Local rivals VfL Wolfsburg and Hannover 96 go head-to-head in the Bundesliga this Sunday
Local rivals VfL Wolfsburg and Hannover 96 go head-to-head in the Bundesliga this Sunday

Lower Saxon bragging rights up for grabs

Munich - Local rivals VfL Wolfsburg welcome a Hannover 96 side with similar ambitions of European qualification this season in Sunday's early Bundesliga match (kick-off 15:30 CET).

Fresh blood

Wolfsburg head coach Felix Magath has been as active as ever in the transfer market this summer, signing no fewer than eight new players as he bids to go one better than last term's eighth-place finish.

The fresh blood seems to have done the trick so far, as Magath's team survived a late penalty miss to sneak a last-gasp win at VfB Stuttgart on Matchday 1, with new recruit Bas Dost netting the winning goal. Petr Jiracek and Ashkan Dejagah have departed the club, but now that Brazilian midfield maestro Diego is back in the first-team fold, Wolfsburg are many people's tip to finish within the top six come May.

Hannover began the campaign with the type of result that has defined them under manager Slomka. Despite being dominated by FC Schalke 04 last week, they rallied to claim a 2-2 draw, preserving a 19-game unbeaten run at home in the league. They also have several new faces who have hit the ground running, such as Adrian Nikci, scorer of the late equaliser against Schalke.

Away-day difficulties

Away from home the 96ers have tended to struggle, claiming just eleven points on the road last season. Yet after sealing their place in the UEFA Europa League group stages in midweek, spirits will be high in the Reds' camp going into this game.

Magath's team have the better record by a distance in this match-up, with 14 wins from 26 matches, including four in the last six in the league. The Wolves also won this fixture last season by a hearty 4-1 scoreline.

Solid record

The coach himself also enjoys playing against Hannover, having overseen thirteen wins in 19 games in his managerial career. It was Slomka's Reds, however, who won the last meeting between the teams in May, a result that helped secured them European football at Wolfsburg's expense.

Possible line-ups:

Wolfsburg: Benaglio - Fagner, Naldo, Pogatetz, Rodriguez - Knoche, M. Schäfer - Diego - Vieirinha, Dost, Olic

Hannover: Zieler - Cherundolo, Felipe, Eggimann, Pander - Andreasen, da Silva Pinto - Stindl, Schmiedebach - Schlaudraff, Abdellaoue

Bernie Reeves