Hanover - Hannover 96, one of four clubs representing the Bundesliga in this season's UEFA Europa League, kick off their Group L campaign with a trip to Dutch side FC Twente on Thursday evening (kick-off 21:05 CET).

After a phenomenal start to the season, Mirko Slomka's team make the short trip to the Netherlands with confidence understandably brimming. They go into this game with seven points from nine on the board in the league, including two impressive derby victories against VfL Wolfsburg and SV Werder Bremen.

Love affair rekindled


Despite this only being Hannover's second campaign in Europe in the space of 20 years, the Reds have struck up a strangely romantic connection with the competition. Last season they defied all the odds to make it past a difficult group and go as far as the last eight, where they were eventually beaten by a Falcao-inspired Atlético Madrid, who would eventually go on to win the trophy.

It seems that from the moment the final whistle sounded at the Ramon-Sanchez Pizjuan stadium in August 2011 to seal the Reds' play-off victory over the highly fancied Sevilla FC, a wave of euphoria has settled over the team, and the city. That wave is still yet to dissipate and indeed even seems to grow when Hannover gear up for a European clash.

In qualifying for the group stages this term, the Reds have given their fans a real treat. Ties against St Patrick's Athletic and Slask Wroclaw yielded 13 goals and some blistering performances, particularly from winger Szabolcs Huszti, a revelation since his return to the club from Zenit St Petersburg and midfielder Leon Andreasen, sensationally back to fitness following 28 months out injured. The Lower Saxons certainly have the bit between their teeth as they attempt to better last season's performance in reaching the quarter-finals.


Possible line-ups:

FC Twente:Mihaylov - Rosales, Douglas, Bjelland, Schilder - Tadic, Brama, Janssen, Fer - Chadli, Bulykin

Hannover 96: Zieler - Cherundolo, Eggimann, Haggui, Rausch - Stindl, Pinto, Andreasen, Huszti - Schlaudraff, Sobiech