Hotaru Yamaguchi, Adam Szalai and Hugo Almeida could make their Hannover 96 debuts when the strugglers kick off 2016 with the visit of SV Darmstadt 98 to the HDI Arena on Saturday (kick-off 15.30CET/14.30GMT).

The trio have been drafted in by new coach Thomas Schaaf, who will also sit on the Reds' bench for the first time this weekend, to strengthen an attack he says "lacks potency." Indeed with just 18 goals scored in the first 17 games of the season, that is where Hannover will be looking to improve.

Darmstadt scored one goal fewer, but they nevertheless have a four-point advantage over their hosts, and they will be keen to maintain or extend that this weekend.

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Matchday 1 rewind: Darmstadt 2-2 Hannover

Goals: 1-0 Heller (31'), 1-1 Benschop (48'), 2-1 Heller (54'), 2-2 Sulu (62', o.g.)

Two goals from Marcel Heller were not enough for SV Darmstadt to celebrate their Bundesliga return after 33 years with a win, as they were pegged back twice by visiting Hannover 96, an Aytac Sulu own goal depriving them of maximum points.

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Matchday 18 - match facts

  • Hannover have spent the winter break inside the bottom three for the first time since the 2002/03 season.
  • Darmstadt have a good head-to-head record against Hannover: six wins and just four defeats in 17 games.
  • Darmstadt's last win in Hanover was on 1 September 1980 (2-1 in Bundesliga 2).
  • Charlison Benschop has scored four goals in three appearances against Darmstadt.
  • Jan Rosenthal spent a decade as a Hannover player (2000-2010) and played a total of 80 games for them, scoring 11 goals.

Possible line-ups

Hannover: Zieler - H. Sakai, Marcelo, C. Schulz, Sorg - Hoffmann - S. Sane, Prib - Schmiedebach - Hugo Almeida, Szalai

Absentees: Hiroshi Kiyotake (broken foot), Uffe Bech (ribs), Leon Andreasen (hand), Charlison Benschop (knee), Marius Wolf (hip)

Darmstadt: Mathenia - Garics, Sulu, Rajkovic, Caldirola - Niemeyer, Gondorf - Heller, Rausch - Rosenthal - Wagner


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