A 2-1 defeat to Lower Saxony ‘rivals’ VfL Osnabrück was not the way that Hannover 96 wanted to prepare for their ‘real’ derby next week against Eintracht Braunschweig, with their promotion credentials far from view on Friday evening.
After a solid second half of last season, many people though that Hannover were well primed for a promotion challenge this season. However, coach Kenan Kocak had thought otherwise, calling on a major revamp of the team, in which no-one was safe.
As well as seeing a double-digit number of players leave at the end of their contracts, as well as Waldemar Anton moving to the Bundesliga, senior players Ron-Robert Zieler, Felipe, Marvin Bakalorz and Edgar Prib were told to find new clubs. Some of those – particularly injury-prone Felipe – were understandable, Prib though was somewhat less so after a strong set of displays after the corona-break.
With some parts of the squad needing a total rebuild, it has left Hannover needing to bed in a new team. This is most stark at full-back, with newcomers Sei Muroya and Niklas Hult the only recognised options, whilst in midfield Jaka Bijol made his debut here.
Inevitably, things did not quite click against Osnabrück, although the newcomers can’t be held accountable with old failings coming to the fore.
It is still early in the season but Hannover did not look like promotion candidates. In attack, things didn’t really click, with Marvin Ducksch struggling to beat Philipp Kühn, whilst at the back, Marcel Franke was clumsy in his foul on Etienne Amenyido leading to the first penalty.
Christian Santos, scorer of that spot kick, was then left completely free on the corner to head in the second goal. After a disallowed goal against Karlsruhe last week, further evidence that they haven’t improved defending set pieces over the summer.
The 4-4-2 diamond used, with Linton Maina supporting a frustrated Ducksch, didn’t function how Kocak would have wanted and in the latter stages he threw on pretty much every offensive option he had, but with little structure to their game at this point it made little difference. Ducksch’s consolation came too late to make a difference.
There’s no doubt that there is quality and experience in this squad, and managing to fend off interest in Maina from Wolfsburg over the summer could prove decisive as the season progress, but there is work to do if they are to achieve their aim of a Bundesliga return.
And it gets no easier next week either.
Credit though goes to Marco Grote’s side. They were very impressive here whilst with three goals in two games, Christian Santos looks like the proper number nine they were missing last season. Maybe they can do better than expected this season.
VfL Osnabrück 2-1 Hannover 96
Osnabrück: Kühn; Ajdini, Beermann (Gugganig 62‘), Trapp, Reichel; Taffertshofer, Henning (Köhler 88‘); Amenyido (Multhaup 88‘), Kerk, Klaas (Ihorst 68‘); Santos (Heider 68‘).
Hannover: Esser; Muroya (Evina 73‘), Franke, Hübers, Hult (Twumasi 73‘); Bijol, Frantz (Schindler 61‘), Kaiser, Haraguchi; Maina (Weydandt 61‘), Ducksch.
Goals: Santos 33‘, 47‘; Ducksch 90+2‘.
Referee: Arne Aarnink.
Elsewhere: FC Erzgebirge Aue 1-1 SpVgg Greuther Fürth.