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Glimmer of hope heading into final home game of the season

SV Sandhausen are the final visitors to the Volksparkstadion in the 2019/20 season, with the Rothosen retaining slim hopes of securing the promotion play-off spot.

A long and topsy-turvy season draws to a close on Sunday (kick-off 3:30pm CET), as HSV aim to beat Sandhausen at the Volksparkstadion and hope for a favourable result in Bielefeld, with the Rothosen still having an outside chance of making third and the promotion play-off spot. Last Sunday’s gut-wrenching, last-minute defeat in Heidenheim meant that the Brenzstädter overtook Hamburg for the first time this season and have their fate in their own hands heading into the final matchday of the 2019/20 2. Bundesliga season. Frank Schmidt’s side lie on 55 points, one ahead of HSV, meaning a win for FCH in Bielefeld will secure the Swabians the possibility of playing in the Bundesliga for the first time in the club’s history. Anything less than a win, and the door is left ajar for the Rothosen, who have the advantage of a far superior goal difference (20 to 12), and have to better their competitor’s result to stand any chance of extending their season by two games.

Focus on the visitors

Lying deep in the heart of Baden-Württemberg near to the attractive university town of Heidelberg, SV Sandhausen were largely insignificant in German football for the majority of their existence, plying their trade in the amateur leagues and Oberliga Baden-Württemberg during the 20th Century. Around 15 years ago, the club began to become more professional and worked within its modest means to slowly rise up the German football pyramid, beginning to rival traditional clubs in the area such as Waldhof Mannheim and Darmstadt. Since being promoted to the second tier in 2012, the Hardtwälder have consistently been written off as relegation candidates, given their small budget and knack of giving unproven managers their first taste of second division football. 

Uwe Koschinat has guided his side to safety yet again this season, thanks to what has become a trademark late-season push. Sitting two places above the relegation zone on Matchday 27, Sandhausen went on a four-match unbeaten run, defeating Hannover 96 and drawing to table toppers Arminia Bielefeld along the way. The late spurt saw the team rise as high as 10th in the table, securing their spot in the second tier for another season. Results have understandably dropped off since, with a 5-1 thrashing at Stuttgart preceding an embarrassing 1-0 loss last time out to basement boys Dynamo Dresden. Sitting in 12th on 40 points, and with St. Pauli and Osnabrück only a point behind them, Koschinat will be impressing on his charges the need to finish strongly, as final position in the league table has a large influence on the distribution of TV money in the offseason.

Opposition scouting report

The departure of creative force Philipp Förster to VfB Stuttgart last summer was a huge loss for Koschinat and one that Sandhausen have struggled to deal with. As an attacking unit, only last-placed Dresden have scored less than SVS’ tally of 38 and since Förster’s departure, the goalscoring burden has rested on the shoulders of 29-year-old striker Kevin Behrens. 6-foot Behrens has been involved in half of Sandhausen’s goals so far this campaign, scoring twelve himself and assisting seven more. The triangle at the top of the 3-4-1-2 is completed by attacking midfielder Julius Biada and Robin Scheu, with Biada’s upturn in form corresponding with Sandhausen’s vital four-match unbeaten streak, meaning the Rothosen will be aiming to keep him and Behrens quiet come Sunday.

Whilst not so potent going forward, Koschinat’s success has been based on a rock-solid defence, with his charges comfortably in the top half of the table when it comes to goals conceded, and the 48-year-old has his side well drilled when it comes to both defending and attacking set pieces. Sandhausen have been particularly strong at the Hardtwald-Stadion and less impressive on the road, with the key to success for the Rothosen being to attack the relatively old three at the back with pace, as displayed to them by Stuttgart in their 5-1 trouncing of Sunday’s visitors just over a week ago.

Letschert out as Ewerton nears return

Timo Letschert damaged his knee in training on Thursday, and will be unavailable for Sunday’s game, as well as any possible play-off matches. With the Dutchman ruled out and Jordan Beyer suspended due to seeing his fifth yellow card last Sunday, the Hamburg coaching staff are likely to return to a back four after experimenting with a back three last Sunday in Heidenheim. Centre-back Ewerton has been a part of team training for the last week and a half, but given his previous experience this season rushing back too quickly and injuring himself again, it is deemed unlikely that Hecking will turn to the Brazilian on Sunday. Other than the two defenders, the squad is at full strength, as 55-year-old Hecking once again has difficult decisions to make on who makes the starting XI as well as the squad. Simply put, the Rothosen need to better Heidenheim’s result in Bielefeld for a chance to take part in the promotion play-off and end the season in a positive fashion.

Matchday facts

HSV have only recorded two wins since the restart and are in 11th position with 10 points in the post-corona table. The Rothosen have also conceded the fourth-most amount of goals in that time. 
Since the restart, Hamburg have lost twice after leading, something which didn’t happen in the previous 25 matchdays. Dieter Hecking’s side have lost 20 points from winning positions this season.
SV Sandhausen will finish their eighth consecutive season in the 2. Liga on Sunday against HSV. The Black and Whites have never won on the final matchday in the 2. Liga, with four draws and three losses. 

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