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"Keep up the pressure"

Year-end kicks off at Hannover

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Bayern don’t have much time to celebrate after their midweek Champions League win at Ajax, which saw them top the group. On Saturday they return to Bundesliga action with a trip to Hannover 96 (live on ticker and Webradio from 15:30 CET on “The Champions League is done for this year,” highlighted Niko Kovac during Friday’s press conference. “We now have three more Bundesliga games left. First up it’s Hannover, where we have to win.”

Similar sentiments were expressed by CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge: “We need the three points so that we can creep up to second place,” said the 63-year-old at the post-match banquet in Amsterdam. The Reds currently sit in third place, two points behind Borussia Mönchengladbach and nine behind leaders Borussia Dortmund. “We’re behind, so we need to win to keep up the pressure. A win is a must,” reiterated Kovac.

Robben’s year over

Sadly he won’t be able to call on the services of Arjen Robben, who will miss the remainder of this year because of injury. The boss couldn’t yet say whether other players will be absent following the Ajax game. “We’ll see in the final training session whether there are any knocks, and then we’ll make a decision,” explained the 47-year-old, who hinted at changes to the starting line-up. “We’ll take into account that we have three games in the space of a week.”

Kovac and his players want to end the first half of the season on a high in these three matches. After back-to-back wins in the league, “the trend is positive and we want to carry that on.” Although Hannover are currently second from bottom, it won’t be easy – particularly away from home. “The crowd will do everything to help the team make life difficult for us. They have a lot of pace up front and they were unlucky to drop points last weekend.”

Hannover eyeing an upset

And for that reason, the Lower Saxony outfit also need the points. “We can’t give anything away – not against any opponents. We need points,” declared coach André Breitenreiter. Nevertheless, the 45-year-old is aware of the difficulty of the challenge: “Bayern’s performances have steadied. We have the opportunity to cause a shock here at home.”

The Munich men will be doing all they can to stop that. “We need discipline in attack and defence, and the same mentality and passion we showed on Wednesday,” added Kovac. Do that, and they’ll be celebrating again – but only briefly before the next game.