Hannover are back after a very underwhelming 2020/21 season, a 13th placed finish was very disappointing. New coach Jan Zimmermann will have high expectations from club president Martin Kind, how will he fare?
Manager: Jan Zimmermann
Founded: 12 April 1896; 125 years ago
Nickname(s): Die Roten (The Reds)
Pre-season start: June 21st
Training camp: July 5th to 10th in Rotenburg
Friendlies: June 26: FC St. Pauli 0:2, June 30: Viktoria Berlin 1:0, July 3: SC Paderborn 1:1, July 10: DSC Arminia Bielefeld 0:1, July 14: Hertha BSC 4:4, July 17th: 1. FC Magdeburg 2:4
Hannover haven't had an easy friendly schedule and while they've lost to St. Pauli, Arminia Bielefeld and 1. FC Magdeburg, the key of pre-season is to be ready for the season and after many tough opponents they should be prepared and fit.
Summer signings and departures
Additions: Jannik Dehm (Holstein Kiel), Lawrence Ennali (own U19) , Sebastian Kerk (VfL Osnabrück), Sebastian Stolze (Jahn Regensburg), Sebastian Ernst (SpVgg Greuther Fürth), Ron-Robert Zieler (1. FC Köln, loan ends ), Leo Weinkauf (MSV Duisburg, loan ends), Tim Walbrecht (SV Wehen Wiesbaden, loan ends)
Departures: Timo Hübers (1. FC Cologne), Michael Esser (VfL Bochum), Genki Haraguchi (1. FC Union Berlin), Josip Elez (end of contract), Niklas Tarnat (end of contract), Marlon Sündermann (end of contract), Michael Ratajczak (end of career ), Kingsley Schindler (1. FC Köln, loan ends), Jaka Bijol (CSKA Moscow, loan ends)
Hannover haven't been particularly busy in the window but the few signings they've made has been smart business. Jannik Dehm from Kiel on a free-transfer is a great move, a 25-year-old who shone for Ole Werner's side and still has potential to grow.
Sebastian Kerk from relegated VfL Osnabrück is another great signing, the attacking midfielder was a shining light in what was a very dark time for Osnabrück last season and the 45 thousand euro pricetag seems extremely cheap for an already-accomplished 2. Bundesliga player who also has 50 matches of Bundesliga experience.
First six matches
Matchday 1 - vs Werder Bremen (A), Saturday 25th July, 20:30 local
Matchday 2 - vs Hansa Rostock (H), Saturday 31st July, 13:30 local
Matchday 3 - vs Dynamo Dresden (A), Saturday 14th August, 20:30 local
Matchday 4 - vs Heidenheim (H), Friday 20th August, 18:30 local
Matchay 5 - vs SV Darmstadt 98 (A), Saturday 28th August, 13:30 local
Matchday 6 - vs St. Pauli (H), Saturday 11th September, 13:30 local
The loss of Genki Haraguchi is massive and if he was still at Hannover he'd be the obvious choice. However, I think the key player for Hannover this season will be Marcel Franke. He's the new captain for H96 and will need to use his leadership. It's true that Hannover needs to improve, and this season they've brought in a lot of good individual players. Franke needs to build this team to be a team on the pitch and if that happens, Hannover could be up there.
It's tough to judge how Jan Zimmermann will set his Hannover team up because his former jobs have been with considerably worse clubs and with worse players. The ability gap will be something to think about, but I think he will continue with his 4-2-3-1 formation. It allows the wingers to press high and the two holding midfielders to be everywhere in the midfield. What's also good about playing 4-2-3-1 is that there's an attacking midfielder position and they usually get to roam wherever they want to on the pitch, dropping into holes and finding pockets of space.
I've watched Hannover already when Paderborn played them at the HDI-Arena in a friendly game and watch out for their press. They press extremely well.
The writer's opinion
Hannover 96 are a tough team to think about. They're difficult to gauge. On the one hand, they've pressed the reset button and brought in a new, innovative coach. On the other hand, they've lost their best player in Genki Haraguchi. They're in the same bracket as Karlsruhe and Fortuna Düsseldorf for me. They'll improve from last season, they can't be as bad as last season, surely. But they aren't good enough to properly challenge yet.
Writer's prediction: 8th