Every league has a certain amount of inevitability to it. Barcelona will surely win the Spanish La Liga this season while Real Madrid will continue their pursuit of the title till the end of the season. Manchester United will almost certainly win the English Premiership unless Arsenal can overcome their recent injury problems. In Germany, Bayern Munich...no...Borussia Dortmund will definitely win the title.
There are ten matches to go until the end of the season. Even in their lowest of lows, Bayern has always contended for the title till the final matches of the season. In 2006-07, they finished fourth. The difference between them and the winners, VfB Stuttgart, a side which is currently battling relegation, was ten points. With ten games to go, the difference between the top side and the third-placed Bayern is 16, yes 16, points.
The fans have grown tired of Louis Van Gaal. There were posters in the Allianz Arena on Wednesday night which stated "Van Gaal Raus." I surely don't need to translate those words. Bayern collapsed at their home against Schalke. They fell to a Raul goal but Schalke deserved more as on each and every attack, they looked likely to score. Bayern possessed the ball for more than 60% of the match but failed to launch even one meaningful attack. Arjen Robben tried to take matters into his own hands but failed as Schalke defended doggedly.
Van Gaal left the midfield unchanged; as a result, the tired Bastian Schweinsteiger looked completely lost and out of ideas. He made one change; he used Breno rather than Holger Badstuber at the back. Raul and Benedikt Howedes were both left unmarked in the box following a Schalke corner. Raul duly took his chance. Christian Nerlinger said that Van Gaal's position isn't at risk. That surely won't be the case if Bayern loses to Hanover.
Mirko Slomka has never won a game against Bayern. He is the current head-coach of Hanover. However, Hanover occupies the last Champions League spot, third place, and this game is rather like a CL play-off than an average title contender vs relegation battler match. Bayern beat Hanover in their previous meeting in the league, 3-0. Mario Gomez, who went missing in the last two games, scored a hat-trick.
Sacking Van Gaal isn't the solution even though that is what is perhaps needed. This is similar to the Egyptian Revolution. The dictator is gone but the country has to be rebuilt. Bayern will need a coach who can build the players' confidence in themselves from scratch. Bayern needs to finish in second place in the league. When they sacked Juergen Klinsmann in 2008, they had a solution: Jupp Heynckes, who won 80% of the games as manager of the club. Heynckes, however, is currently occupied with leading Bayer Leverkusen to a CL spot. Who will they replace Van Gaal with in the short term?
Bastian Schweinsteiger feels that teams have 'figured out' how to play Bayern. They are no longer afraid to attack Bayern. This statement is very true; another problem is Van Gaal played fewer players out of position last year than this year. Thus, the team is more unsettled. Anatoliy Tymoschchuk is a midfielder. When will Van Gaal understand that? Diego Contento, who played well prior to his injury should be brought back into the side so that Luis Gustavo can move into midfield and help Schweini.
Hanover is the kind of team that are imposing. The players can bully defenders at the back. Bayern's defenders are the exact kind that can get bullied. Bayern's defence tends to fall apart just the way that Real Madrid's defence fell apart against Barcelona. The trouble is that the Bayern defence falls apart at the hands of sides like Koeln.
Hanover is ahead of Bayern for the first time in history, twice in the same season. This is in one simple word, embarrassing. What will be more embarrassing is if Bayern fails to beat Hanover on Saturday. The game is an away game ontop of all other troubles. Van Gaal has to win this; CL qualification is what is most important currently for Bayern Munich.
Didier Ya Konan fortunately for Breno and Tymo, will not feature for Hanover due to a knee injury. Schweinsteiger will get much needed rest as he is suspended for this game. Toni Kroos will perhaps step into the big shoes of the vice-captain.
Even Philipp Lahm came and called for a tactical change. That didn't happen. Hanover must not be underestimated. They have won fourteen games this season. Only Borussia Dortmund has won more games. Hanover has lost six times this season. Their last match saw them gain a hard-fought three points against St.Pauli. The result was 0-1, thanks to a goal by Christian Schulz.
Prediction: Hanover is the same side that Bayern thrashed, 7-0, last year. Times are different now. The last time Bayern lost to Hanover was in the 2008-09 campaign. They crashed to a single goal by Szabolics Huszti. Hanover will have enough to beat Bayern this time around despite the fact that Bayern has more talented players in each and every position than Hanover.
Final Score: Hanover 1-0 Bayern