Heidenheim final visitors to the Volksparkstadion in 2019
Second meets fourth at the Volksparkstadion on Friday evening, as the Rothosen look to round off the calendar year with a final home win.
Another year at the Volksparkstadion draws to a close with the visit of 1. FC Heidenheim on Friday evening (kick-off 6:30pm CET). A year of contrasting emotions, yet one which has yielded a large number of points at the spiritual home of football in Hamburg, particularly during the current campaign. An average crowd of 48,247 have watched on so far, with the opening game of the season against Darmstadt being the only time that the Rothosen have failed to win at home. However, a slip-up last week away at Osnabrück and a less than emphatic performance against Dresden mean that Dieter Hecking’s men will not be underestimating the task ahead of them, and will be hoping for an improved performance to thank the fans for their support at home over the past year.
Focus on the visitors
Yet that task will be far from easy against a Heidenheim side who, according to Hecking, are ‘one of the most stabile teams in the division.’ The reason for the stability is the relationship between CEO Holger Sanwald and manager Frank Schmidt, a relationship that Sanwald describes as like a ‘football marriage’. When Schmidt took over in September of 2007, the team from the sleepy town with 40,000 inhabitants that sits on the Brenz river, found themselves in the fifth tier of German football in the Oberliga Baden-Württemberg. Sanwald and Schmidt worked within their limited financial means and used their significant abilities on and off the pitch to grow the club from humble beginnings to the second division. Schmidt is unsurprisingly the longest-serving manager in German professional football and has established his side in the second tier since enjoying promotion back in May 2014.
Having collected 55 points in 2018/19, the Red, White and Blues were only one point behind the Rothosen and two off promoted SC Paderborn, and a first-ever trip to the promised land would be of little surprise to the rest of the division, who certainly rate them as dark horses in the promotion charge. After a nervy start to the campaign, Schmidt’s men have begun to gather pace the past few weeks, sweeping aside St. Pauli, Hannover and Greuther Fürth to climb into fourth position on 23 points, six behind the Rothosen.
Schmidt has long been a fan of the classic 4-4-2 system, building from wide positions and set pieces and looking to use the height and power of his front two. The word legend is perhaps overused these days particularly in regards to football, but Marc Schnatterer is certainly fitting of the title when it comes to 1. FC Heidenheim. The 34-year-old has been in Heidenheim almost as long as Schmidt, making 409 appearances since joining from Karlsruhe in July 2008. 122 goals and 121 assists have followed, with the right-winger’s right peg proving particularly dangerous to opposition teams from set pieces during the Brenzstädter’s rise through the German football pyramid. Particularly with Hamburg’s struggles from set pieces a well-known area for improvement, Schmidt is likely to have targeted Schnatterer’s dead-ball expertise as a way of springing a surprise on Friday evening.
The other two main threats in Schmidt’s side are Tim Kleindienst and Niklas Dorsch. Having risen through the ranks at Bayern Munich, Dorsch moved to Heidenheim on a free in July 2018 looking for more game time than was on offer in Bavaria. The 21-year-old quickly established himself as an integral part of Schmidt’s defensive midfield duo, also earning himself a call-up to play alongside Adrian Fein for the German under-21 side. 24-year-old Kleindienst spent a year on-loan in Baden-Württemberg two seasons ago, and, with his chances still limited at parent club SC Freiburg having returned, made the move permanent this summer. The striker has hit the ground running, scoring five and assisting four so far this season, ensuring his position as one of the Red, White and Blue’s biggest attacking threats.
Hinterseer to pass late fitness test as Hunt and Jatta return
Dieter Hecking was fairly certain that Lukas Hinterseer would return to the matchday squad at Thursday’s press conference, after the Austrian had to sit out the past two league games after picking up a thigh knock whilst on international duty. The 28-year-old has been in full training with the rest of the squad since the beginning of the week, and completed a few sprints with athletic coach Daniel Müssig at the end of yesterday’s session. English winger Xavier Amaechi has also recovered from his thigh strain to retake his place on the bench, whilst captain Aaron Hunt’s muscular problems are also no longer restricting him, with both having taken full part in training this week. The coaching staff were also thrilled to invite Bakery Jatta back into the fray after sitting out his two-game suspension for his red card against Holstein Kiel. The team will be looking to get back to winning ways after a sub-par performance last week in Osnabrück, once more putting pressure on league leaders Arminia Bielefeld, who are three points ahead of the Rothosen on 32.
Dieter Hecking on Bakery Jatta: "It's important to have Baka back after his suspension. I think he's really taken a step forward this season in terms of his development, he's been one of our standout players. It helps us enormously to put him back in the lineup."
Hamburg’s last five goals in the second division have all been scored by new signings, the last of which being scored by Sonny Kittel in Osnabrück. No other team has scored as many goals through new signings as HSV this season, with 22.
During their latest 1-0 home win against Greuther Fürth, 1. FC Heidenheim recorded yet another clean sheet, their sixth of the season. Only VfL Osnabrück can match their watertight defence.
Heidenheim are the only team in the league to have not dropped any points after going in front this season.
Where can I watch the game?
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