It’s still early doors in the Rückrunde but Hannover have already caught the eye. Die Roten were struggling towards the end of the Hinrunde and they only managed to win just once in 12 games (including the DFB Pokal defeat to Bayern). Things certainly weren’t looking good for Hannover as they finished the Hinrunde only four points above the bottom three.
The winter break saw the Lower Saxony club part company with Mirko Slomka after the disappointing season so far. In came Tayfun Korkut, who is the first Turkish coach to manage a Bundesliga club. Korkut has brought in two new faces (both on loan), first up was the arrival of Hamburg’s Latvian striker Artjoms Rudnevs and before the end of the window in came František Rajtoral from Czech side Viktoria Plzeň.
Hannover’s first Bundesliga game of 2014 saw them take a 57 mile drive to the Volkswagen Arena to face VfL Wolfsburg. Wolfsburg had their best Hinrunde ever after securing 30 points after 17 games, they also reached 30 points in the 2004/05 season but this season they’ve managed to achieve a higher goal difference. With Die Wölfe sitting in 5th place and Hannover in 13th, I’m sure there wasn’t many expecting a Hannover victory. Hannover indeed managed to cause an upset as they run out 3-1 winners to secure their first away win of the season. Wolfsburg had the better of the first half but found themselves behind when Rudnevs grabbed himself a debut goal, the Latvian linking up with strike partner Diouf, the Senegal international provided a great pass to send Rudnevs on his way. Hannover’s goal was cancelled out when Arnold’s shot was palmed straight into Olić’s path, one of the easiest goals he’ll score this season. In the second half Hannover improved, winning the game after a fantastic brace from Leonardo Bittencourt. His first goal came after he intercepted a quick freekick from Diego, playing a one-two with Diouf and tucking the ball past Benaglio. Bittencourt completed the scoring when he smashed home a perfectly weighted pass from Huszti. That win saw Hanover climb up into 10th place.
After securing their first away win of the season Hannover welcomed high flying Borussia Mönchengladbach to the HDI-Arena. Hannover were very organised once again and they put in a highly impressive performance. Gladbach struggled to break down Hannover’s defence and it was no surprise it was goalless at the break. In the second half Hannover came alive and the usually strong Gladbach defence were blown away. Huszti provided a lovely cross towards the back post where Rudnevs leapt over Wendt to head past ter Stegen. Huszti was the provider once more as he easily went past Mlapa before producing a perfect cross for Diouf to excellently head back across goal. Gladbach grabbed a goal back two minutes later when Younes pick out Mlapa with a great cross, the ex-Hoffenheim striker powerfully heading past Zieler. Late on Diouf secured all three points when he found himself in tons of space, the Senegalese striker punished Gladbach by drilling his shot past ter Stegen. Another win for Hannover meant they stayed in 10th place and see themselves 4 points behind Augsburg and Hertha Berlin.
So far under Korkut what’s been the difference?
Hannover’s defence has been poor this season, they’ve only managed 3 clean sheets in the league. Only Nürnberg (2), Hoffenhiem (1) and Stuttgart (2) have managed to keep less clean sheets, while Freiburg and Hamburg also have 3 clean sheets. Under Korkut they’ve still conceded in both games, however only managing to concede twice against Wolfsburg and Gladbach is something to be proud off. Both sides have fantastic attacking options and Hannover managed to stay well organised, worked hard as a team and frustrate the talented players Wolfsburg and Gladbach boast.
As well as being much more organised as a team, Hannover now process a much more threatening attack. The addition of Rudnevs has really paid off for Korkut so far, the Latvian has already scored twice since arriving from Hamburg and his performances along side Diouf has already shown signs of a very promising partnership. Diouf has hit some great form, two goals against Gladbach and two assists against Wolfsburg. It certainly looks like Diouf and Rudnevs have hit it off straight away and it looks like they already have a good understanding. Hannover’s opener against Wolfsburg saw some fantastic link up play between the pair.
Two other players that have stood out in these two wins are Bittencourt and Huszti. Bittencourt started to show signs of his potential towards the end of the Hinrunde and he’s also started the Rückrunde in fine fashion. Two goals against Wolfsburg and another great display against Gladbach. Huszti has always been a key player for Hannover and there’s no doubt he’s the most creative player in this Hannover side. Korkut has understandably given Huszti the freedom to drift inside and influence the game from the centre of midfield. Huszti has three assists in two games, while also being involved in Rudnevs goal against Wolfsburg.
Hannover now have an impressive attacking quartet to cause teams many problems. The club are in a much better position than they were when the Rückrunde started. Providing Die Roten can continue to punish teams on the break and producing organised defensive displays, there’s no reason why this side can’t finish in the top half of the table and possibly sneak into a Europa League spot. The Bundesliga is very tight at the moment so it’s going to be interesting to see how things go for Korkut’s side in the next few games.
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