One of the Bundesliga’s most traditional and passionate encounters hardly needs added significance, but this season’s instalment comes at a vital time for two clubs currently struggling. The respective sets of fans would likely agree with Bremen coach Robin Dutt’s assessment that, “both sides come into the game in the same position, and there are no advantages”.
'Hunting a win'
It’s not exactly the “same position”, as Bremen lie 13th, and Hannover eleventh, but both sides have laboured in recent weeks. The former haven’t won since Matchday 6 against the Bundesliga’s other northern giant Hamburger SV, and most recently were run ragged in a 3-0 defeat by VfL Wolfsburg. Despite that defeat, Dutt insisted, “we’re not losing focus and we’ll be hunting a win on Sunday”.
Their home form however, does not bode as positively. The men in green have won once on their own turf in four games, which somewhat contradicts their coach’s assertion that “there’s hardly any difference between home and away fixtures”. There will be for this one, as a sold-out Weserstadion will be baying to see their side pick up their first home win since Matchday 2, against a side they haven't lost at home to since March 2003.
Characterised by absentees
It is a derby, however, which will be characterised by those absent. Bremen have a dilemma up front as both Franco di Santo and Nils Petersen are unavailable due to injury. However, Dutt noted that “we’ve got a plan in mind and have been working on some tactics. There’ll maybe be a bit of positional rotation”. Youngster Martin Kobylanski could start, but Sebastian Prödl and Philipp Bargfrede miss out.
Were it possible, Hannover coach Mirko Slomka comes into the game in an even worse position in terms of personnel. Centre-half Marcelo and target-man Mame Diouf are both serving suspensions after dismissals in last week’s 4-1 home defeat by 1899 Hoffenheim, while Didier Ya Konan, Steve Cherundolo and Christian Pander are all injured..
'Nothing but a win'
Dutt’s belief that both sides come into this derby in the same position was supported by the Reds’ home implosion to Hoffenheim last weekend. Hannover themselves haven’t won since Matchday 6 and have developed a worrying trend of being unable to score away from home. They haven’t hit the net in any of their four away fixtures this season; Slomka’s men must confront the fact that they possess the worst away record in the Bundesliga.
Slomka, who is also presiding over the worst run since the beginning of his tenure in 2010, refused to let his side’s poor form affect his target for the derby, however. “We’re completely focused on Bremen and our aim is nothing but a win." Curiously enough, following the Hoffenheim loss, Slomka had criticised his players for being "too passionate”, but that is one thing you can guarantee won’t be missing from this one.
SV Werder Bremen: Mielitz - Fritz, Lukimya, Caldirola, Garcia - F. Kroos, Makiadi - Elia, Hunt, Junuzovic - Kobylanski
Hannover 96: Zieler - H. Sakai, Sane, C. Schulz, Pocognoli - Andreasen, Hoffmann - Stindl, Prib, Huszti - A. Sobiech
Check out this hilarious incident from Werder Bremen's last win on Matchday 6 thanks to the official Bundesliga YouTube channel: