Cologne 4-0 Hannover

The first half formations.

A commanding second half performance from Cologne saw them overcome a Hannover side who offered surprisingly little after going a goal behind.

This Friday night round 26 fight saw the teams placed fifth and fourth in the form table come up against one another. With Geromel still absent through injury, Frank Schaefer was forced to use Kevin Pezzoni as an emergency centre-back again. The inconvenience of having to do this was shown when the gangly midfielder was at fault for Dortmund’s only goal in last Friday night’s 1-0 win – failing to respond quickly or intelligently enough to the assisting pass. Hannover, fresh from last weekend’s heroic win against Bayern Munich, were again without top scorer Didier Ya Konan, as well as talismanic midfielder Sérgio Pinto. They knew a win would temporarily lift them above Leverkusen into second spot, and eight points clear of Bayern – with international fixtures allocated to the last weekend in March, three points would even have ensured they remained above the holding champions going into the penultimate month of the season. Cologne, still just four points above the relegation places coming into this game, knew a win would lift them above Schalke into tenth spot: and, more crucially, a win would give them some much-needed breathing space from those sides in the relegation zone. Continue reading

Hannover 2-1 Stuttgart

The first-half formations.

A brace from Didier Ya Konan punished two defensive mistakes as Hannover moved into second place. As a result, Stuttgart will be stuck in the bottom three over the winter break.

Stuttgart came into this game as the only team who hadn’t won away from home in the Bundesliga this season, and knew that a win wouldn’t even be enough to lift them out of the drop zone. Hannover, on the other hand, went into the game knowing that a win would give them a new club record of five consecutive victories – and, as mentioned in the introduction, a win would also lift them up to second place. That’s Hannover. In second place. In December. Oh, and they’d be taking that position from Mainz. Yes, Mainz.

Unsurprisingly, it was the home side who started like the team gunning for a place on the podium. They pressed high and hard from the off, and Konstantin Rausch instantly forced a mistake from Phillipp Degen as Stuttgart enacted some of the laziest opposition-sucking keep-ball you’ll ever see.

Mirko Slomka kept his 4-4-2 close together even when they were pressing, and this ensured that Stuttgart’s banks were forced to stand further back in order to get a bit of space.

In terms of attacking, the away side were forced to use the flanks. Arthur Boka, Timo Gebhart and Christian Gentner linked up and carried the ball in turns down the left, looking to feed the last shoulder-lurking figure of Cacau. Hannover were also intent on attacking down the left, but they were only able to surge forward on the break. A better footballing side would have been more comfortable with using the ball to prise open the Stuttgart defence, but Hannover aren’t a technically-gifted unit, and this allowed Stuttgart to creep higher as the game went on and keep them penned in and dawdling. Continue reading

Hannover 96 4-1 Werder Bremen

The first half formations

It’s difficult to envisage Werder Bremen turning in a performance as bad as this one throughout the rest of season. From back to front, they were absolutely shambolic from first minute to last, and it’s not going overboard to suggest that the squad forks out to refund those loyal fans who made the journey.

Although this was Bremen’s third game in as many days, and their back four was the definition of makeshift, neither excuse adequately justifies the sheer array of defensive and midfield lapses, not to mention the paucity of anything of substance from the attackers.

Bremen only managed to get on the scoreboard because of a silly foul during an innocuous floated free-kick. Unsurprisingly, Torsten Frings coolly dispatched the set-piece from the spot, briefly levelling the ‘contest’.

Proceedings began with possession shared, but patterns conspicuous by their absence. Hunger, on and off the ball, was immediately more forthcoming from the home side, but Bremen looked marginally more inventive.

However, after several one-two moves saw the return pass overhit, Hannover grew into the game and took control. The width they maintained was fantastic, and neither Mikaël Silvestre or Clemenz Fritz could halt Moritz Stoppelkamp and Konstantin Rausch respectively.

Hannover’s strikers did a great job throughout too, keeping the pressure on Bremen’s melina-trying defence and forcing mistakes, and staying close enough to the midfield to give counter-attacks cohesion. Continue reading