Hannover-Hertha BSC preview

The final match of the Bundesliga’s third round of fixtures sees last season’s 2. Bundesliga champions travel to in-form Hannover. The last time these sides met,a top-flight clash in January 2010, Hertha Berlin came away from the AWD-Arena with a 3-0 victory. Given their patchy start to the new season, a repeat of that scoreline looks highly unlikely. However, you wouldn’t rule out Markus Babbel’s men taking all three points, as Hannover put in a heroic and draining shift on Thursday night to defeat Sevilla in the Europa League.

Mirko Slomka’s side were outstanding against their more illustrious Spanish opponents. Jan Schlaudraff, in particular, was unplayable; his energy, intelligence and determination was just too much for the Sevilla defence too handle. Left-winger Konstantin Rausch was equally imperious, although every man in maroon did his job that night against a technically more accomplished side with world class players such as Jesús Navas. Slomka might make changes from the team that defeated Sevilla for the game against Hertha today, however, although the coach insists that he has the squad to handle fighting on two fronts. “The lads will be able to cope with the double burden – this is why we expanded our squad during the summer,” said Slomka, adding: “This game means a lot to us as it enables us to build on our points tally.” 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