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02/23/2014
 
European champions Bayern Munich opened a 19-point gap in the Bundesliga on Sunday with a 4-0 victory at Hannover 96 -- their 20th win from 22 league matches.

Bayern coach Pep Guardiola had described the Bundesliga as "pizzas and hamburgers" compared to the "gourmet" of the Champions League in the wake of last Wednesday's 2-0 win at Arsenal in Europe. Their main domestic rivals did little to disprove Guardiola's point as Bayer Leverkusen, Borussia Dortmund and Schalke picked up just a point between them over the weekend.


The Bavarian giants extended their record unbeaten run to 47 Bundesliga matches, dating back to October 2012, to strengthen their iron grip on what will be their 24th German league title, baring a miracle. Having won last season's league title with a record six games to spare, Bayern are on course to break their own best mark.


Hannover offered little resistance as Germany winger Thomas Müller scored twice while attacking midfielder Thiago Alcantara and Croatia striker Mario Mandzukic also netted. There was more good news for both Bayern and Germany as Bastian Schweinsteiger made his first start since November after an ankle, then knee injury, to partner captain Philipp Lahm in the defensive midfield.


Brazil's Rafinha, who took over from Lahm at right-back, strengthened his case for a Selecao place at June's World Cup with two crosses which both led to goals.


Müller set Bayern on the way to their 14th consecutive league win when he headed home Rafinha's cross with 25 minutes gone. Thiago then chested down Schweinsteiger's superb pass and fired home to make it 2-0 after 34 minutes. Müller profited from a Mandzukic pass to get behind the Hannover defense and score his second on 59 minutes, while Mandzukic then headed home Rafinha's cross for Bayern's fourth, seven minutes later.

 
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02/22/2014
 
After Bayern Munich's Pep Guardiola compared the "pizzas and hamburgers" of the Bundesliga to the "gourmet" Champions League, Hanover 96 plan to serve the league leaders an unappetizing display.

"We're preparing the pizzas and the burgers, we'll decide the ingredients," quipped coach Tayfun Korkut as his Hanover side prepare to welcome Guardiola's Bayern for Sunday evening's league clash. "We want to make the pizza very spicy and put a bit of extra mayonnaise on the burger so that Bayern will find it hard to digest."


On Friday, Guardiola described Bayern's 2-0 win at Arsenal on Wednesday in the Champions League as "like a good meal in a nice restaurant. Bundesliga is like every day pizza or hamburgers. "Guardiola has a point. Bayern have rarely been tested in the German league this season, with 19 wins and two draws in 21 matches. They hold a commanding 16-point lead at the top of the table and are on a 46-match unbeaten run dating back to October 2012.


"It's very difficult to be focused for every league match," he lamented. While Guardiola's comments may betray a touch of arrogance, it seems unlikely mid-table Hanover will halt Bayern's run of 10 straight wins. The Bavarians won five titles in 2013 but their appetite shows no sign of being satisfied. "I have to work more," said Guardiola, playing up to his reputation as a workaholic. "I had my break in New York. For me, it is a dream to win something for this club."


Hanover's form has been erratic since Korkut replaced Mirko Slomka, who was fired in December after a run of poor results. The ex-Turkey midfielder led Hanover to consecutive 3-1 wins against high-fliers VfL Wolfsburg and Borussia Moenchengladbach at the start of the year, but his side has since slumped to 2-0 defeats against both Schalke and Mainz.

Nevertheless, the hosts are adamant they can test Bayern's collective stomachs for a tough match.


"We want Munich to experience our gourmet kitchen," said director of sport Dirk Dufner. "We want to be uncomfortable and poisonous. The team will throw everything they have into it." Korkut will be without centre-back Andre Hoffmann, who has a throat infection, but striker Mame Diouf should be fit to play having trained on Friday after a thigh injury.


Guardiola gave the Bayern team Friday off, declaring "the free time is only for their heads" to help prepare for Hanover, but the Spaniard said the champions must maintain their standards. "We have to keep our high level of performance, but we can always improve," he said. "In the next five or six games," Bayern can secure the Bundesliga title, according to Guardiola, whose side are on course to break last season's league record of lifting the title with six games to spare. Bayern will be without injured wingers Franck Ribery and Xherdan Shaqiri, so Arjen Robben is set to start on the left again.

 
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12/10/2013
 

Bundesliga side Hannover 96 have turned to psychological help in a bid to halt their slide down the table and recapture some form. Hannover have dropped to 12th in the league table after winning just one of their last 10 matches including seven away defeats.


"Of course, it's a mental problem when you lose seven games in a row away," said Hannover's general manager Dirk Dufner.


In a bid to break into the top six to guarantee European football next season, Hannover have brought in former club employee and motivation specialist Peter Boltersdorf at the players' request. He has worked with several sports teams, including the German men's handball team which won the 2007 world championships on home soil, but says there is no quick-fix solution.


"You can't solve the problem by just pressing a button, it'll take time," said Boltersdorf with Hannover dropping to 12th after Saturday's 4-2 defeat at VfB Stuttgart. Hannover are home to Nuremberg on Saturday, then away to Freiburg, in their remaining games before the winter break with both teams in the bottom three.

 
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