Hot-favourites for promotion? Merely the name Hannover 96 instinctively makes you think that that would be the case. But this year the men from Niedersachsen have, like us, stuttered into life this year. They made a coaching change, Kenan Kocak replacing Mirko Slomka. Since then it’s been better for the 96, with The Reds lying three places ahead of VfL. We take a sneak peek at Hannover 96.
The capital of Niedersachsen has everything that an urban Metropole could possibly need: Almost 540,000 inhabitants make the city the 13th biggest in Germany. It also has a city history that goes back centuries (first mentioned in 1150; became a city in 1241; Capital of Welfen in 1636; part of the Kingdom of Germany in 1814), Eco and culture. DAX corporations, travel companies, leading drugstore chains and food manufacturers are based there, as well as bands like the Scorpions, house DJ Mousse T. and ESC winner Lena Meyer-Landrut. An ex-chancellor (Gerhard Schröder) hails from Hannover, as well as ex-president (Christian Wulff). The landmark is the New Town Hall, located near the Maschsee lake.
Hannover has hosted international tournament matches three times: For the 1974 World Cup and the 1988 European Championships, fans made the pilgrimage to the Niedersachsenstadion, which after renovation for the 2006 World Cup is now known as the HDI Arena (until 2013 it was the AWD Arena). The stadium was built in 1954 with an original capacity of 86,656 spectators. This made the Niedersachsenstadion the second largest stadium in Germany after Berlin’s Olympiastadion. At present, the maximum is 49,200 seats, since converting to a sole purpose football stadium.
Hannoversche Sportverein von 1896 e.V. (founded in the same year as Hannoverscher FC 1896) is one of the biggest and strongest sports clubs in Germany with 23,000 members. The club colours of the founding member of the Bundesliga are black-white-green, but the 96's are also called “Die Roten” (The Reds) because of their jersey colour (first used in 1905).
Hannover 96 won the German top division in 1938 and 1954, respectively, and in 1992 - then in the second division- won’t the DFB Pokal. So far, The Reds has played in European competition ten times, first in the Fair Play Cup, later in the European Cup Winners' Cup and finally, as Hannover 96 GmbH & Co. KGaA, in the Europa League (2012 and 2013).
Kenan Kocak has been in charge of the Reds since 15 November. The 38-year-old, born in Kayseri, Turkey, took over the position of head coach from Mirko Slomka, who was sacked soon after his return to managing the side in the summer. Kocak, a long-time SV Sandhausen coach with 80 games of second division experience, has won two games in his three matches to date, including the impressive 3-2 win over Erzgebirge Aue last weekend when Genki Haraguchi scored in the last minute. However, his personal record against VfL is much worse: five games, two draws, three defeats.
HEAD TO HEAD
Hanover are ahead against VfL: In 42 competitive fixtures so far, the men from Lower Saxony have won 16 times, with VfL, on the other hand, just behind on 15 victories. That leaves eleven closely fought draws. The last time both teams met was in the 2. Bundesliga in the 2017/18 season, with the first leg in Bochum ending in a 1-1 draw. The return leg in Hannover ended in an unfortunate 2-1 loss, with many decisions going Hannover’s way. Let’s hope that this isn’t the case tonight, with the aid now of VAR. Our last victory over Hannover was about ten years ago when Christian Fuchs scored a free-kick in Hanover to overturn a 0-2 deficit into a 3-2 win.
STATE OF PLAY SO FAR
The people of Hannover had imagined this season to go quite differently to how it has gone so far; If you asked for the promotion candidates before the season, the recently relegated Bundesliga side was always among the prime candidates to bounce straight back up. Mirko Slomka also brought back what appeared to be an era of coach stability, and Jan Schlaudraff, the sports director, was installed to have the club propelled by an ex-96 hero. But: the success has thus far failed to materialise. In an increasingly empty HDI Arena, the 96 have struggled to perform, with Hannover last in the home form table discounting last week’s win, with only four points. Only the last-minute winner against Aue last week has been a silver lining in a dark cloud. It must be said though that the Reds come into tonight’s game in form; picking up maximum points from their last two games, after also beating St. Pauli away from home two weeks ago.
