The dominance of FC Bayern München has taken the world by storm, following up treble season with an incredible league record, a fifth consecutive trip to the DFB-Pokal semifinal, and .
The records and monetizations of this incredible streak are prevalent: 46 matches unbeaten in the Bundesliga, 9 consecutive Champions League victories, etc. Well, here is another one.
In the 10 years before the treble season, FC Bayern have swept the league and cup games of six Bundesliga teams: 1. FC Kaiserslautern, Hamburger SV, SC Freiburg, Eintracht Frankfurt, and VfB Stuttgart twice. The Rekordmeisters have the chance to sweep six teams in just the past two seasons.
One of these opponents could be Hannover 96, a club in which the Stern des Südens played twice in September. On the conquest of the unbeaten season, the 96ern will be the first that FC Bayern could sweep.
Maybe just a silly statistic, but with all the success that the Bavarian giants have achieved, the club is still rewriting the German record books.
The Match (53rd meeting)
Location: HDI-Arena, Hannover, Germany
Head: Knut Kircher
FC Bayern: 18 W, 9 D, 4 L (41 YC, 1 RC)
Assistants: Robert Kempter, Thorsten Schiffner
Fourth Official: Christian Gittelmann
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Bundesliga: 32 W, 8 D, 9 L
DFB Pokal: 3 W, 0 L
1. Gerhard "Gerd" Müller, FCB – 21
2. Fanz Roth, FCB – 9
3. Mario Gómez, FCB – 8
4. Claudio Pizarro, FCB – 6
5. Thomas Müller, FCB; Hans Siemensmeyer, H96; Willi Reimann, H96 – 5
Biggest Victory: 7-0 (April 17, 2010, Munich, Germany)
Biggest Defeat: 1-3 (September 22, 1973, Hannover, Germany; March 5, 2011, Hannover, Germany)
He has come off the bench twice, he at out at midweek, so is it time for Bastian Schweinsteiger to come out of the tunnel with his mates?
Pep Guardiola is a distinct argument for and against putting his vice captain on the pitch. Schweinsteiger has eight days of rest considering the Sunday clash, and the opponent might warrant a test of his fitness. The others side of the coin is the Javier Martínez Arsenal experience, a struggle to make it through the 90 minutes at the Emirates.
Additionally, Guardiola would be hard pressed to bench Toni Kroos after completing 152 passes, 21 of 22 long balls, and a cannon ball to open the scoring against the Gunners. With Kroos does have four league yellow cards, so perhaps the gaffer might save his services for next week's showcase against FC Schalke 04. If Schweinsteiger were to start, Thiago or Rafinha would likely have to ride the bench, both of whom Guardiola has sat in the past two games.
Then there is Thomas Müller, a consistent good soldier who sat the last two Wednesday matches. He scored two goals as a starter in the DFB Pokal 2nd round, and started in behind Mario Mandžukić in the league match two weeks earlier. Logic would dictate it is Arjen Robben's turn to sit, for he has started the last four games while Mario Götze, Mandžukić, and Müller have sat during that time.
The other thing to consider is how good Hannover 96 is in the air. Mandžukić, as good of a finisher he is, is not one of the best strikers in the air – 16th among forwards in won areal duels per match (whoscored.com). That being said, Mandzukic won four areal duels against Hannover 96 in September.
With Franck Ribéry (glut) and Xherdan Shaqiri (thigh) are both out with injury, Götze will once again man the right flank, giving him a chance at retribution for his midweek mediocrity.
FC Bayern have two weeks without a match during the week, so Guardiola's tinkering can crank back up to full steam.
Projected Lineup (4-1-4-1)
Mario Götze – Thiago Alcântara – Toni Kroos – Thomas Müller
David Alaba – Dante – Jérôme Boateng – Rafinha
Bench: Tom Starke, Diego Contento, Daniel van Buyten, Javier Martínez, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Arjen Robben, Claudio Pizarro
Hannover 96 has started the Rückrunde relative strong given the fixtures presented to them. It has collected six points from a possible 12 with three matches on the road and three matches against upper table opponents.
What Tyfun Korkut has put together in the wake of Mirko Slomka's reign is a tactically sound side to break down, and now had two key additions, Artjoms Rudņevs and František Rajtoral, that could aide one final push for a spot in Europe.
The side that traveled to Munich five months ago is largely the same, although the return of Mame Diouf is a huge piece up front for Korkut's side. Didier Ya Konan's absence takes away some pace, but his contributions might not be missed for a side that scores the second least amount of goals from open play.
The left wing responsibility has rotated between Edgar Prib and Leonardo Bittencourt, with Prib providing the power and the size and Bittencourt providing the speed and the elusiveness. With FC Bayern being such right-heavy attacking team, Prib might be able to secure the right flank in ways that Bittencourt will not.
The defense is solid in the defensive zone except when turnovers in the midfield lead to chances. Very good in the air, the trio of Marcelo, Christian Schulz, and Salif Sané are not the best at recoveries, so the lack of a real midfield buffer has been a trouble at times. The back has the tendancy to be undisciplined, as well as giving up free kicks in compromising positions.
This fixture comes smack dab in the middle of an extended tough stretch of matches. With Bittencourt, Prib, Marcelo, and Lars Stindl facing yellow card suspensions, Korkut could either fire everything or save them for more winnable matches.
Projected Lineup (4-4-2)
Artjoms Rudņevs – Mame Diouf
Edgar Prib – Manuel Schmiedebach – Lars Stindl – Szabolcs Huszti
Sebastian Pocognoli – Christian Schulz – Marcelo – František Rajtoral
Ron Robert Zieler
Bench: Markus Miller, Christopher Avevor, Salif Sané, Leon Andreasen, Tim Dierßen, Leonardo Bittencourt, Jan Schlaudraff, Artur Sobiech
Facing a "deep 6" 4-4-2, FC Bayern have shown mixed results. It dominated Borussia Mönchengladbach, flooding the midfield and cutting off the supply to die Fohlen's forwards, and struggled against relentless pressure from VfB Stuttgart, frequently turning the ball over in the midfield. Hannover 96 is a team with a slow build-up and leaves a lot of chances on the field, although its areal presence should not be trifled with.
Projected Score: Hannover 96 1-3 FC Bayern München