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DFB Cup second round

Hungry FCB anticipate fight with Hannover

A clutch of the Bayern stars have already been out and about at the Oktoberfest. Arjen Robben for example, or Thomas Müller, Claudio Pizarro, Dante and Rafinha. But as of Tuesday at the latest, the festivities will proceed without any of the players, because the men in red tackle the next stage of their quest for three trophies in midweek. After recent appointments in the Champions League and Bundesliga, the Bavarians entertain Hannover 96 in the DFB Cup second round on Wednesday (Live in English from 8.30 pm on Web radio; tickets still available!). “The cup competition in Germany is very, very dangerous. One bad game and you’re out,” remarked Pep Guardiola. However, in the light of his team’s recent convincing displays, the head coach is confident: “We’re ready for it.“

Guardiola feels the last two matches, the impressive victories at home to CSKA Moscow and away to Schalke, represent a major step forward. “The team played very well indeed, with hunger. We’ll need the same hunger tomorrow,” commented Guardiola prior to the first home fixture during the Oktoberfest this season. “We need to set off on a winning run,” added Robben.

FCB have not lost at home during the beer and entertainment festival since 2010, and do not intend to spoil that record anytime soon. The aim is to build on the fine performance against Schalke, noted Müller, who is confident in the run-up to the cup clash with the side lying fourth in the league. “At the end of the day, Bayern should be unbeatable during the Oktoberfest period,“ the Bavarian native insisted.

Götze set for squad?

Müller & Co faced Hannover at the Allianz Arena a mere 11 days ago, winning the Bundesliga clash 2-0. “But we saw how difficult it was,” warned Guardiola, recalling a goalless first half in which Mirko Slomka’s men set out their defensive stall to good effect and even had the best chance of the first 45 minutes with a shot off Manuel Neuer’s goal frame. “Yet again, we’ll have to give it 100 percent,” urged Robben.

Compared to the Bundesliga encounter, FCB’s selection options have marginally improved. Bastian Schweinsteiger made a highly-praised return to the starting line-up in Gelsenkirchen (“He played really, really well,“ Guardiola enthused), with Mario Götze and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg resuming squad training two days ago. Guardiola will decide on the day of the match whether to include Götze in the squad for Hannover. “He needs time,” the FCB coach advised.

Hannover in determined mood

Hannover will also be closer to full strength. Slomka is highly likely to start with his leading scorer Szabolcs Huszti, who was suspended for the league fixture 11 days ago. However, striker Mame Diouf, captain Steven Cherundulo, Christian Pander and Felipe are all still sidelined with injury. “We can reflect on a good performance in Munich,” said Slomka, urging his men to be “a little more courageous and daring“ on Wednesday. “Fortune favours the brave, and if we can earn some luck, we might have a chance of scoring.“

However, the fact that FCB are in “scintillating form,“ as Slomka put it, has not gone unnoticed in Lower Saxony. “It’s the toughest cup draw of them all, but that makes it specially appealing,” stated ‘96 sporting director Dirk Dufner, “and if it doesn’t work out, we at least want to have given it everything we have – that has to be our approach.“ Bayern will need to be prepared for a red-hot cup battle.