Hello German football fans and welcome to Sports Mole
's coverage of an important Northern derby match between Werder Bremen
and Hannover. Both teams are desperate for three points tonight to keep their fight for a Europa League place alive and secure local bragging rights.
Bremen in particular need to reverse their fortunes after taking just one point from their four league matches in 2013. Thomas Schaaf
's side have been playing below their potential since the winter break but can appease a loyal fanbase with victory over local rivals Hannover this evening.
Hannover have been exciting all season and continue to rise up the table thanks to regular goals from Mame Diouf
and Szablocs Huszti. The visitors are without forward Didier Ya Konan tonight as he continues to represent the Ivory Coast on Africa Cup of Nations duty.
Bremen have selection issues of their own this evening and must do without Austrian forward Marko Arnautovic
and Clemens Fritz through suspension.
BREAKING TEAM NEWS: Let's take a look at the sides that will start tonight's derby clash as the Weserstadion. Both teams have named attacking lineups which bodes well for an entertaining clash.
WERDER BREMEN XI: Mielitz, Lukimya, De Bruyne, Ekici, Elijah, Schmitz, Hunt, Junuzovic, Ignjovski, Sokratis, Petersen
HANNOVER XI: Zieler, Chahed, Djourou, Haggui, Pander, Pinto, Schmiedebach, Schlaudraff, Hustzi, Diouf, Abdellaoue
Despite losing more away matches than any other Bundesliga team, Hannover have stuck with an expansive side that will look to attack from the outset. Arsenal loanee Johan Djourou
continues in central defence while new signing Sebastien Pocognoli is forced out through suspension.
Bremen have decided to start Dutch winger Eljero Elia
while Chelsea's Belgian prospect Kevin de Bruyne
plays and is expected to occupy the left flank. Top scorer Nils Petersen
continues in attack with Aaron Hunt
playing just behind the lone striker.
Bremen have failed to win any of their last three home matches and slumped to a crushing 5-0 defeat
against Borussia Dortmund two weeks ago. The Werder faithful will demand better tonight against an improving Hannover side.
PREDICTION! We are just a few minutes from kickoff and there is just time for me to try and pick a winner in a clash between exciting mid-table outfits. Hannover have been awful away from home this season and I expect that run to continue this evening. Both sides like to attack and I expect goals at both ends but think Bremen will just have enough to triumph by two goals to one.
Both teams are out on the field and the Bremen crowd have created quite an atmosphere behind the home goal. Let's hope I have not placed any kind of hoodoo on what looks on paper to be a match destined for goals and drama. Premier League fans should keep an eye out for Mame Diouf
, who has produced the best scoring run of his career to net in his last five consecutive matches.
Bremen get us underway and will kick from right to left. A quick long ball looks to get Elia in behind the Hannover defence but the Dutch winger's poor touch sees the chance vanish.
All Bremen in the early stages as Aaron Hunt
breaks down the left to win a corner. A superb header from Lukimya is directed towards goal but canons back off the crossbar. An early slice of luck for the visitors to escape in the first three minutes.
The home side are pressing high up the pitch and dominating possession but are nearly caught on the counter by a strong burst from Christian Pander. He finds Diouf 20 yards from goal but the forward can only blast a forceful strike off Sokratis. This game has made a promising start.
Kevin de Bruyne
shows his quality for the first time tonight to break free on the left and cross for Mehmet Ekici but his shot is blocked by Johan Djourou
and fails to trouble the Hannover goal.
CHANCE! Bremen go close again through Zlatko Junuzovic, who forces a strong save from Zieler with a low curling shot. The home side go close again just moments later when Ekici's header drifts just wide from close range.
Hannover finally clear their lines after defending two dangerous corners with some desperate rearguard action. The visitors have really struggled to gain a foothold in the match so far, with Djourou and Huggui looking uncomfortable in central defence.
