Football: Bayern wary of 'tough' Hanover trip as Shakhtar loom

Bayern Munich, fresh from reaching the German Cup quarter-finals, tune up for next week's finely-balanced Champions League tie with a trip to Hanover on Saturday.

Pep Guardiola's men host Shakhtar Donetsk next Wednesday in the Champions League last 16 return leg, a fortnight after the first leg in Ukraine ended 0-0.

While goals were absent in Lviv, it's been an altogether different story on the domestic front, with 20 goals in their last four Bundesliga run outs.

February wins against Stuttgart (2-0), Hamburg (8-0), Paderborn (6-0) and last weekend's 4-1 defeat of Cologne have seen Bayern go eight points clear of Vfl Wolfsburg at the top of the Bundesliga.

If the match goes according to the form book and Bayern brush aside a Hanover team that is winless in 2015 then it will mark a personal milestone for Arjen Robben.

If the 31-year-old Dutch international makes an appearance he will have established a new Bundesliga record for a player of 100 wins in only 126 games.

Despite the apparent gulf in class Bayern midfielder Sebastian Rode is not anticipating an easy ride.

"It's going to be tough," he told Hanover's official website.

"They (Hanover) are in a bad run of form at the moment but have lots of quality in their ranks. We need to concentrate throughout the game and give it our all."

With Shakhtar looming, Guardiola may well tinker with his team line-up.

Like Bayern, Borussia Dortmund are also through to the Cup last eight and have a Champions League last 16 second leg against Juventus later this month.

Bottom of the table at the start of the month, Dortmund have climbed to 10th after four consecutive wins.

They are on the road at a Hamburg side hovering precariously one point above the relegation zone.

Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp will likely be without star player Marco Reus, who had to come off after 25 minutes of Tuesday's Cup win with a bruised knee.

Despite their progress Klopp this week dismissed talk of sealing Champions League qualification next season.

"As things stand, we have absolutely nothing to do with the international places, they really don't interest me," said Klopp in midweek.

"We need to focus on the essentials (staying in the Bundesliga)."

Wolfsburg are flying high and cemented their place as Bayern's nearest rivals with a 5-3 success over Werder Bremen last weekend.

Wolves' resurgence is in large part thanks to Dutch striker Bas Dost, who has contributed nine goals in his last four league games.

Wolfsburg, away to Augsburg, are a yawning 10 points clear of third-placed Borussia Moenchengladbach, who are at Mainz.

Fixtures (1430 GMT unless stated)


Vfb Stuttgart v Hertha Berlin (1930)


Augsburg v Vfl Wolfsburg, Schalke 04 v Hoffenheim, Freiburg v Werder Bremen, Hanover 96 v Bayern Munich, Hamburg v Borussia Dortmund, Mainz v Borussia Moenchengladbach (1830)


Cologne v Eintracht Frankfurt (1530), Paderborn v Bayer Leverkusen (1730)