“Continue performing like against Leipzig”

Following the 4-0 home win against RB Leipzig on the 14th Bundesliga matchday, TSG face newly-promoted side Hannover 96 this weekend. Andre Breitenreiter’s team currently have 19 points and are in tenth position in the table, but have recently gone through a rough patch. Julian Nagelsmann and preview the weekend’s away game.

Julian Nagelsmann on…

… the opponent:

“Concerning their basic shape, Hannover are very unpredictable. What they'll do with the ball and their defence are, however, foreseeable. They deploy a man-orientated defensive system and defend with a lot of passion. They are also very dangerous from set-pieces – this is how they scored their last seven goals. It doesn’t matter who plays up front for them, they play with incredible pace. The encounter on Sunday will be very different to the one against Leipzig. It’s highly likely we will have the ball for longer periods. Hannover also defend very aggressively and with a lot of men, but not as ruthlessly as Ralph Hasenhüttl’s team.”

… the personnel:

“Sandro Wagner has trained over the last couple of days, but we will have to wait and see how he is. He still has pains in his adductors.

… the sporting situation I:

“We trained with two training groups this week – it was tiring. You spend a lot of time on the pitch, there are a lot of discussions: the follow-up from Leipzig, preparations for Razgrad, and at the same time we were thinking about the Hannover game. It's not easy to do all of that, because it seems like Hannover have 48 different systems they can play. Offensively and defensively, they switch things up constantly. It’s hard to prepare for. Hopefully I won't need two training groups for a while.” (laughs)

… the sporting situation II:

“Ideally, we want to get nine points from now until the winter break, but we know how hard that’ll be. Last year, we had 31 points at the end of the first half of the campaign, at the moment we’re on 23. We want to reach the marker that we set last year. For me personally, however, the most important thing is to play like we did against Leipzig. Whether that will always be enough for a win, is another matter. The way we performed was extraordinary. If things continue like that, we’ll certainly get a few more points, but our opponents will play their part too and all three are very good.”

Previous encounters

The previous encounter between the two teams was on the 33rd matchday of the 2015/16 season, TSG lost 1-0 that day on home soil. Nevertheless, Hoffenheim fans will have fond memories of that match, as Nagelsmann’s men secured first-division survival, which had seemed impossible. It was one of only a handful of TSG losses against Hannover 96. From 16 meetings in the Bundesliga, TSG have won ten, lost four and there have been two draws.

The opponent’s form

On the 10th matchday, Hannover triumphed 4-2 over Borussia Dortmund in front of their home fans. The euphoria amongst their supporters was clear to see and their joy was not without merit – they had collected 18 points from ten games and were occupying fourth place in the league. After this performance, however, things have been going steadily downhill despite some good performances. 96 have only taken a single point in their last four games, but their demanding schedule can take some of the blame for that. They have had to travel to Leipzig, Bremen and Munich in that period, with their only home game being against VfB Stuttgart.

The key duel

If TSG want to take three points from the game in Hannover, they will have to get past Pirmin Schwegler. The defensive midfielder knows his former teammates Kerem Demirbay and Nadiem Amiri very well and will try to put the breaks on Hoffenheim’s attacking play. Therefore, the striker’s ability to create will be important in this encounter, particularly as TSG are expecting to see a lot more of the ball in comparison to last weekend’s game against Leipzig.

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