Round two of the DFB Pokal sees a bitter rivalry renewed as Hannover 96 hosts Werder Bremen at the HDI Arena on Wednesday night. The sides may be in different leagues at the moment, but they still share a lot of similarities.
Hannover are the textbook definition of inconsistency. They’ll win one week before losing the next, which means they now sit comfortably in midtable.
Bremen seemed like they were on the cusp of a crisis, but a 90th minute goal from Eren Dinkçi gave them a much needed victory against Mainz. The result kept them away from the relegation zone for now, and calmed the nerves of many fans.
It’s still early in the tournament, but both clubs will certainly want to get one over on their regional neighbors.
Hannover will be without a few players, as the likes of Frank Evina, Linton Maina, and Michael Esser won’t be back until January at the earliest. Mike Frantz, meanwhile, is doubtful due to a hip injury.
Bremen lost two central figures this weekend, as Leonardo Bittencourt got hurt in training right before the contest against Mainz while Omer Toprak had to be subbed off during the game with an achilles issue. The former won't be available for selection, but there is hope the latter could feature.
Hannover 96: Ratajczak, Muroya, Franke, Hubers, Falatte, Haraguchi, Bijol, Schindler, Ducksch, Sulejmani, Weydadnt
Werder Bremen: Pavlenka, Groß, Veljkovic, Friedl, Mbom, Eggestein, Erras, Schmid, Agu, Dinkçi, Chong
Ones to watch
Things were looking so bright for Marvin Ducksch.
A product of the Borussia Dortmund academy, many had hopes that Ducksch could be the answer at striker for both club and country. He was scoring goals for fun as a youngster, and he was climbing up the ranks at a rapid rate.
However, it all began to fall apart when he made the jump up to the first team. He couldn’t score for Dortmund, and a loan move to Paderborn also failed. It seemed like a revival could be on the horizon when Ducksch scored 18 goals in a season for Holstein Kiel in the 2.Bundesliga, but that only led to another disappointing top flight move, this time to Fortuna Dusseldorf.
It’s been a strange path to Hannover, but he might have finally found somewhere to settle. Ducksch was solid last campaign, and he already has four goals and four assists to his name this time around.
He may be a case of failed potential, but that doesn’t mean he can’t drop a masterclass every now and again. If Hannover wants any chance of pulling off an upset, they’ll need Ducksch to be at his very best.
The hero on Saturday afternoon, it’ll be interesting to see if Eren Dinkçi can pull off some more magic this time around.
A phenom at the youth level last season, Dinkçi scored over 20 goals for the Bremen academy team. He kept up that momentum going into this campaign, grabbing seven goals in only eight Regionalliga Nord appearances. People began to take note of his performances, with the player even being linked with Serie A giants Juventus at one stage.
The club knew he was a potential star in the making, but even they would've been surprised at what happened this past weekend. Only in the matchday squad due to the club’s injuries up top, Dinkçi was subbed on in the 86th minute in a last roll of the dice by manager Florian Kohfeldt.
Dinkçi didn’t do much during his brief cameo, but he was still able to make a difference with one of his few touches of the ball. Finding space at the back post, the forward managed to get on the end of a superb cross from Tahith Chong to head home from close range, snatching all three points for his side on his debut.
He deserves to start against Hannover as a result, and if Dinkçi can get on the scoresheet again, Bremen might just have a new attacking threat.
Last time out
The two sides have faced off in a few friendlies recently, but their last competitive matchup came nearly two years ago at the HDI Arena.
After a hot start, Bremen would score the only goal of the game at the half hour mark. It was a well worked team goal, as Max Kruse played Maximilian Eggestein down the wing with a clever pass. His low cross picked out Martin Harnik, who went for a cheeky flick towards the back post. The initial effort was saved, but Milot Rashica was on hand to poke home the rebound.
They really should have scored a few more on the afternoon, but they were constantly denied by a heroic Michael Esser, who stood on his head in goal.
Unbelievably enough, it was the goalkeeper who almost set up a last minute equalizer for Hannover. Picking up the loose ball after a corner, Esser chipped a delightful cross towards the backpost. Nicolai Muller was able to make solid contact with a header, but Philipp Bargfrede cleared the attempt off the line to secure all three points for Bremen.
How to watch
The contest won’t be broadcasted in the UK, but those in the United States will be able to see the game on ESPN 3.