One final push!

This is the motto of Hannover 96 ahead of their cup game against Borussia Dortmund. In their 53rd competitive fixture this calendar year, the Reds are determined to give their all one last time so as to reach the next round.

Visitors to the double-winners

Hannover 96’s final match of 2012 sees them play away from home in the last 16 of the German Cup against Borussia Dortmund at 20.30 CET on Wednesday. The league champions of the past two seasons and the current holders of the German Cup will no doubt be a difficult test for 96-manager Mirko Slomka’s team. Having dominated the Bundesliga for the previous two campaigns and pushing the otherwise dominant Bayern off their German footballing throne, Dortmund have also been able to demonstrate their European prowess this season. Klopp’s side came out of their group of death as winners, remaining undefeated against the league champions of their respective countries Real Madrid, Manchester City and Ajax. The eight-time league winners have not always been able to repeat their impressive Champions League performances domestically though. Jürgen Klopp’s team have missed out on points too many times. Some of their most sobering results have been their past two home league matches, falling to a 3-2 defeat against VfL Wolfsburg after drawing 1-1 with Fortuna Düsseldorf. Nevertheless, Dortmund rounded off the first half of their campaign impressively, securing a 3-1 away win against TSG 1899 Hoffenheim on the final matchday. The German champions go into the winter break in third position in the table, sitting twelve points behind leaders Bayern München.

Klopp has plenty to choose from

Dortmund cleared their first two hurdles in the cup comfortably, beating fourth division outfit
FC Oberneuland 3-0 in Round 1, before brushing second division team VfR Aalen aside with a 4-1 victory in the second round. Dortmund manager will be able to call upon almost his entire squad when it comes to their last 16 clash with Hannover 96 on Wednesday. Only defensive players Lars Bender, Chris Löwe (both groin) and Patrick Owomoyela (fitness training) are set to miss out on the 47th competitive game for Dortmund this season. On the other hand, recently injured Sebastian Kehl (knee) and Marcel Schmelzer (sinusitis) are back in the side that has scored 35 goals so far in the Bundesliga, making them the second strongest attacking team behind Bayern (44 goals). The Reds have certainly seen these attacking capabilities in their recent visits to the Signal Iduna Park. 96 failed to take any points from their last three away trips there (3-1, 4-1, 4-1).

One of the highlights of season so far: Diouf’s late equaliser against Dortmund in the 1-1 draw

"There’s always a chance"

“A home draw against Dortmund would have been nicer because we’ve played so well against them at home. Dortmund are in exceptional condition having just won again, this time 3-1 away against Hoffenheim”, said a knowledgeable Mirko Slomka about the strengths of the hosts, whilst noting this seasons 1-1 draw and last year’s 2-1 home win. The Reds cannot and will not hide. The cup has both its own magic and its own rules. 96 experienced that after their first round 6-1 win against FC Nöttingen and then a real physical test in their 5-4 penalty shoot out victory over Dynamo Dresden in the following round. “There’s always a chance to fashion something out, maybe even to take an early lead. In their games against Düsseldorf and Wolfsburg, they’ve not quite hit top form and that tells us that there’s always a chance. We must take the chances when they arrive and work hard to make them count”, stated Slomka clearly.

Terrestrial television coverage

Furthermore, Slomka is convinced that his men, in their 53rd competitive game of the year – six more than Dortmund – will give everything. “
I think that the fact the games are being shown live on television means that everyone wants to play well. I am confident that we can summon enough energy for this match”, the 45-year-old said about the anticipation ahead of the encounter. Going into this special cup game, Hannover continue to be without Leon Andreasen (cruciate ligament tear), Lars Stindl (syndesmosis ligament operation) and Felipe (hip operation). The inclusion of Mame Diouf and Jan Schlaudraff remains questionable. Aside from that though, Slomka has a fully fit squad to choose from. That includes 96-captain Steven Cherundolo, who spoke of changing focus straight away after their 2-1 defeat to Düsseldorf: “We can get over games quickly and that’s something that has worked for us and is one of our strong points. We must go into the game with a different mindset on Wednesday. It will be a real cup battle.”

Took Hannover through in their last German Cup game in Dortmund:
Vahid Hashemian

Flawless cup statistics – no gifts for Dortmund

The Reds’ fans are hopeful as a result of the impressive statistics, a set that are of yet without blemish. In the previous four cup encounters between Borussia Dortmund and Hannover 96, the Reds have won every single match. 96 even won three of those in Dortmund, the last of which came on October 24th 2006 when Vahid Hashemian struck the winner in a 1-0 win. The statistics are the last port of call when it comes to motivation for Slomka’s men, who on Wednesday 19th December – the same day of Dortmund’s founding – cannot afford to send any early gifts to the defending cup champions.

The motto couldn’t be any clearer: “One final push in this successful year of 2012!”


Potential line-ups:

Borussia Dortmund:
 Weidenfeller– Piszczek, Subotic, Hummels, Blaszczykowski (Schmelzer) - Gündogan - Leitner (Kehl), Großkreutz - Reus, Götze - Lewandowski 

Hannover 96:
 Zieler – Cherundolo , Eggimann, Schulz, Rausch– Schmiedebach, da Silva Pinto - Ya Konan, Huszti – Abdellaoue, Sobiech

 Dr. Felix Brych (München)