Killer instinct needed in Würzburg
HSV head to the Flyeralarm Arena for the first time in their history on Sunday.
After two missed chances in successive games Hamburger SV need a win away to Würzburger Kickers on Sunday (kick-off 1:30pm CET) to claw back momentum in the battle for promotion. The unfortunate results against Erzgebirge Aue and Greuther Fürth have left the Rothosen ruing the dropped points, particularly last Saturday missing that killer instinct to finish off 10-man Fürth. A victory is needed to complete the fixtures in February, with the first three fixtures in March being the derby at the Millerntor against St. Pauli, and back-to-back fixtures against fellow promotion rivals Holstein Kiel and VfL Bochum.
Focus on the hosts
Würzburg is a pretty, baroque city in the south of Germany, almost halfway between Nuremberg and Frankfurt in the Lower Franconia region of Bavaria. It is a city more known for its wine than its football team, Würzburger Kickers, who have played in Germany’s second division for two full seasons in total, in 1977/78 and 2016/17, on both occasions being relegated back down to the third tier at the first time of asking. 21 games into their third attempt at staying in the 2. Bundesliga for more than one season, and the signs aren’t good for the Kickers. HSV legend and Würzburg sporting director Felix Magath has managed to get through three different managers already, Michael Schiele and Marco Antwerpen both having been shown the door before Matchday 7 had ended. Former HSV assistant manager Bernhard Trares has fared slightly better and seen an upturn in Würzburg’s fortunes; only four points were taken from the first 13 games, but eight have been taken from the last eight. Unsurprisingly FWK are still rooted to the bottom of the table on 12 points, five behind second-bottom Braunschweig and ten from safety.
Opposition scouting report
Whilst Würzburg have the leakiest defence in the division with 44 conceded in 21, Trares has certainly tidied them up at the back and made them harder to beat, ‘keeper Hendrik Bonmann having to fetch the ball out of the net twelve times in the last eight games. FWK are on a difficult run of fixtures, facing all of the top four one after another, the two most recent games perhaps indicative of their plight. They were much the better team against Greuther Fürth but were drawing 1-1 at half-time; let down by individual errors, poor finishing and some dodgy refereeing decisions in the second half to go down 4-1. Last Friday’s loss to Kiel was similar, battling hard for 90 minutes but undone by a very questionable VAR penalty decision and losing 1-0 at the Holstein-Stadion. Despite their lowly position, Würzburg will be no pushovers on Sunday.
Having brought in 26 players and seen 22 leave over the course of the summer and winter transfer windows, it is maybe unsurprising that Würzburg have struggled, but one of the reasons for the slight upturn in results has been consistency in the starting eleven. Trares has settled on a 4-3-1-2, being narrow and compact without the ball to force their opponents wide, and has named the same eleven for the past three games. Veteran striker Ridge Munsy is also on a good run of form having scored four in his last four, including both against Fortuna Düsseldorf on Matchday 19 to give FWK a surprise victory. The Red and Whites will be hoping to spring a similar shock at the Stadion am Dallenberg on Sunday.
Daniel Thioune on Würzburg: "Since our first meeting with them, a lot has changed. In the last few weeks against promotion candidates they were well in the game and were compact when defending. It could be an interesting encounter."
Options open again for Thioune
After the injury worries of the past few weeks, Daniel Thioune has a bit more breathing space for Sunday’s game, Bakery Jatta and Jeremy Dudziak both recovering by Friday and able to fully train with the rest of the squad, and available for selection from the start on Sunday. The one area of concern for the HSV coaching staff is centre-back, with Stephan Ambrosius having picked up his fifth yellow card of the season last Saturday, having to miss out at the flyeralarm Arena. He is joined on the sidelines by centre-back partner Toni Leistner and Klaus Gjasula, still recovering from their respective knocks. This could open the door for Jonas David to partner Gideon Jung, the 20-year-old having spent the second half of last season on loan at Würzburg, playing a role in their last-gasp promotion from the 3. Liga. Two draws in a row have seen HSV’s lead at the top cut considerably, Bochum and Kiel now tied on points with the Rothosen on 42, and Fürth close behind with 39. HSV lead the league by virtue of goal difference and will need to be more clinical in Lower Franconia, firing a blank last time out against Greuther Fürth at the Volksparkstadion.
Only once before have three teams been tied on the same amount of points after 21 games in the 2. Liga, when Offenbach, Mannheim and Uerdingen were tied in first in 1982/83.
HSV have only one won of their last four games, but are unbeaten in eleven (seven wins, four draws), which is a club record in the 2. Bundesliga.
The goalless draw against Greuther Fürth didn’t fit the pattern, HSV games having provided the most amount of goals in the division this season (71), tied in first position with St. Pauli.
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