Bayern Munich can close the gap on Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund to six points, but will be without James Rodriguez in Hannover on Saturday (kick-off: 3.30pm CET/ 2.30pm GMT/ 9.30am ET).

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James or no James, it’s a daunting prospect for Hannover. The Reds took the lead in their meeting with Mainz last Sunday, but ultimately had to settle for a draw that does their survival hopes few favours. Hannover are only a point better off than rock-bottom Fortuna Düsseldorf, having won just twice all season, and have failed to keep a clean sheet since holding Dortmund to a goalless draw on Matchday 2, with only promoted Düsseldorf and Nuremberg shipping more goals in 2018/19. The absence of suspended defender Oliver Sorg won’t help matters in that regard, but coach Andre Breitenreiter at least has alternatives in Miiko Albornoz, Josip Elez and Felipe. Hendrik Weydandt will feel he’s done enough to keep Bobby Wood on the bench after scoring his third Bundesliga goal against Mainz, meanwhile, but midfielder Linton Maina and forward Ihlas Bebou are major doubts.

Bayern travel north in fine spirits after making light work of Nuremberg last time out. Robert Lewandowski scored twice at the Allianz Arena, with Franck Ribery also on target in a dominant 3-0 success. It’s now two Bundesliga wins on the bounce for the defending champions, who appear to have put an earlier sticky patch – defeat to Dortmund and draws with Freiburg and Fortuna – behind them. Niko Kovac’s promise to keep rotation to a minimum has played its part, while the midfield double pivot of Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka helped Bayern record their first clean sheet since Matchday 4 last weekend. Serge Gnabry is also in tip-top form with two goals and an assist in his last two, meaning the likes of Kingsley Coman and Renato Sanches will likely have to make do with a place on the bench. Arjen Robben, absent for the UEFA Champions League game at Ajax on Wednesday, and James, who is training again following injury, are unavailable. Goretzka picked up a knock against Ajax, and may be replaced by Thiago.

Watch: Bayern breezed past Nuremberg on Matchday 14

Match stats

  • Thomas Müller is on the cusp of his 300th Bundesliga appearance. Mats Hummels and Coman will play their 100th games for Bayern if they feature.
  • Bayern have won each of their last 11 Bundesliga meetings with Hannover.
  • Seven different Bayern players have scored braces in the last nine matches against Hannover in the Bundesliga.
  • There hasn’t been a single draw between Bayern and Hannover in 22 meetings, with Bayern winning on 18 occasions.
  • Lewandowski has now scored more than one goal in 50 Bundesliga games. Only Gerd Müller (87) and Jupp Heynckes (51) have more.
  • Wood, Bebou and Niklas Füllkrug stand on three goals as Hannover’s top scorers this season.

Probable line-ups

Hannover: Esser – Korb, Anton (c), Wimmer, Ostrzolek – Haraguchi, Walace, Schwegler – Asano – Füllkrug, Weydandt
Out: Hübers, (knee) Prib (knee), Sarenren Bazee (concussion)
Doubtful: Bebou (hamstring), Felipe (hamstring), Maina (ill)
Coach: Andre Breitenreiter

Bayern: Neuer (c) – Rafinha, Süle, Boateng, Alaba – Kimmich, Thiago – Gnabry, Müller, Ribery – Lewandowski
Out: James (knee), Tolisso (knee)
Doubtful: Robben (thigh)
Coach: Niko Kovac

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