With the pressure mounting upon him, Michael Frontzeck's Hannover 96 welcome high flying newly promoted FC Ingolstadt 04 to the HDI Arena - in the first competitive meeting between the two sides - as both look for victory for rather different reasons.
Despite securing a string of results in prior weeks, die Roten face the risk of being marooned in the relegation zone following defeats to Hertha BSC and Borussia Mönchengladbach; whilst Ralph Hasenhüttl's die Schanzer charges earned a huge three points against SV Darmstadt 98 last weekend that propelled the Bavarian side firmly away from the drop zone and towards the higher echelons of the table.
Frontzeck, who has seen pressure placed upon him following recent poor results, was cautious to his sides approach and made it quite clear that die Roten would respect the traveling side; he stated "We have to be patient and not too open, because they [FCI] have good counter-attacking qualities". Hannover 96 have played six games at home this season, winning only one.
The H96 boss continued detailing that the HDI-Arena side are boosted by the return of a plethora of regular first team players, "Mevlüt Erdinç, Uffe Bech and Miiko Albornoz are all fit to play. They have trained all week".
In a similar manor to his opposite, despite not being under the same pressure, Ralph Hasenhüttl played down his sides chances stating "Our confidence is flourishing, although this must not lead to complacency - Hannover are quite capable of taking something from the game." He continued in regards to die Roten, "For Hannover 96 anything but a win must be a disappointment; We want to show our away game strength once more!".
The Audi Sportpark side have been praised for the defensive exerts this campaign; indeed they are second only to Bayern Munich in the goals conceded charts, as well as breaking numerous records for a promoted side. The Austrian praised his side for this - he said "I am not surprised that our defence is performing so well, because the entire team is working for it."
Hannover 96 team news
With the return of the aforementioned trio, die Roten have almost an unscathed squad to choose from for the game at the HDI-Arena. Leon Andreasen, as well, looks likely to feature after recovering from a cut sustained in the defeat to die Alte Dame. However, Michael Frontzeck will be without Felix Klaus and the influential Hiroshi Kiyotake; the pair absent with a hairline fracture and a bruised knee respectively. The former SC Freiburg and 1. FC Nürnberg men will prove to be bitterly missed, as they provide the main creative flair into an otherwise uninspiring side.
The German, Frontzeck, is expected to continue with his usual 4-2-3-1 formation, spearheaded by the Pole Artur Sobiech who has been a rare brightspark in what has proved to be an all to dissimilar season of struggles. Another stand-out, Salif Sané, will continue will Manuel Schmiedebach despite being at risk with a yellow card accumulation ban.
Predicted line-up: Zieler; Sorg, Marcelo, Schulz, Albornoz; Schmiedebach, Sané; Bech, Andreasen, Karaman; Sobiech.
FC Ingolstadt 04 team news
Hasenhüttl confirmed that the only injury absentees for die Schanzer are Danilo Soares and Markus Suttner; providing an issue in the left back area for the former 1. FC Köln striker in his day. However, Robert Bauer - German youth international who scored a stunner in last weekends victory - is expected to continue in the position he was drafted into at short notice against die Lillien.
The Bavarian side will welcome back Matthew Leckie back into the side, after the Australian missed die Schanzer's last outing due to a yellow card suspension. Stefan Lex will also return to the starting eleven after making his comeback against Dirk Schuster's side.
Predicted line-up: Özcan; Levels, Matip, Hübner, Bauer; Roger, Groß, Morales; Lex, Leckie, Hartmann.