High-flying Storks await Rothosen in Kiel
Matchday 7 concludes in the 2. Bundesliga with HSV’s trip to third-placed Holstein Kiel on Monday night (8:30pm CET).
Hamburger SV have their work cut out to enter the second international break of the season unbeaten, facing a difficult away trip to Holstein Kiel on Monday evening. With a 10-day break after the Hamburg derby, the next game against another northern opponent is on the horizon, the Rothosen making the 95km trip up the coast to the Holstein-Stadion. The Storks have proven to be something of a bogey team for HSV since their return to the second tier, winning both encounters in the 2018/19 season and drawing both games last campaign. Add to that a team brimming with confidence that has raced out of the blocks this season and it all points towards a demanding match-up on Monday night.
Focus on the hosts
The Storks returned to the 2. Bundesliga for the first time since 1981 in the 2017/18 season, under current Darmstadt manager Markus Anfang, almost achieving back-to-back promotions, only being denied by Wolfsburg in the relegation play-off. Kiel have been able to establish themselves in the division in the two seasons since, handing the reins to 32-year-old Ole Werner last September, a man who has been part of the Kiel set-up since 2013 and is one of the rising stars of the German management circuit. Momentum slipped away at the end of last season, ending up in 11th place on 43 points, but Werner and his charges have certainly made up for it, starting the new campaign with three wins, two draws and one loss to sit in third place in the table heading into Monday night’s clash.
Opposition scouting report
Some comfort may be provided by the recent form of the Storks, who lost their last home game 3-1 to Greuther Fürth and drew 1-1 in Aue last Saturday, playing for 75 minutes with 10 men after Phil Neumann’s sending off. Werner has relied on a watertight defence to start the season strongly, having only conceded two goals in five games, the three Fürth strikes aside. The attacking unit has been by no means prolific with seven goals in six games, but highly efficient and very well drilled.
Werner prefers a 4-1-4-1 system, Jonas Meffert sitting just in front of the back four and an interchangeable midfield and forward line in front of him. Alexander Mühling is surpisingly at the top of the scoring charts for the Storks with three, followed by Janni Serra with two and two own goals to add to the mix. Stats can sometimes be misleading, and whilst new signing Fin Bartels and forward Jae-Sung Lee are yet to notch a goal or assist between them this season, the pair have been instrumental in creating chances whilst also systematically pressing the opposition when out of possession. Bartels picked up a knock against Aue so will be missing on Monday, but fellow new signing Joshua Mees, who played a role in Union Berlin’s promotion from the second tier in 2018/19 and is ready to make his mark in the 2. Bundesliga, will be ready to fill in.
Only van Drongelen missing as Thioune can again call on key players
After a hectic schedule at the end of October, Daniel Thioune for one will have been glad for the ten-day break between the 2-2 derby draw and Monday’s game in Kiel, giving him and his players time to collect themselves and go again for the last game before the international break. This is also true for a number of members of the squad who were returning from injuries, and the break in intensity will have served them well too. As such only Bakery Jatta (adductor tear) and Rick van Drongelen (torn ACL) had individual sessions with rehab coach Sebastian Capel this week, and Jatta has recovered in time to take part on Monday, giving the coaching staff some selection headaches to deal with. Thioune said at Sunday's pre-match press conference, "a real pat on the back for the medical department, as only Rick [van Drongelen] is missing for tomorrow. It will be difficult to choose a squad." The Rothosen’s winning run came to an end last time out against St. Pauli, but still sit in first position on 16 points from a possible 18, and will be hoping to add to their tally before a well-deserved two-week rest.
Thioune on how his team approach the game: "We have a lot of options in our squad, we want to be as unpredictable as possible. When an opponent has found a way to combat our playing style, it's our job to find a solution to that and adapt."
Holstein Kiel are something of a bogey team for HSV, unbeaten in all four of their matches in the 2. Bundesliga against the Rothosen, and are the only team in the Bundesliga or 2. Bundesliga that HSV have played at least four times, and failed to beat once.
Thus the last competitive win for the Rothosen against Kiel was in August 2007, a 5-0 DFB Pokal win against Kiel, who at that point were plying their trade in the Oberliga.
HSV cannot be happy with its record against its northern rivals Kiel and Pauli since joining the 2. Bundesliga in the summer of 2018, its last win against either coming at the Millerntor in April 2019. In the three-way battle since the start of the 2018/19 season, Kiel have 17 points, Pauli 11 and HSV a meagre 7.
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