Munich - After their midweek European escapades in Valencia and against FC Twente respectively, it's back to the Bundesliga for FC Bayern Munich and Hannover 96 at the Allianz Arena on Saturday afternoon.
History against Hannover
The table-topping hosts will take to the pitch having had two extra days to recover from their UEFA Champions League trip to Spain, although on the other hand Hannover only had to travel as far as their own stadium for Thursday's goalless draw with the Dutch outfit. Both sides at any rate have good cause to go into this one on an upbeat note, finding themselves in pole position with one game to go in their respective continental sections.
That said, Manuel Neuer admitted to having "mixed feelings" in the wake of the 1-1 draw at ten-man Valencia, as "there was more in it for us". The FC Bayern custodian was far from alone in his assessment, with attacking midfielder Thomas Müller, for one, agreeing that "it's annoying not to have won. This isn't a game we have any cause to be celebrating".
In that spirit, the men from Munich are doubly keen to get back to winning ways against opponents who have traditionally struggled in this fixture, to put it mildly. In fact, of their 23 previous Bundesliga assignments at Bayern, Hannover have won precisely one - and lost no fewer than 20. Their sole success in the record champions' back yard came in November 2006, courtesy of a goal from Szabolcs Huszti.
Huszti off the boil, Ya Konan out
The Hungarian midfielder is of course back on board with Reds this season - and in its early weeks was one of the league's stand-out performers, chipping in with three goals and seven assists. That said, Huszti has not directly contributed to a Hannover goal since Matchday 5 and as it stands, he may not even get a starting slot in this one.
One way or another, it promises to be an entertaining afternoon, with the league top scorers Bayern (33 goals) facing the team with the joint third-highest tally (25). 96ers coach Mirko Slomka will however have to do without Didier Ya Konan in the forward department, after the Ivorian international was subbed off with a badly bruised pelvis against Twente. Jan Schlaudraff and Artur Sobiech are the most likely starting pair up front, with Mohammed Abdellaoue also waiting in the wings.
Heynckes under no illusions
At the pre-match press conference on Friday, Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes said he expects his charges to "perform with more aggression, use the flanks more and switch the play at speed", in the wake of two rather lacklustre 1-1 draws in the past week, the first of them at regional rivals Nuremberg. As to all talk of Bayern walking away with the title - they currently have an eight-point lead over second-place Schalke 04 - the veteran Heynckes countered:, "It's been clear to me all along that winning the Bundesliga won't be a stroll in the park."
Bayern: Neuer - Lahm, Dante, Boateng, Alaba - Martinez, Schweinsteiger - Müller, Kroos, Ribery - Mandzukic
Hannover: Zieler - Cherundolo, Eggimann, Haggui, Pander - da Silva Pinto, C. Schulz - Stindl, Schmiedebach - Schlaudraff, Sobiech