At last! VfL Bochum 1848 kept all three points at home after a 2-1 win over Hannover 96 thanks to goals from Manuel Wintzheimer and Simon Zoller. There was the usual nail-biting finish, though, with the visitors piling on pressure in the second half and 96’s Duksch scoring what would turn out to be no more than a consolation.
Head coach Thomas Reis made four changes from the defeat to Fürth last week with skipper Anthony Losilla returning from suspension in place of Vitaly Janelt and Simon Lorenz, Simon Zoller and Manuel Wintzheimer coming in for Armel Bella Kotchap, Miloš Pantović and Chung Yong Lee.
6’ VfL have started this game well, showing lots of aggression and positivity.
9’ Soares has a go from distance but the ball flies past the post.
11’ Gamboa carries the ball down the right flank, before his cross is scrambled away for a corner. Ganvoula rises for the ball but Anton heads the ball away.
14’ GOAL! Great link-up with four players involved and Gamboa plays a through ball into the path of Wintzheimer on the edge of the box who curls the ball – helped by a little deflection – into the Hanover net. Bochum’s first goal this season in front of the Westkurve!
20’ Bochum are relentless here, going for the second goal.
23‘ Two corner-kicks in quick succession force goalkeeper Zieler to make a save, before Ganvoula misses off a good cross from Blum. Blau-Weißen pressure is excellent!
28’ GOAL! Blum plays a corner short to Losilla who has a cross deflected to Zoller on the edge of the box. Zolli controls the ball before volleying it through a pack of players into the bottom left corner. A deserved two goal lead!
30’ Zoller is shown a yellow card for a tactical foul on Maina.
32‘ Blum skips past Korb and sets up Wintzheimer –Zieler gets a foot to it though and clears for a corner.
35’ A yellow card for Lorenz after a foul on Weydandt.
37’ Hannover with their first real scoring opportunity: Riemann does well to parry Bakalorz’s attempt away.
41’ Once again, a VfL shot from distance but Zieler dives low and saves it.
HALF-TIME: VfL Bochum 1848 2-0 Hannover 96
46’ Hannover seem determined to change the state of play by introducing attacking options Ducksch and Stendera for Muslija and ex-Bochumer Ostrzolek.
51’ VfL on the counter with Wintzheimer driving the ball forward through the centre and finding Losilla. “Toto” shoots from 22 yards, but Zieler saves well.
52’ Korb shoots goalwards from an acute angle but Riemann is equal to it, tipping it over the bar.
63’ Head coach Reis takes off Wintzheimer, putting Lee on to try and introduce some extra stability in midfield.
65’ Goal for the guests. Soares blocks a shot by Stendera but only as far as Ducksch who hits a shot first time past Riemann into the far corner.
68’ Soares, who looks to have picked up a knock, makes way for Janelt.
70’ It’s getting frantic with the visitors throwing the kitchen sink in search of an equaliser.
73’ Ducksch is yellow carded for a dive in the Bochum penalty area.
75‘ A decent Bochum counter attack at last finds Lee but he can’t beat Zieler.
79‘ That could and should have killed off the match! Blum keeps his calm outside the Hannover box and finds Ganvoula but the latter fluffs his shot up and Zieler saves it easily.
80‘ Another chance for the visitors but Weydandt misses narrowly.
83‘ Hannover’s final roll of the dice- Hansson on for Maina.
84’ VfL bring on Weilandt in place of Zoller.
85’ Losilla shoots on the turn but the ball sails over the bar.
86’ Ducksch seemed destined to equalise, but Riemann makes a fantastic flying save.
87’ Korb commits a tactical foul on Blum for a yellow card.
The hard-fought win propels VfL Bochum to 20 points from 17 matches and past Hannover 96 courtesy of a better goal difference.
Next Sunday, Vonovia Ruhrstadion will play host to our last match of the year against SSV Jahn Regensburg (1:30 pm kick-off CET) for a final chance to climb up the league table before the winter break.