Hannover 3-1 Bayern Munich

The first-half formations.

High-flying Hannover stunned an again off-colour Bayern Munich side and moved into second place in the Bundesliga table.

Both sides came into this game in nigh-on full strength condition. There were three key absentees, however – Bastian Schweinsteiger, who’d accumulated five yellow cards (although given his sketchy recent performances, some might argue he and the team needed a brief break from one another), Luis Gustavo, who had the sniffles, and for the hosts, top scorer Didier Ya Konan, sidelined with a knee injury.

Although Hannover started the game one place ahead of Bayern, you could argue the psychological advantage was with the Bavarians going on the last four results between the two sides: 5-1, 3-0, 7-0, and most recently, in October 2010, 3-0. The victories – 18-1 on aggregate – were all in Bayern’s favour. And, ominously, the 5-1 win that came in the March of 2009 was on the back of a midweek cup elimination for FC Hollywood – something Louis van Gaal’s side experienced on Wednesday when humiliated by Schalke at the Allianz Arena. 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 0-4 Borussia Dortmund

The starting positions/general positions of the players

Dortmund condemned Hannover to a fourth defeat in six games as Jurgen Klopp’s side moved four points clear at the top of the table. Die Borussen set a new record in the process by becoming the first ever top-flight side in Germany to win each of their opening six away games, and the win, with goals from four different players, also keeps Dortmund tens points ahead of the Champions League chasing-pack.

From the first peep, Hannover saw more of the ball, but only in harmless areas. Good Dortmund pressing forced hurried decisions, and prevented Hannover from doing much. Mirko Slomka had his side invite pressure near their own goal by getting Florian Fromlowitz to roll short. The idea was to entice the league-leading visitors higher up the pitch as a unit, Hannover then scooping a ball over the top for either one of their alert strikers to run with, or feeding a wideman to carry down the channel and get the Dortmund defence back-pedalling.

However, Jurgen Klopp’s side are as ruthlessly disciplined as they are fit.  Dortmund harried Hannover into submission by hunting and biting in packs of three (particularly in the centre, where one of the deeper midfielders pushed up, and Mario Götze pushed in). Then, keeping their defence deep, they recycled possession and came forward themselves. And what a sight the stream of yellow shirts piling upfield is! Dortmund counter-attack with careless abandon, and are able to do so because neither full-back has a second thought about flying forwards. With the nominal attackers all still high after pressing the first ball, bodies abound for the carriers to either feed, or use as decoys. 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