Andre Breitenreiter spent one season as head coach at Schalke in 2015/16.
Andre Breitenreiter spent one season as head coach at Schalke in 2015/16.

Hannover's Breitenreiter ahead of Schalke: "Playing former clubs is always special"

Hannover’s meeting with Schalke on Sunday will see some renewed acquaintances as the home team’s manager Andre Breitenreiter and sporting director Horst Heldt welcome their former club to the HDI Arena.

Both Breitenreiter and Heldt left Schalke at the end of the 2015/2016 campaign and they will be hoping Hannover can get the better of the Royal Blues in what is their first home game since earning promotion.

Breitenreiter spent just one season in charge of Schalke but was let go after they narrowly missed out on a top-four finish that would have meant a return to the UEFA Champions League.

The 43-year-old’s next managerial role came when he was appointed by Hannover in March this year. A former player with the club, he has yet to experience defeat in 11 games after guiding them to second place in Bundesliga 2 and a 1-0 win at Mainz in their first league game since returning to the top flight.

Watch: Hannover beat Mainz 1-0 on Matchday 1!

“Playing against former clubs is always something special,” Breitenreiter said this week. “You meet old colleagues and friends so I’m looking forward to it.

“Of course I’m also looking forward to our first home game in the Bundesliga – hopefully in front of a sell-out crowd.”

Schalke began life under new boss Domenico Tedesco with a 2-0 win over RB Leipzig and while Breitenreiter is hopeful his team can compete on Sunday, he stressed that both clubs started the season with different targets in mind.

“Schalke want to get into the Champions League,” he said. “For us it’s solely about staying in the top flight.

“So Schalke are clearly the favourites. We’re the underdogs but we want to give everything on the pitch and are also as well prepared as possible.”

Heldt helped Hannover sign Brazilian attacker Jonathas from Russian side Rubin Kazan earlier this week but he joked that facing his old team had nothing to do with the timing of the transfer.

“I absolutely want to win every game,” Heldt told WAZ. “I can assure you – we would also have made this signing if we had a different opponent to play at home this Sunday.”

Heldt, who spent six years at Schalke and also joined Hannover last March, says the home team will have no fear after Martin Harnik’s goal gave them a win in Mainz.

“Obviously we’re clear outsiders,” he said. “But we’re happy to be able to measure ourselves against opponents like this again. Our team had a great start and can go into the game with confidence.”

Click here to read more Hannover news and features!