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Bayern host Hannover

Justify role as favourites and take step towards title

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With first hosting last, the statistics would appear in FC Bayern’s favour when they take on Hannover on matchday 32 (kick-off at 15:30 CEST on Saturday, coverage available in our live ticker). Just once in the Bundesliga’s 56-year history has a club sitting bottom of the table been able to win away at the league leaders when Fortuna Düsseldorf won 1-0 at Leverkusen in August 1996.

However, Niko Kovac does not care for such statistical games. When a club’s fate is on the line, whether for the title or relegation, the 47-year-old believes surprises are always possible: “Teams unleash their forces. It’s Hannover’s final chance to achieve safety and it makes things tough.”

Regardless of how much Bayern need to put into the game, the league leaders want to justify their role as favourites. “We have to win,” said Franck Ribery. Such a result would give FCB a five-point lead over second-placed Borussia Dortmund and up the pressure on them before their match at Werder Bremen in the evening. “The focus is there, the lads want to be champions and we’ll give everything for that,” Kovac said of the team’s mood.

“It’s about every player working hard for the team, and everyone knows we’ll have two trophies with four wins,” Joshua Kimmich summarised, while also throwing the DFB Cup final against RB Leipzig on 25 May into the mix. There is no room for another slip like there was in the draw at Nürnberg last time out. “We have to show a reaction against Hannover on Saturday,” Ribery demanded.

The Frenchman would prefer to do that on the pitch himself. After missing the last two games with injury, the 36-year-old has declared himself fit for Saturday alongside his long-time partner-in-crime Arjen Robben. However, Kovac will be without captain Manuel Neuer (calf) and James Rodriguez (muscular).

Visitors Hannover will also be without their skipper. Marvin Bakalorz is suspended after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season, while Ihlas Bebou (thigh) is also not yet fit for what Hannover see as a final at the Allianz Arena. The Lower Saxony side are currently on 18 points and know that if they fail to match 16th-placed VfB Stuttgart’s result (24 points) then they will be relegated.

“The team has come together and I trust my lads to pull off a surprise,” stated coach Thomas Doll. The Hannover boss will have to hope his side can end a 27-match winless run away from home – in Munich of all places. “We’re thinking about what’s still possible. Everything else is on hold,” the 53-year-old added.

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