FC Ingolstadt 04 look to be on course for a second consecutive Bundesliga season ahead of their clash with basement club Hannover 96 on Saturday afternoon (kick-off 15:30CEST/13:30GMT).
Ingolstadt only need a draw to reach the 40-point threshold, sufficient for last season's Bundesliga 2 champions to guarantee their top flight status. Ralph Hasenhüttl's men lost 2-0 against SV Darmstadt 98 last Saturday, and the reverse fixture saw Die Schanzer suffer a 4-0 defeat, but the Bavarians are nonetheless the favourites to prevail on Saturday.
Since that Matchday 14 mishap, Ingolstadt have only been lower than 12th for one week. Anything but a win would see Hannover's 14-year stay in the Bundesliga come to an end, meanwhile, although last Friday's 2-0 win over Borussia Mönchengladbach gave Daniel Stendel's men a stay of execution, and a late spring in their step ahead of this encounter.
Matchday 14 rewind: Hannover 4-0 Ingolstadt
Hannover made light work of Ingolstadt on Matchday 14, beating the promoted side 4-0 at the HDI-Arena.
Matchday 31 - match stats
- Ingolstadt, in ninth, appear to be safe. No team has ever been relegated from the Bundesliga having made it to Matchday 30 in the top half of the table.After six games without a win - five of them defeats - Hannover picked up their second win of 2016 last Friday, beating Borussia Mönchengladbach 2-0. Hannover will be relegated for the fifth time in their history if they lose. The 96ers also went down in 1974, 1976, 1986 and 1989.Hannover have taken four of a possible six points since Daniel Stendel succeeded Thomas Schaaf. The victory over Gladbach meant Stendel had won more points in a week than Schaaf did in three months.This meeting pairs together the two weakest attacks in the league. Hannover have scored 26 goals, Ingolstadt 27, meaning both teams have averaged less than a goal per game.Both teams are struggling with low conversion rates, averaging around 13 shots per goal.There has been an upswing for both, however. In the last two games, Hannover have scored twice apiece. Ingolstadt have averaged at least two goals in their last six home games.Hannover have only scored one goal on the counter-attack - a league low.Hannover's 4-0 victory in the reverse fixture on Matchday 14 was the only time in the last three years that they have won by more than a three-goal margin. It was also Ingolstadt's worst-ever Bundesliga defeat.
Ingolstadt: Özcan - da Costa, Bregerie, Hübner, Bauer - Roger - Groß, Christiansen - Hartmann, Lezcano, Leckie
Absentees: Danilo (light training), Matip (suspended)
Coach: Ralph Hasenhüttl
Hannover: Zieler - Sakai, Sane, Milosevic, Albornoz - Anton, Schmiedebach - Karaman, Kiyotake, Sarenren-Bazee - Sobiech
Absentees: Felipe (adductor), Andreasen (foot), Bech (knee), Yamaguchi (broken nose), Benschop (light training), Wolf (hip)
Coach: Daniel Stendel