January 18, 2013
Schalke 04 v Hannover 96: Preview
Team Stat Comparison
|Schalke 04||Hannover 96|
|Goals for *||2.1||1.5|
|Goals against *||1.3||2.3|
|Last 5 home||L-W-D-W-W||W-D-L-D-D|
|Last 5 away||W-W-L-W-L||L-W-L-W-L|
|* Goals per match - home matches for home club and away matches for away club|
|Stats: Schalke 04 | Hannover 96|
Johan Djourou is in line for his Hannover debut tomorrow night when the Reds travel to Schalke.
The former Arsenal defender has made a big impression on Hannover coach Mirko Slomka, who sees no reason why he should not be thrown in at the deep end at the Arena AufSchalke.
"Without a doubt, Djourou belongs in our starting XI,'' he said. "He was a player we really wanted. It wasn't easy to get him, he was playing for Arsenal after all.
"But I think we have gained an extraordinarily good central defender.
"He has a great presence and is very cool on the field and in possession, and that is what we desperately needed.''
Indeed, Hannover have slipped out of the top six and a third consecutive season in Europe is in jeopardy at the midway stage of the season.
That is why victory over Schalke, who are also at risk of missing out on Europe next term, would be an ideal start to 2013.
"With a win, we can overtake Schalke, which would be a big boost since they are a side who are aiming for a place in the Champions League,'' said Slomka at the pre-match press conference.
The Royal Blues still have a Champions League last-16 tie with Galatasaray to look forward to, but their new coach Jens Keller, who replaced Huub Stevens just before Christmas, must also ensure the team do not lose too much ground in the league.
A 5-0 defeat to Bayern Munich during the winter break has set the alarm bells ringing in Gelsenkirchen, but Keller is remaining optimistic.
"We are in a very good condition,'' he said. "We have worked on a lot in our training camp and we are ready to go.''
Keller could include new signing Raffael, who only joined this week, in his squad while Edu, who has returned from a loan spell at Greuther Furth, is also a candidate.
Lewis Holtby, who has agreed a deal to join Tottenham next season, will see what kind of a reaction he will get from the Schalke faithful, some of whom manifested their disappointment after Holtby announced his decision to leave the club.