Braunschweig and Hannover meet on Sunday in a derby encounter that could have huge implications at the foot of the table
Braunschweig and Hannover meet on Sunday in a derby encounter that could have huge implications at the foot of the table

More than just a derby for Braunschweig and Hannover

Braunschweig - Travel-sick Hannover 96 make the short trip to Eintracht Braunschweig for a Lower Saxony derby with a difference on Sunday afternoon (kick-off 13:30 GMT/ 15:30 CEST).

'Very special'

Meetings between the two regional foes need no introduction, but with Braunschweig rooted to the foot of the table and Hannover far from safe, Matchday 29's edition promises to deliver that added bit of spice to an already fervent fixture laced with subplots by the bucketload.

"All week we've been preparing ourselves for the type of hell-for-leather game that a derby can often be," Braunschweig head coach Torsten Lieberknecht told journalists at Friday's customary pre-match press conference. "The lads are well aware of what’s at stake in this match. We're really looking forward to a football game that carries that extra bit of emotion and has a very special background. We also want to make use of our improved home form and finish the game with all three points."

Unbeaten in their last four matches at the Eintracht Stadion, the Lions are making a real fist of the relegation battle that's beginning to unravel at the foot of the table. Indeed, although rock-bottom since Matchday 3, Braunschweig have lost just twice in their last eight Bundesliga outings to keep themselves within a hair's breadth of their floundering peers and could even move to within a point of the relegation play-off position with victory in the derby, depending on results elsewhere.

'Perfect timing'

"The team have no problems at all dealing with extreme situations," Lieberknecht explained. "We have no way of influencing how the other teams play, so we only focus on our own game. If we were then to overtake them on the final day of the season, that would be perfect timing. That way, no-one could catch us."

VfB Stuttgart, Hamburger SV and 1. FC Nürnberg are all party to the Lions' game of big cat and mouse, but that's not to say there isn't still time to rope in a couple more unwilling participants, with SC Freiburg and 13th-placed Hannover currently only three points clear of the bottom three.

'The better team'

"We know that Braunschweig can make it hard to play football," admitted Hannover head coach Tayfun Korkut. "The team play with heart in every game and don't give up the ball easily, but we have the quality to match them all the way. When push comes to shove, we can make it hard for Braunschweig to beat us. We are the better team."

What Korkut's bold assessment fails to mention, however, is that Hannover have lost their last three, whilst recording just two away wins in 14 attempts all season. "It's a massive game for us," the 40-year-old continued. "These are always tense games and we have to convert that tension into positive energy. The team are focussed, and I have a very good feeling about Sunday's game."

Possible line-ups:

Braunschweig: Davari - Kessel, Bicakcic, Correia, Reichel - Vrancic, Boland - Elabdellaoui, Hochscheidt - Nielsen, Kumbela

Hannover: Zieler - H. Sakai, Hoffmann, C. Schulz, Prib - Stindl, Andreasen - Huszti, Bittencourt - Ya Konan, Rudnevs

Christopher Mayer-Lodge

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