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Bremen draw level

Bayern under pressure in Hanover

Sitting in as an expert commentator for live football broadcaster Premiere on Saturday, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge watched at close hand as Werder Bremen comfortably defeated ten-man 1. FC Nürnberg 2-0 to move onto 40 points from 20 matches and cancel out Bayern’s lead at the top of the Bundesliga. The Reds still top the table, but only on goal difference from the northerners

Bayer Leverkusen also moved to within five points of the leaders with a hard-fought 2-2 draw in Karlsruhe, although Schalke 04 slipped up with a 2-1 home reverse against in-form VfL Wolfsburg. However, the weekend results so far have only served to increase the pressure on Ottmar Hitzfeld and his men.

Rummenigge hoping for at least a point

Bayern will be looking for at least a point and preferably all three when they visit Hannover 96 on Sunday (Live in English from 4.45 pm on Web Radio). “You had to expect a Bremen win. Now it’s up to us to restore the three-point lead. In any case, I’m sure we won’t lose,” Rummenigge commented.

When Bayern take the field in front of a capacity crowd at the AWD Arena, they will need a return to the kind of solid defensive performance which has characterised most of the season so far. “We need to concentrate harder on everything we do defensively, and that includes the midfield and the attack. We’ll need to give at least ten percent more to keep a clean sheet,” remarked Hitzfeld after watching his side concede two sloppy goals against Aberdeen.

Confident Altintop

“We need to be better organised at the back too,” the Bayern coach continued. “Hannover are an attacking side who love to get forward, but they’re not as solid at the back.“ Luca Toni and Miroslav Klose will be ordered to probe this weaker area.

“We have to be looking for three points,” declared midfielder Hamit Altintop. The Turk’s second-half equaliser in Aberdeen means Bayern are extremely well placed for the return at the Allianz Arena on Thursday, and the goal was clearly a personal confidence-booster too. “Hannover are a good side, but we’re Bayern Munich so we’re favourites. We’re not even contemplating defeat,” continued Altintop, “anyone wanting to beat us will have to work very, very hard.“

Jansen rested

Saturday’s final training session threw up no new injury worries. Franck Ribéry is still unavailable, but should be fit for Thursday’s UEFA Cup tie. Daniel van Buyten deputises for Martin Demichelis, out for two weeks with a torn muscle. Breno has fallen victim to the flu, and Marcell Jansen is rested after a 90-minute comeback from a three-month lay-off in Aberdeen.

The Lower Saxony outfit, who have not won in three matches, may hand ex-Bayern man Valerien Ismael his debut. The Frenchman, who switched to Hannover in January, feels his new team could give his former side a run for their money: “On a good day we’re capable of beating anyone at home, Bayern included.“ However, that feat has eluded Hannover for nearly 20 years.

Matchday squad: Kahn, Rensing, Lucio, Van Buyten, Lell, Lahm, Sagnol, Van Bommel, Zé Roberto, Ottl, Schweinsteiger, Altintop, Sosa, Kroos, Toni, Klose, Podolski, Schlaudraff

Unavailable: Ribéry (rehab), Demichelis (torn muscle), Breno (flu), Dreher, Jansen (omitted).

Bayern’s record in the fixture: P18 W7 D6 L5 F33 A26