Awkward trip to Bavaria to face bogey team Regensburg
Second-placed HSV head to fourteenth-placed SSV Jahn Regensburg Saturday lunchtime (kick-off 1:00pm CEST) to face a team that proved to be less than accommodating when the two sides matched up last season.
HSV’s first Saturday afternoon game of the new campaign sees the Rothosen travel 700km south-east to Regensburg, a team that got the better of the Rothosen at the Continental Arena and the Volksparkstadion last season. After a club-best run of five wins in a row to start the season off, Christian Titz’s men came crashing back down to earth with the worst-ever home defeat in the club’s history, to Saturday’s opponents, SSV Jahn Regensburg. On 23rd September 2018, almost a year to the day, Sargis Adamyan’s first-half hat-trick saw the Bavarian Rothosen race into a 3-0 lead, before goals from Marcel Correia and Jann George sealed a 5-0 home loss for the Hanseatic Rothosen.
The return fixture in February, Hamburg’s last visit to the Continental Arena, was perhaps not quite as embarrassing but equally as unproductive in terms of points gained. David Bates’ first competitive goal for Hamburg saw Hannes Wolf’s charges take an early lead, only for Orel Mangala’s red card to spark a late collapse, with that man Adamyan once again coming back to haunt Hamburg with the equaliser before Marco Grüttner’s late winner. Yet the Hamburg side, and indeed the Regensburg side, that faced off last season have a completely different look about them. In fact of the eleven HSV starters that took to the pitch on the 24th February, only Rick van Drongelen is likely to see action at the Continental Arena this time around. The feeling in the HSV camp could not be more different from February either, with the confidence of the 4-0 home win last time out against Aue seeping through the squad, combined with a determination not to underestimate an opponent and venue that proved tricky for many a team last season, including HSV.
Focus on the hosts
Having said that, the Regensburg team that will most likely take to the field tomorrow lunchtime will have a different look to the side that defied expectations once again last campaign to finish in 8th position. HSV’s nemesis Adamyan upped sticks and signed for Hoffenheim over the summer, whilst his strike partner Hamadi Al Ghaddioui also departed for fellow second division side Stuttgart. Perhaps most crucially of all, manager Achim Beierlorzer was snapped up by promoted Köln, a real blow for the Jahnelf, with the 51-year-old particularly crucial in forming and sculpting Regensburg’s playing style over the previous two campaigns, as the Red and Whites established themselves in the second division, after beating 1860 Munich in a relegation playoff in May 2017.
The Rothosen (Red shorts, the same nickname as HSV) have struggled to recreate last season’s form under Beierlorzer’s successor Mersad Selimbegovic, who has been at the club since 2006, as a player for six years, and a manager of the club’s youth teams since retirement. An opening day 3-1 win over Bochum and 1-1 draw in Hannover showed signs of promise, whilst a 5-0 win on matchday 5 in Wiesbaden did much for the Bavarian’s confidence, yet the other four games of the season have yielded zero points. A 2-1 reverse last Saturday in Dresden saw Selimbegovic’s side slip to 14th on seven points, with a two-point buffer over current relegation playoff candidates Holstein Kiel.
Yet Dieter Hecking will be wary of writing off the Bavarians too quickly, and it is surely only a matter of time before they kick into gear, and show the quality that surprised so many in their two seasons in the second tier to date. Selimbegovic favours a 4-2-2-2 formation, with Jann George, Sebastian Stolze, Marco Grüttner and Erik Wekesser in the four most forward positions. Playing on the right or left wing, Stolze has been particularly effective so far, collecting five assists in four different matches, having already doubled his tally for the whole of the 2018/19 campaign. Captain Marco Grüttner’s strength and hold-up play will certainly be a lot to handle for Rick van Drongelen and Gideon Jung, with the Regensburg striker and captain taking on more of a leadership and goalscoring role in the absence of Adamyan. With a hat-trick to his name, admittedly against lowly Wiesbaden, the HSV defenders will have to keep a close eye on Grüttner if they want to travel back to Hamburg with their fourth clean sheet of the season.
Papadopoulos missing as Hecking looks to carry over momentum from Aue
With Jan Gyamerah, Christoph Moritz and Ewerton still sidelined for the foreseeable future, Dieter Hecking had another injury to deal with this week, with Kyriakos Papadopoulos’ calf stiffening up in training on Thursday, rendering him unavailable for the upcoming clash in Bavaria. Fortunately for Hecking, Timo Letschert has completed a full week of training with the rest of his teammates, and takes the Greek’s place in the matchday squad. Other than the one change of centre-backs, the squad is the same as the one that was named for last Sunday’s contest against Erzgebirge Aue. Debut goals from Josha Vagnoman and Martin Harnik put the Rothosen on their way to a 4-0 victory, meaning that the derby defeat just after the international break was consigned to the history books. Hamburg currently sit in second on 16 points, one point behind leaders Stuttgart and one in front of Arminia Bielefeld, with first and third meeting each other on Friday night in Bielefeld.
Dieter Hecking on the team’s stability: “The team showed a good reaction to the defeat to St. Pauli and didn’t give Aue anything to work with, a team who had started the season well. We don’t want to overplay the importance of it, but we saw that the team coped well with the derby loss and found its feet again quickly. We’re happy the way the squad is looking at this early point in the season, considering we’re still at an early point in the process.”
Jahn Regensburg have already scored 13 goals in seven second division games, a club record in the 2. Liga at this point of the season.
Ten of Hamburg’s 17 goals so far this season have been scored by new signings – the highest mark in the second tier.
Lukas Hinterseer has already been involved in five goals inside seven second division games, with three goals and two assists. It took him eleven games to reach this mark for Ingolstadt, fourteen for VfL Bochum.
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