CHANCE! Elia shows skill and pace to get beyond his marker before cutting back for Petersen. Bremen's top scorer looks destined to find the net but is stopped by a desperate late block from Haggui and once again Hannover do just enough to stay level.
MISS! A rare sight of goal for the visitors as Schaludraff cuts inside before unleashing a fierce strike well wide of the far post. Almost instantly Diouf robs possession and sprints clear but sends a tame shot straight to Miellitz inside the penalty area. That should have been the opening goal for Hannover against the run of play.
Bremen have dropped off the pace a touch and allowed Hannover a chance to establish a period of possession.
CHANCE! Hunt slips a brilliant pass between the two Hannover defenders to put Petersen clean through on goal. The forward takes a touch to steady himself before hitting a low shot which is well saved by the feet of Zieler. Another opportunity missed to take the lead by Bremen against their local rivals.
Hunt finds space outside the area but decides to check back and take the shot with his right foot. Under pressure from two Hannover defenders the playmaker badly miscues and sends his strike well wide of the near post.
Pinto darts inside unchallenged and tries a reverse pass to Diouf but Bremen read the danger and clear their lines easily. At the other end Zieler is involved again to intercept an incisive pass from Ekici. Neither defence looks comfortable in a half which has somehow failed to produce an opening goal thus far.
Serbain international Ignjovski races down the wing for Bremen but his Hannover close down his cross and break forward quickly in numbers. Diouf's scuffed pass eventually finds Schlaudraff but his curling shot is well wide of the target.
Abdellaoue has gone down after appearing to twist his knee under a challenge from De Bruyne and he needs treatment which means a break in play. The excitement I promised has been on show but so far neither side has managed to convert a chance on goal, of which there have been plenty in the opening half hour.
The forward has limped back into the match but still looks in visible discomfort. I'm not sure he will last until the break and Hannover may be forced into an early change.
Bremen try to take advantage through De Bruyne and his long pass looks destined to find Petersen clear on goal but a fine punch by Zieler bails Hannover out of trouble.
SUBSTITUTION: Abdellaoue cannot continue and Hannover coach Mirko Slomka swaps him for Polish striker Konstantin Rausch in a surprisingly positive change.
Bremen settle back into a familiar pattern of possession but despite controlling territory can't get their wide men into dangerous areas. Elia in particular has flattered to deceive so far tonight.
Bremen try another long diagonal pass and Hunt takes advantage of a poor clearance by Haggui to flash a volley just over the bar from close range. Another chance goes begging for Bremen just before the break.
Pinto concedes a free kick and Bremen have one more chance to get players forward before the interval. De Bruyne takes but his delivery is poor and Hannover somehow still have a clean sheet to take into the break.
HALF-TIME Werder Bremen 0-0 Hannover
A first 45 minutes full of chances and incidents ends goalless thanks to a string of fine saves from Hannover keeper Zieler.
Bremen had their best opening just three minutes in when defender Assani Lukimya hit the bar with a strong header. Petersen, Hunt and Junuzovic have also created good openings but so far have failed to make their bright attacking exchanges count.
Hannover have shown glimpses of their attacking prowess on the counter and if Diouf had not spurned a gilt-edged opportunity the visitors would have taken an unlikely lead into the break.
If Bremen show the same intensity when play resumes they must remain slight favourites to claim their first home win of 2013. Hannover will hope to keep things tight and spring a surprise on the counter in the closing stages.
Tonight's match features statistically the worst two defences in the Bundesliga this season, with Bremen and Hannover both conceding 37 goals in 19 league games. Surely they can't play out a 0-0 draw, can they?
Hannover get the second half underway and are straight on the attack through Diouf but the striker fails to pick out a pass with two players breaking to his left.
CHANCE! Schlaudraff hits one from deep with little power but Miellitz can only spill into the path of Diouf, who hits it wide from six yards out. The ex-Manchester United striker is a relieved man as he turns right to find the linesman waving his flag for offside.
