14:30 BST, Saturday 21st October, WWK Arena (Augsburg, Germany)
Separated by goal difference alone, Augsburg and Hannover enter Matchday 9 sitting in 8th and 9th place, respectively. Hannover started the season like a house on fire going unbeaten in their opening six matches but André Breitenreiter’s side has been halted thanks to consecutive defeats.
Augsburg haven’t won since Matchday 5 against Stuttgart. They will like their chances at home this weekend though. Both teams need a victory if they are to maintain their place in the top half of the standings.
Last Time Out
Hoffenheim 2-2 Augsburg (Bundesliga)
Augsburg made the journey to Sinsheim looking to return to winning ways as they faced off against a Hoffenheim who have been flying in recent weeks. In a scoreless first half, it was Hoffenheim who took the lead thanks to a soaring header from Benjamin Hübner. Augsburg refused to stay down, though, and levelled the scores through a well-taken goal by substitute Michael Gregoritsch.
Hoffenheim would retake the lead with five minutes remaining when Mark Uth’s excellent curling strike was well out of reach for the outstretched Marwin Hitz. But in stoppage time, Augsburg rescued a point in an incongruous manner: Jeffrey Gouweleeuw’s cross deflecting off Kevin Vogt and into the back of the net.
Hannover 1-2 Eintracht Frankfurt (Bundesliga)
Hannover were looking to atone for their last-minute defeat last time out to Borussia Mönchengladbach as they welcomed Eintracht Frankfurt to the HDI Arena. Hannover had a less than welcome start, falling behind in the opening 10 minutes as Sebastien Haller scored past Philipp Tschauner. Hannover fought their way back into the contest and just after the half hour mark they drew level: Salif Sané with an excellent header from the set piece to secure his first goal of the campaign.
But it would be all for nothing as Ante Rebić scored with an excellent touch and volley to see Hannover succumb to defeat for the second consecutive match.
Manuel Baum implemented the 5-4-1 formation against Hoffenheim. This time, though, expect a change in shape from Augsburg.
Kevin Danso will be the player to miss out as Augsburg goes to a back four. Michael Gregoritsch will return to the starting XI after his excellent performance off the substitutes bench. He will play in the number 10 role behind Alfred Finnbogason.
The return of Jonathas will be welcomed by Hannover fans and he will be favourite to lead the line for Hannover with Niclas Füllkrug making way. Florian Hübner will continue to partner Salif Sané in defence whilst Kenan Karaman provides the width on the left. There will, however, be no room for Ihlas Bebou and Felix Klaus who remain on the bench.
Key Battle: Michael Gregoritsch vs Salif Sané
Michael Gregoritsch has made a positive transition to Augsburg since joining from Hamburg. The Austrian international has two goals and an assist so far this season which means he is well on his way to bettering his total last season where he managed five goals and three assists. Expect Gregoritsch to return to the starting lineup on Saturday but if he comes off the bench Augsburg will benefit from his energy in the late stages of the game.
Salif Sané may have his hands full keeping the crafty Austrian out of the game but Hannover are fortunate to have the Senegalese defender leading the defense. The 27-year-old has won 61% of total duels and 82% of aerial duels. Sané will have Gregoritsch covered aerially although the Austrian will pose a tough threat to Sané on the ground.
Although Augsburg have been solid up to this point, they have shot themselves in the foot at the defensive end. This has seen the Bavarian club cough up points this season. Manuel Baum’s side rank 2nd in the Bundesliga for defensive errors with 4: only Borussia Mönchengladbach (6) are ahead of them in this category. Of these 4 defensive errors, 3 of them have led to goals. Can Augsburg avoid such costly mistakes on Saturday?
There is no questioning that Hannover play with plenty of heart and passion but on occasion they have stepped over the line. In the opening 8 matches, no team has more yellow cards than them with Hannover picking up 20: 18 coming from tackles. In a must-win game to end a two-game slide, Hannover need to keep their emotions behind the line if they are to avoid losing the plot in Augsburg.
Prediction: Augsburg 1-1 Hannover
With both sides desperate to get back to winning ways, this match-up could be one to watch. Hannover have an excellent record over Augsburg winning 5 of the 10 leagues meetings between the two sides and will look to continue that on Saturday. However, Augsburg and Hannover could cancel each other out with the sides sharing the points in Bavaria.
Will it be Augsburg or Hannover who continue their impressive starts to the season? Let us know in the comments section below
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