The games just keep coming. We’ve hardly stopped celebrating victory over Paderborn before we have to travel to Lower Saxony to play Hannover 96. We have to turn our focus to the Hanoverians and this is our LOOK AHEAD at that game.
It was just over a year ago that Kenan Kocak took over as Hannover 96 manager. After 33 games, he’s gained 1.52 points per game. Born in Kayseri in Turkey, he enjoyed a quiet playing career in Germany and Austria before taking on his first managerial position as player-manager at Türkspor Mannheim, before going on to manage local rivals VfR Mannheim. After a cup victory over them, he was poached by Regionalliga South team Waldhof Mannheim. Three successful seasons followed, including a league title, before he signed for SV Sandhausen in 2016. He was sacked after two years there, before saving Hannover from relegation after joining last season. He was repaid for earning their safety with a contract extension until 2023. He is not afraid to make big decisions and big changes. Last summer, high-earning and popular players such as Edgar Prib, Ron-Robert Zieler and Marvin Bakalorz left the club and high achievers like Waldemar Anton made the step up into the Bundesliga.
VfL and Hannover have played each other 44 times, the majority of those coming in the Bundesliga. The record is incredibly close, with Bochum having won 16 of those games, Hannover 17, and 11 ending in a draw. The reverse fixture played out on the last day of last season. Despite our great form after the re-start, VfL lost 2-0, thanks to a Marvin Duksch brace. However, at the Vonovia Ruhrstadion last season, Bochum won 2-1, with Manu Wintzheimer scoring a goal worth rewatching.
THE BALANCE SHEET
Hannover come into this game in relatively poor form, with four losses from their last six games. Their last match was a 1-0 loss in Heidenheim, which has left them in 13th place in the 2. Bundesliga. Of course, as is always the case in the 2. Liga, back to back wins and they could suddenly be at the top of the table. If we are to win, we’ll have to overcome an old friend between the posts. Michael ‘Bruno’ Esser played for Bochum between 2008-15 and rejoined Hannover this summer. Despite their underperformance so far this season, this is undoubtedly a very talented side. Genki Haraguchi pulls the strings in midfield, normally alongside the (suspended) Dominik Kaiser. Marvin Duksch and Henrik Weydandt may only have three goals each so far this season, but they will certainly be looking to add to those this evening.
In their midweek match, VfL missed their chance of going to the top of the table due to a thoroughly deserved 2-0 defeat at Hanover 96. Sulejmani gave the hosts the lead after two minutes, which was doubled by Duksch from a dubious penalty on the hour.
VfL head coach had to replace suspended skipper Anthony Losilla with Raman Chibsah and decided to bring in Vasileios Lampropoulos for Armel Bella Kotchap; goalie Manuel Riemann wore the armband.
After two minutes Hanover managed to play a loose ball down the right wing for Duksch who left the Bochum defence standing before passing into the middle for Sulejmani to slot home easily. VfL Bochum tried to hit back instantly with Gamboa crossing and Blum trying a looping header and narrowly missing the far top corner in what turned out to be VfL's best chance of the match.
The visitors kept losing possession in midfield, thus inviting Hanover to hit them on the break, for example in the 24 minute when Weydandt’s shot from point-blank range was blocked by Riemann or 120 seconds later when Zulejmani found himself in an excellent position but only managed a tame effort.
In between, Lampropoulos was shown a yellow card for his first foul of the game. This was a harsh decision unlike the booking for Gamboa for a tactical foul on Sulejmani.
On 44 minutes, Schindler was clean through but was thwarted by Riemann just like Weydandt on the stroke of half-time when a goal seemed certain.
Thomas Reis tried to turn the tide by introducing Bella-Kotchap for Leitsch in defence and Novothny for Holtmann and Bochum seemed a bit more purposeful in their attacks now. In the 51 minute, Blum was storming down the left flank when he was scythed down by Muroya who was lucky to be shown just a yellow card by referee Zwayer.
And the referee proved himself no friend of the visitors on 60 minutes when he awarded an extremely harsh penalty. Duksch was moving in on goal with him and Lampropoulos pulling each other’s shirt. Riemann had long come off the line and saved the ball when Zwayer decided this was worth a penalty. Duksch made no mistake – 2-0.
VfL Bochum had a header by Tesche from a corner which narrowly missed but Hanover continued creating the better chances. Duksch saw Riemann stick out a foot to block his shot on 70 minutes and had another opportunity from an unmarked position nine minutes later with Ochs missing from the rebound.
In added time, Novothny had already beaten a defender when he was brought down on the edge of the Hanover box but Zwayer was the only person to have seen a handball by the Bochum forward and awarded the free-kick to the hosts in an incident symptomatic of an evening best forgotten.
VfL had suffered another defeat against the club that sentenced us to relegation form Bundesliga 1 ten years ago and inflicted another 2-0 defeat that moved us down the table on the last day of last season.
Our next opponents will be 1.FC Heidenheim, currently just one point behind us in fifth place, and we will need a much better performance at the Vonovia Ruhrstadion on Friday.