Munich - Hannover 96 take on Irish side St. Patrick's Athletic in the second leg of the third qualifying round of the UEFA Europa League this evening and after returning from Dublin with a 3-0 win in the bag last week, the Reds are well on course to book their place in the final play-off round.
Coach Mirko Slomka was fairly satisfied with how his players performed in their first competitive outing of the season. Christian Pander and Didier Ya Konan, two players who figured prominently in Hannover's run to the quarter-finals of this competition last season, both found the net after Leon Andreasen had scored a screamer to crown his comeback following no less than 28 months on the sidelines.
The club are now looking to produce a good performance in their first game on home soil this season. "We had some great nights at home last season. Now we're playing in the evening again in a floodlit stadium", said an excited Lars Stindl. The midfielder missed parts of the 2011/12 campaign due to injury but is fighting fit this time around.
Even with a 3-0 advantage, Hannover's players will not be taking this game lightly. "It's our first competitive game at home this season and that means it has to be taken seriously, no matter who we're playing", Stindl went on to warn. An impressive victory to add to last week's will be the perfect preparation for the club going into the domestic season a week on Friday.
The last time St Patrick's Athletic played in Germany was in a play-off 2nd leg away at Hertha BSC Berlin at the beginning of the 2008/09 season. On that occasion, they were beaten 2-0. The odds are well and truly stacked against them on Thursday evening after their 3-0 reverse in Dublin last week.
Last term, Hannover didn't lose in the AWD Arena until the quarter-final stage of the Europa League, while in the Bundesliga they went the entire season unbeaten, defeating the likes of FC bayern München and Borussia Dortmund along the way. The Hannover supporters will turn out on Thursday in the full expectation of seeing see their side finish the job and book their place in the play-off draw on Friday.
Hannover: Zieler - Cherundolo, Haggui, Schulz, Pander - Andreasen, Stindl - Nikci, Huszti - Schlaudraff, Ya Konan
St. Patrick's: Clarke - O'Brien, Kenna, Browne, Bermingham - Chambers - Forrester, Bolger, Russell, O'Connor - Fagan