Hanover - Sunday’s Matchday 14 action begins in Lower Saxony, where Hannover 96 host Eintracht Frankfurt in the HDI Arena (kick-off 15.30 CET).
Mirko Slomka’s Hannover team are, as the head coach admitted in his pre-match press conference, in the midst of a negative run of results. "There have been one or two situations like this since I’ve been here but this is tough," admitted the 46-year-old.
That is putting it lightly, as Hannover are currently . Nevertheless, Slomka is confident that, on home soil, their fortunes will turn this weekend. "We've worked hard in training this week, had lots of conversations with the players and are determined to win this game. We have a good record at home and we want the fans to know that the players will be doing everything they can to turn this run around."
Striker stated this week that "the coach’s approach hasn’t changed," a comment which pleased Slomka. "I need to be someone the players can rely on, and so I think what he meant was that we all need to work together. It’s good for the team that he said that because it creates an atmosphere of hard work, that we all need, especially him as a striker in need of a goal," said the former FC Schalke 04 coach, referring to Diouf's patchy form of just two league strikes all season.
Frankfurt on a high
Slomka compared the situation to last season, when the Reds ended the Hinrunde with eight defeats and 23 points. "We have seven defeats so far this season, so the target of 20 points that we’ve set ourselves is a good one." Frankfurt, for their part, come into the game having just qualified for the UEFA Europa League knockout stage, and confidence in the camp will high. However, despite their continental success, the Eagles' domestic form has left much to be desired; they are without a win since Matchday 5 and are nursing three defeats in the last four.
On Matchday 13, Frankfurt dropped two points by sloppily conceding a late equaliser in the 3-3 draw with FC Schalke 04, and coach Armin Veh will be hoping for a more concentrated defensive display in Hanover, as well as to build on the midweek success against Girondins de Bordeaux. "The support we had in Bordeaux was fantastic, like nothing I’ve ever experienced. Psychologically, it was important for us to rediscover the experience of keeping a clean sheet."
Barnetta in form
The visitors are still without Alex Meier due to injury, meaning their front line will be led by their leading scorer in the Bundesliga, Vaclav Kadlec. The Czech international is in search of his fifth goal of the season, and with Tranquillo Barnetta in form, he will be feeling confident of dong so.
Swiss international Barnetta, returning to the club that gave him his debut in the Bundesliga way back in the 2004/05 season, has two assists in his last two appearances and has started the last nine matches. The Reds' defence could be set for a busy afternoon indeed.
Hannover: Zieler - Sakai, Marcelo, Schulz, Pocognoli - Andreasen, Hoffmann - Stindl, Prib, Huszti - Diouf
Frankfurt: Trapp - Jung, Zambrano, Russ, Ozcipka - Rode, Schwegler, Flum, Barnetta - Joselu, Kadlec