Preview: FC Bayern vs. Hannover 96

MOENCHENGLADBACH, GERMANY - MARCH 21: Manuel Neuer of Bayern issues instructions during the DFB Cup semi final match between Borussia Moenchengladbach and FC Bayern Muenchen at Borussia Park Stadium on March 21, 2012 in Moenchengladbach, Germany. (Photo by Christof Koepsel/Bongarts/Getty Images)

In Match Week 27 of the 2011-2012 1. Bundesliga season. FC Bayern has won 4 straight, and all signs are that the club is feeling confident after finally downing Monchengladbach. Nonetheless, this is a match that won't be won easily, and a failure by Bayern to bring our "A" game could sink our Bundesliga title chances.

The Line-up

No fresh news on Bastian Schweinsteiger. It appears his recent "tweak" might have been a substantial re-aggravation of the ankle injury, because he hasn't been able to practice in a week. The club's official site usually posts the interview with Jupp Heynckes (which contains either line-up information, or at least vague hints) on Friday. So check back tomorrow and see if we have any updates.

The obvious issue here is the fatigue factor - Bayern had a grueling Wednesday match that went into overtime, while Hannover has been chillin' in the cut all week. I would almost think that Hans-J might get a chance at some action, but Hannover is a solid club and Neuer seems to have stamina. Nonetheless, I'll make a few bold (ie, wrong) predictions:

Gomez

Ribery - Kroos - Robben

Schweinsteiger - Tymoschuk

Alaba - Badstuber - Boateng - Lahm

Neuer

That's right, I'm guessing (hoping) that Bastian will be fit, and Tymo will get the run next to him. Mueller looked like he was dragging before he was finally substituted on Wednesday. Contento is fit, so it wouldn't be a shock to see Lahm or Alabaster get a rest, but I don't feel confident enough to predict that.

The Opponent

A lot of moving parts here - you could make a case for Bayern getting another big, smashing win, or you could make a case that our winning streak comes to an end. On the one hand, Hannover is better rested, and coming off consecutive convincing wins (4-0 over St. Leige in Europa League, 4-1 over Koeln). They're also just a solid team,with 9 wins to only 6 losses, and they love draws, with 11 on the season. And they have plenty to fight for, with a Europa League spot still within their grasp. The signs are there for an opponent who's ready to inflict some hurt.

At the same time, it's at the Allianz, where FC Bayern is excellent, and Hannover's road form has been poor: all of their 6 losses have been on the road, and their goal differential is -12.

Either way, H96's biggest scoring threat it probably Mohammed Abdellaoue, who is approaching 20 across all competitions this season and who notched a penalty against us in Hannover's shock 2-1 win earlier this season. Mama Diouf, who came off the bench to bag 2 last week, can also be dangerous. On a pure comparison of talent, Bayern clearly has the edge, but when you consider fatigue and the fact that H96 has been playing well recently, this isn't a sure thing.

Elsewhere in the Bundesliga

Sunday is a big match as BVB goes on the road to take on Koeln. The Billy-goats have been playing somewhat poorly, but they're at home and they can score goals. If they bag an early goal, they have a decent chance of getting at least a point out of that one. If Dortmund gets one or two in the early-going, though, I think they cruise.

Other interesting matches include the Battle of the Burgs (Wolfs vs. Ham) tomorrow afternoon, Schalke - Leverkusen in a 4-vs-5 match with European implications, and Freiburg vs. Kaiserslautern in what could be a "winner climbs out of the relegation zone" match.

Final Notes

- This one kicks off at 3:30 PM Munich time (10:30 AM Eastern USA time) Saturday morning. It will be carried on ESPN Deportes and ESPN 3, according to their site, but keep in mind the ESPN Deportes line-up sometimes changes at the last minute. We'll be here with the Match Day Thread and a recap with video highlights afterward,

- The SB Nation interface doesn't do umlauts - my conception is that you can sort of rig an umlaut by putting an "e" after the initial vow. In other words, "Mueller" if you can't do "M [u-with-umlaut] ller." I'll try to get a more permanent solution next week.

- Finally, I love the "Alabaster" nickname, but I might be even more bullish on the more-expansive "Alabaster Jones." Check it out:

It would be especially fun to say "man, don't be givin' me no nut-roll" when David tackled somebody. On a related note, this is the best job I've ever had. Thanks for reading.

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