 4-1-4-1. Pep may have to play Toni Kroos out of position or try his luck with Jan Kirchhoff. Unless he wants to make Philip Lahm uncomfortable in holding position again…

Therefore, I expect this game to be difficult for at least 45 minutes. Once the boys get going, though, there is plenty of room to hammer Hannover’s defence. The matter is how much time it will take to start the engines.

Call me a pessimist but I would see a draw as a fair result and a win as a good one. At least, the Südkurve makes its return. That won’t be luxury.

Possible lineups

FC Bayern (4-1-4-1)
Lahm, Boateng, Dante, Alaba
Robben, Müller, Kroos, Shaqiri

Hannover 96 (4-2-3-1)
Sakai, Marcelo, Sané, Pocognoli
Andreasen, Stindl
Bittencourt, Prib, Sobiech
Ya Konan

[pl_alertbox type=”success”]Game details

Location: Allianz Arena, München

Referee: Tobias Stieler[/pl_alertbox]

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