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Preview: FC Bayern vs. Hannover 96

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In match week 10 of the Bundesliga season. Bayern comes off a 1-1 mid-week draw vs. Napoli. H96, our combatants in last year’s epic battle for third place, currently sit in the seventh spot in the table, and earned a mid-week draw of their own, conceding a late goal to settle for a 2-2 draw vs. Copenhagen in the Europa League. Sunday’s match kicks off at 5:30 PM Hannover time, 11:30 AM Eastern USA time. It will be carried live on Gol! TV, but is not currently on the ESPN 3 play list.

The Line-up

Apparently, Rafinha’s absence was not tactical or rotational - our right back apparently had yet to reach 100% fitness from his adductor (thigh muscle?) injury.  Also, Daniel van Buyten missed a training session on Thursday with a mild illness, but Jupp Heynckes says the Bull will be “available for selection.”  So, nothing is certain on the back line.  Badstuber played the worst on Tuesday (aside from the own goal, he got nutmegged with a low pass and found himself struggling to stay with Napoli forwards on a couple of occasions), bit I know he can do better, so I’d actually like to see him get a start and work out the kinks against Hannover.

Up front, Robben is still a few weeks away from a return, so our 3-1 grouping of Ribery-Kroos-Müller and Gomez will likely get the nod.  Nothing official yet, I’ll post the full line-ups in the Match Day thread when they become available.

The Opponent

Across both Bundesliga and Europa League play, Hannover 96 had been undefeated in 5 matches before last week, when they ran into the Podolski hammer: Lukas scored twice to give Köln the points and send Hannover home empty-handed.  They followed that up with a 2-2 draw yesterday against Copenhagen, in which they were leading until an 89th minute goal doomed them to a draw.  Nonetheless, they’re still tied for first in their Europa League group and have a good chance to advance to the knockout stages.

Aside from the always tough task of playing Bayern, this should be an interesting mental test for Hannover: after a 5-match undefeated run that culminated in a hard-fought and physical win over Bremen, they’ve now had two straight disappointments (the Köln loss and the draw vs. Copenhagen).  If they allow themselves get frustrated, especially with that Copenhagen loss just taking place yesterday, this could send them into a tailspin.  But if manager Mirko Slomka can keep them focused and confident, this could be a tough match for Bayern, especially in the AWD Arena, where “Die Anderen Roten” are undefeated this year.

Hannover’s most dangerous offensive threat is clearly the Norwegian-born Moa Abdellaoue, who has 6 goals already in league play (no one else on their club has more than one).  Some scout footage:

Looks like he really likes making late vertical runs through the area to meet up with a cross/square-in pass.  Our CBs will have to be alert, obviously, but it’s also incumbent upon the fullbacks to hassle those wings and not let them get off a clean, accurate cross.

Final Notes

- Hannover’s stadium looks nice: described as “the leading open air concert venue in Northern Germany.”  Although, that’s on Wikipedia, and written by someone who refers to the place as “here” … so I’m not sure that’s an objective description.  But, at any rate, it doesn’t have a race-track around the side of the field, so we’re a step ahead of where we were on Tuesday.

- Jerome Boateng sounds enthusiastic in a recent interview, and rejects the idea that he complained about playing right back: “"t's not like I'm going to turn any opportunity to play down. I like it out on the right too, and I'm happy to do it for the team. It's just important we pick up another win.”

- Finally, I’m going to be watching the game on a DVR-delay.  I will set up the Match Day Thread tomorrow, but probably won’t get a chance to watch the game until I get back home Sunday evening.  So nobody e-mail me and tell me what happened.  Thanks for reading.