Keep the pressure high in Nuremberg
Hamburger SV travel to 1. FC Nürnberg on Saturday lunchtime (kick-off 1:00pm CET) for the first away game of the calendar year.
‘Start as you mean to continue’ goes the old saying and HSV will be hoping Sunday’s 3-1 victory over SSV Jahn Regensburg at the Volksparkstadion is a sign of things to come. The shortened ‘Winterpause’, acting more like an international break than the usual 5-week holiday afforded to players in Germany, could end up working in the Rothosen’s favour, as the momentum from the festive period is carried over into the New Year. As it is, Daniel Thioune’s men enter Saturday’s traditional-filled clash with 1. FC Nürnberg at the Max-Morlock-Stadion on a four-game winning streak, and won both of their previous road outings at Darmstadt and Karlsruhe before the Christmas break. Nuremberg offer a similar proposition, mired in mid-table with inconsistent form, but certainly the quality in the squad to trouble every team in the division on their day.
Focus on the hosts
1. FC Nürnberg are one of Germany’s traditional sides, particularly successful in the early years of the game, and until 1987 were the record German champions with nine national titles and four DFB Pokal victories. Since the 1990s, ‘Der Club’ have been something of a yo-yo team, and after a four-year absence, only survived in the Bundesliga for one season after securing promotion in 2018. Fans of the traditional Franconian side were expecting their team to challenge for promotion straight back to the first tier, but were in for a nasty shock, only surviving in the 2. Bundesliga thanks to a 96th-minute Fabian Schleusener winner in the 2. Bundesliga relegation play-off second leg against Ingolstadt in July.
The hangover from the nightmare 2019/20 season has still not quite dissipated. After three managers last season, former HSV coach Dieter Hecking replaced Robert Palikuća as sporting director and appointed 36-year-old Robert Klauss, who for a decade had been part of the youth set-up at RB Leipzig and is in his premier role as first-team manager. Klauss’ team have been inconsistency personified in the current season, recording five wins, four draws and five losses, were only able to win two games in a row once this season, but also haven’t lost two games on the trot. HSV will be looking to change that and hand them their second loss in a row on Saturday, after a 2-0 reverse to Heidenheim on the opening matchday of 2021 sees Nuremberg enter the match in 11th position on 19 points.
Opposition scouting report
Klauss has let his troops play in a 4-2-2-2 or 4-2-3-1 formation for the majority of the season, but will be missing from the sidelines at the weekend after picking up a red card during the loss in Baden-Württemberg. The inconsistencies in form are reflected in the goal tallies, 21 scored and 19 conceded, although Klauss should be commended for the much-improved defensive record, which was FCN’s downfall last campaign. Manuel Schäffler was signed from relegated Würzburg over the summer and the transfer has paid off so far, contributing six goals and three assists, closely followed by fellow striker Felix Lohkemper with four goals and five assists. Two young stars, attacking midfieder Sarpreet Singh on loan from Bayern Munich and winger Robin Hack, have failed to spark into life just yet but will test the Rothosen’s defence on Saturday with their pace and trickery.
Daniel Thioune on Saturday's hosts: "It's a clash between two sides with a lot of tradition. They certainly have the quality to beat every team in this league and a striker who scores goals. They'll do everything to keep the points in Nürnberg."
Trio still missing as Mickel returns for HSV
The final day of 2020 had one last shock for Hamburger SV, as Jan Gyamerah (torn ankle ligaments), Klaus Gjasula (torn MCL in right knee) and Amadou Onana (adductor problems) all injured themselves in the final training session of the year, and are still recovering as Saturday’s trip to Nuremberg comes around. There was positive news for the HSV coaching staff this week, as Tom Mickel was able to fully re-join training for the first time since the end of November, whilst long-term absentee Rick van Drongelen could also participate in large swathes of training with the rest of the squad this week. Holstein Kiel’s loss to VfL Osnabrück on Sunday means that the Rothosen retook top spot in the 2. Bundesliga with the fourth win in a row, moving onto 29 points from 14 games. The top of the table is a crowded affair though, only three points separating the top five and Fortuna Düsseldorf back in contention in fifth after five straight victories.
Nürnberg coach Robert Klauss was the first manager to receive a red card in the 2. Bundesliga this season. He will be replaced on the sidelines by Tobias Schweinsteiger, who was assistant coach at HSV last season.
Saturday’s hosts have won both of their last home games, 1-0 against Aue and 2-1 against Würzburg. The last time they were able to win three home games in a row was 2016, crowned by a 3-1 win over RB Leipzig, who arrived at the Max-Morlock-Stadion as league leaders.
HSV have scored 30 goals so far this season, more than any other team. Simon Terodde has exactly half with 15, no other Hamburg player has more than two!
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