FIRED UP FOR SEASON RESTART
HSV BEGIN THE SECOND HALF OF THE 2017/18 BUNDESLIGA CAMPAIGN AWAY AT FC AUGSBURG. IN ADDITION TO A NEW NUMBER ONE, THERE COULD BE A FEW MORE CHANGES TO THE STARTING XI.
By the time the action gets underway between HSV and FC Augsburg at 15:30 CET on Sunday afternoon, exactly 689 hours and a few minutes will have passed since full time in our last Bundesliga outing against Borussia Mönchengladbach at the end of 2017. Since then we’ve celebrated Christmas and New Year, but one can be forgiven for feeling the winter break was unusually short. The reduced break hasn’t dented HSV’s motivation for the second half of the season, however: “It’s great. The weekend boredom is finally over and it’s all kicking off again,” expressed Markus Gisdol at his press conference this week ahead of the Bundesliga restart. The goal for HSV is simple: pick up as many points as possible, as quickly as possible, to drag ourselves out of 17th place. “It’s going to be a really tough second half of the season. None of the teams around us in the table are going to make a huge break away. Therefore we need to claim every single point that we possibly can. With everything we have,” the head coach elaborated.
POLLERSBECK BETWEEN THE STICKS
The foundations for our 2018 onslaught were laid during the eight-day training camp in the Spanish city of Jerez de la Frontera. In addition to high intensity sessions on the training pitch, the squad players that have struggled for minutes in recent months had two friendlies (2-1 vs. Malaga and 1-1 vs. Freiburg) to stake their claim for a starting berth in 2018. Among those was Julian Pollersbeck, whose impressive performance have led to Markus Gisdol naming him HSV’s number one goalkeeper – a decision that was communicated to both Pollersbeck and now second-choice keeper Christian Mathenia after training on Friday. Pollersbeck will make his long-awaited debut for the Rothosen against Augsburg. Last season the U21 European Champion conceded 27 goals in 31 games for Kaiserslautern, keeping 14 clean sheets and stopping 75% of shots faced. Now he needs to deliver similar performances in the top flight.
Like the 23-year-old goalkeeper, the likes of Vasilije Janjicic (19) and Sejad Salihovic (33) also impressed, giving them a good chance of being included in this weekend’s starting XI. Sadly both Albin Ekdal (ankle) and Lewis Holtby (knee) we ruled out with injuries earlier this week. These two aside, however, the squad is in good physical condition – an important building block for a successful second half of the season, according to Gisdol. With that in mind, the head coach is expecting a significant improvement in performance from some of his regular starters. This will help the younger players grown and add their contribution to helping the team achieve its goals.
Possible FC Augsburg line-up: Hitz - Opare, Hinteregger, Gouweleeuw, Max - Khedira, D. Baier - Koo, Gregoritsch, Caiuby - Cordova
Unavailable: Danso (Individual training), Thommy (Individual training), Finnbogason (Cold and achilles)
Referee: Manuel Gräfe (Berlin)