Pander is lucky to avoid a yellow card for a cynical push on Elia, who was advancing at pace down the right-hand side. A prime example of a necessary tactical foul there from the Hannover full-back.
Both sides are struggling to stamp their authority on a frantic second half but De Bruyne ends a quiet spell by beating two players to win a corner. The on-loan playmaker decides to take himself but sends an aimless cross into the grateful arms of Zieler.
CHANCE! Bremen should be ahead though Lukimya but somehow his looping shot goes over the bar from close range. The defender showed good positional awareness to find space and read a cutback from Elia but failed to find the target from eight yards.
Hunt and De Bruyne have shots deflected wide in quick succession to bring Bremen's corner count to seven before the hour mark. Once again a poor delivery undermines the home side's fine spell of pressure and Hannover get the chance to clear the danger.
Bremen boss Schaaf is furious at the referee Manuel Grafe for stopping play to allow Pinto to receive treatment after he went down under a challenge from Hunt. Hannover take the chance to drop deep and prepare to weather another forward match from the home side.
Petersen beats Djourou at the near post to meet a low cross from Ekici but shoots wide from close range.
YELLOW CARD! Hannover finally escape their own half and but the reprieve does not last long. Bremen try to break quickly and Djourou is forced to take out Ekici with a late lunge to earn a caution.
MISS! Aaron Hunt forces Zieler into a smart save from a tight angle but the rebound falls nicely for Junuzovic. The midfielder has time to line up a shot but sends a wayward effort well wide of the target and a frustrating night continues for the home side.
Bremen pour forward again but leave gaps open at the back and Diouf takes the chance to break clear on goal. The striker is judged offside and despite his fierce protests replays suggest the decision was just about right.
SUBSTITUTION: Bremen decide to introduce Ozkan Yildirim for only the second senior appearance of his career. The central midfielder replaces Mehmet Ekici as Schaff looks to find a late winner.
SAVE! Rausch does well for Hannover to rob possession and play in Diouf but the striker's powerful drive is well saved by Mielitz.
OFF THE LINE! Hannover fail to clear their lines from a corner and Sokartis takes advantage to beat Zieler and send a firm header towards goal. Bremen look destined to take the lead but Schmiedebach is well placed to clear off the line and keep the match goalless.
SUBSTITUTION: Hannover take off captain Schlaudraff and throw on Turkish striker Deniz Kadar with time running out for their side to find a late winner.
The visitors have come to life in the last five minutes and have numbers forward but Kadar's cross is a poor one and allows Bremen to escape with Diouf unmarked at the far post.
The home crowd are on Elia's case as the winger gives away possession by trying to beat two players when a square pass is available. The Dutch winger has looked a shadow of the talent which burst onto the scene four years ago in tonight's match.
GOAL! Werder Bremen 1-0 Hannover (Petersen)
Elia silences his critics, me included, with a sensational burst of pace and skill down the wing. His clever flick is too much for the full-back but this time he has a cross to match. Petersen reads the winger's intentions and meets the ball before slamming home from close range. Utter relief for Bremen as their dominance finally translates to an advantage on the scoreboard.
GOAL! Werder Bremen 2-0 Hannover (Petersen)
Goals come like buses in the last five minutes for Bremen as Petersen slams home his second with a measured volley. The striker has Yildirim to thank for his ninth league goal of the season after a fine run and cross from the substitute.
A brilliant finish from Bremen looks to have given the home side their first victory at the Westerstadion since December. Hannover have defended bravely but their spirited efforts have all been for nothing thanks to a late lapse in concentration.
FULL-TIME Werder Bremen 2-0 Hannover
It took them 87 minutes to break the deadlock but Bremen have a crucial three points thanks a late brace from Nils Petersen. Hannover have now lost their last five away matches and fall further behind in the race for European places.
Bremen climb to 11th with their first home win in four and move into the mid-table pack all lining a late match towards the top six.