Stevens ahead of Hannover game: "The players are extremely willing"

On Saturday at 15:30 CET, Hoffenheim play their final home game of 2015 when they face Hannover 96 at the WIRSOL Rhein-Neckar-Arena. Huub Stevens spoke to about his side's final chance this year to pick up three points at home.

Huub Stevens on…

...the opponents:

Hannover play a compact game, similarly to Ingolstadt, but they play differently in attack. They don't play as many long balls. Instead, they're a team who play football and they have the quality for it. I watched their last game on television against Schalke, on Friday evening before our game in Ingolstadt. news:

We're missing a few players – Kevin Kurányi is out with back problems and Jens Grahl has an elbow injury. Eduardo Vargas and Steven Zuber are also doubts. Edu is feeling better after his muscle problems, but we can't say yet whether he’s fit enough or not. Steven went down in training on Wednesday and has picked up a knock. He has some pain in his ankle and couldn't train with the team on Thursday.

...the current situation:

We worked on a lot in training during the week. We made concentrated steps, but we enjoyed ourselves too. Fun and confidence are very important. If I do a finishing exercise with two attackers and six defenders, the strikers won't gain any confidence from it, but the defenders will. These are the things you have to deal with as a manager.

The players are extremely willing. A lot of players come to me to ask if they can take on more work. It's nice that they want to develop and that they try to make it happen. I don't like to restrict my team, but sometimes it can become too much. If a player does something extra two days before a game, there's not enough time to recover. They will give everything on the pitch on Saturday, too. When someone gives their all, you can't complain.

Previous encounters:

TSG's record against Hannover gives reason for optimism on Saturday. There have been 14 Bundesliga meetings between the sides so far, and Hoffenheim have taken 29 of a possible 42 points with nine wins, two draws and three losses. TSG have won their last four in a row against Hannover. In chronological order: 4-1, 3-1, 4-3, 2-1…

Opponents' form:

Michael Frontzeck's team got their first win of the season on matchday 8. They've become somewhat more stable recently and have started to pick up some points, recording three wins and four losses in their last seven games. However, these successes haven't had much of an effect on their league position, hovering between 14th and 15th place since matchday 8. A win for TSG would reduce the gap to Hannover to just one point.

Key battle:

Hannover's biggest strength is to do with their heads, but it has nothing to do with mentality. They've managed four headed goals this season, and what’s more impressive is the fact that Frontzeck's side win over 53% of their aerial duels. For TSG, it'll be a case of keeping the ball on the floor, or failing that, challenging hard in the air.


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