Away to Hannover: playing 'attractively and efficiently'

On Friday evening, current champions Borussia Dortmund will get the 49th Bundesliga season underway, playing at home to veteran top-league competitors Hamburger SV. For 1899 Hoffenheim, the campaign starts against Hannover 96 (Saturday, 3.30 pm, AWD Arena).

When it comes to taking 3 points, Hoffenheim manager Holger Stanislawski expects his team to be 'solid, well-organised and good on the break.' Indeed, at his press conference on Thursday afternoon, 'Stani' was relaxed and full of anticipation. "It's time to get back into regular match mode and start competing with the other teams."

Not yet 100%

"You don't win the league if you win the first three matches, nor do you get relegated if you lose them," emphasises Stanislawski. "The season is played out over 34 matches; it's a marathon, not a sprint." Efficiency is the top priority, knowing that his team isn't yet 100% ready, a problem which other teams don't have.

96 are favourites

The manager and the captain, Andreas Beck, consider their opponents to be the favourites, having finished in fourth place in the league last season. Hoffenheim will go to Hannover as underdogs. But they will also be confident, since they don't need to force the issue. "Now we have more variation in our own game," says Beck.

Minimal change

Neither team has made excessive changes to its squad over the summer. Hoffenheim have added Sven Schipplock, Fabian Johnson, Knowledge Musona and keeper Koen Casteels, while a noteworthy addition to Hannover's squad has been Artur Sobiech from Polonia Warsaw. The Pole should provide the required depth for a squad competing in three competitions. Christian Pander was a free transfer from FC Schalke 04, and Norway's Henning Hauger joined from Stabaek IF.

The usual absentees

Stanislawski can't choose from a full squad. Vedad Ibisevic recently suffered multiple muscle tearing in training, and joined Andreas Ibertsberger and Gylfi Sigurdsson (knee), Matthias Jaissle (achilles tendon), Boris Vukcevic (shin), and Manuel Gulde (pelvis) on the injury list. The team will be named on Friday, but the players won't find out until shortly before kick-off. New signing Knowledge Musona won't be involved this weekend. Instead, the manager wants to give him the necessary time to integrate himself into the team.

The new season finally gets underway on Saturday, and the points should be going to Hoffenheim. The team from the Kraichgau has four wins, one draw and one loss against Hannover in the last six matches, and will travel to Lower Saxony with confidence.

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