Looking to make amends for September slip-up in 103rd Hamburg derby
Fierce rivals St. Pauli are the visitors to the Volksparkstadion on Saturday lunchtime (kick-off 1:00pm CET), as the Rothosen aim to put things right after a 2-0 loss at the Millerntor in September.
The 102nd meeting between Hamburger SV and FC St. Pauli saw the Rothosen enter the game on the back of a four-game winning streak and favourites against Jos Luhukay’s side struggling to find early-season form. Yet it was the team from the Millerntor who sprung a surprise, as goals from Dimitrios Diamantakos and an own-goal from Rick van Drongelen sealed a 2-0 home win for the brown and white side of the Hanseatic city. The equation is fairly similar five months later; the Rothosen find themselves in a promising position with ten points from a possible twelve after the return of competitive action whilst Luhukay’s troops have failed to ignite since the Christmas break, collecting two points from four games.
And whilst Dieter Hecking was willing to accept his team were favourites for the 103rd Hamburg derby, he was quick to extinguish any talk of his charges having been caught napping in the first match-up this season. “I think St. Pauli just played well, especially during the opening exchanges. We made some tactical errors, that we talked about with the players this week,” explained the HSV manager at Thursday’s press conference. Pauli may be fighting against relegation but “we realised in September just how well they can perform. They certainly have less points than the quality in the squad would suggest.” The clear message from the HSV camp in the week leading up to the game was one of wanting to make amends for the September loss but also respecting the quality of the upcoming opponents.
Focus on the visitors
The derby win came in the middle of a four-game unbeaten run in September for the Brown and Whites as it looked like former Hertha Berlin and Sheffield Wednesday manager Luhukay would steer Pauli away from danger and towards a season of mid-table mediocrity or even a promotion push. But injuries and bad individual player form meant the 56-year-old saw his team not win for eight games and slowly slide back into trouble once again. Back-to-back wins just before Christmas against Wiesbaden and Bielefeld eased the pressure on the Dutchman somewhat, but two draws and two losses since the start of the new decade mean the team from the Millerntor enter the derby in 14th place on 23 points, only two points above Karlruhe and Wiesbaden in 16th and 17th respectively. The Brown and Whites have room for improvement on the road, having only picked up four points away from the Millerntor this season, and with no away win in over a year.
Opposition scouting report
Last Friday’s goalless draw against last-placed Dynamo Dresden was particularly symptomatic of the problems Luhukay has encountered since taking over from Markus Kauczinski in April last year. The Brown and Whites created a number of chances, particularly during the opening half an hour but failed to show that cutting edge, particularly now that Mats Møller Dæhli departed in January for Belgian side K.R.C. Genk. Only Ryo Mayaichi on five comes close to Dæhli’s tally of eight assists, showing how much Pauli relied on the diminutive Norwegian.
Dutchman Luhukay prefers to send his team out in a 4-3-3 formation, with experienced campaigner Waldemar Sobota and breakout teenager star Finn Ole Becker usually starting in the central midfield berths. On-loan Brighton winger Viktor Gyökeres has come into his own recently, scoring three and assisting three in his last six appearances, whilst strikers Henk Veerman and Dimitrios Diamantakos have both chipped in with six goals whilst the other one was missing through injury. Although Pauli have been less than potent in their most recent outings, the Rothosen backline will know that the derby has its own set of rules, and the brown and white side of Hamburg will be more than motivated to do the double over the Rothosen and cement their claim to the Hamburg throne.
Dudziak and Fein missing as Rothosen aim to continue good form
Hamburg’s central midfield department had to deal with a second blow in as many weeks last Saturday in Hannover, with Jeremy Dudziak partly tearing his MCL, joining Adrian Fein on the treatment table. 25-year-old Dudziak’s injury was not as serious as first feared and the medical staff expect the former Pauli man to feature again this season, but won’t be seen on the training pitch for the foreseeable future at the very least. Adrian Fein is making a good recovery from his fractured cheekbone but has been advised by the medical staff not to participate on Saturday. With Fein and Dudziak both missing, that gives an opportunity for two of the back-up options in central midfield to step up, with Dieter Hecking keeping his cards close to his chest at Thursday’s press conference as to who would be filling the Dudziak-shaped hole. Jordan Beyer had the flu during the week but was able to take part in training on Thursday and Friday and should be available for selection come Saturday.
With Bielefeld winning and HSV able to snatch a late point in Hannover, Arminia’s lead at the top has stretched out to three points again, heading into Matchday 23 on 44 points. Stuttgart’s win in Bochum mean that VfB are also hot on the Rothosen’s heels, only finding themselves in third place due to an inferior goal difference. Joel Pohjanpalo, who came off the bench once again to head in the 96th-minute equaliser, will be hoping his goals against Bochum and Hannover will have earned him a starting berth as the lone striker, but Dieter Hecking was coy about who would start up front, not letting the journalists know which way he was leaning on Thursday lunchtime.
Dieter Hecking on the derby feeling in the HSV camp: "You can feel that it's derby week here in Hamburg, everything is turned up a notch. It’s not a match like every other one, it's something special. The excitement is certainly there for me. I’m not tense yet but I’m sure I will be a bit tense on Saturday."
St. Pauli have only lost one of their last five match-ups with HSV, securing two draws and two wins in the process. The only loss in that spell was the 4-0 victory for Hamburg at the Millerntor in March 2019.
Hamburger SV have gained 11 points from losing positions this season, the highest total in the league. St. Pauli on the other hand have only gained two points after going behind, joint-lowest in the division with Nuremberg and Wiesbaden.
Hamburg’s Joel Pohjanpalo has scored all ten of his competitive goals for Bayer Leverkusen (8) and HSV (2) off the bench. Five of them were with his head and five were in injury time.
Where can I watch the game?
UK/Ireland: BT Sport 2
Faroe Islands/Finland/Norway/Sweden/Denmark: Viaplay/TV3 Sport/Viasat Football
Netherlands: Fox Sports 4
Poland: Eleven Sports 2
Czech Republic/Slovakia: Digi Sport 2
Greece: Cosmote Sport 7 HD
Israel: Charlton Sport 3
Hungary: Sport 2