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Tough task away in Karlsruhe

HSV look to continue their positive start to the season away at Karlsruhe, who have themselves started promisingly, winning three of their first four games. Dieter Hecking’s men will know that a tough game awaits them at the Wildparkstadion, the scene of a famous meeting between the two sides four years ago. 

Look back at the 1st June 2015 and the emotions on show for the Karlsruhe and HSV fans could not be more contrasting. For the last time that these teams met at the Wildparkstadion, it wasn’t just any old game, it was the second leg of the 2015 Bundesliga relegation play-off. With Karlsruhe having just missed out on automatic promotion to SV Darmstadt 98, they entered the tie against the Hamburg side, who had saved themselves the year before at the same stage against Greuther Fürth. 

The side from Baden could perhaps have felt hard done by a 1-1 draw at the Volksparkstadion, with top scorer Rouwen Hennings passing up a number of chances. Reinhold Yabo’s 72nd minute strike in the second leg had looked to be sending Karlsruhe back to the Bundesliga, and confirm Hamburg’s first ever relegation from the top flight. In the 90th minute, referee Manuel Gräfe awarded a free-kick to Hamburg right on the edge of the home side’s D, a contentious decision that to this day still makes the blood boil of everyone associated with KSC. Marcelo Diaz stepped up and curled an effort straight into the top left-hand corner, sending the game into extra-time, with Nicolai Müller’s winner soon after once again confirming Hamburg’s last-gasp stay in the first division. 

Focus on the hosts

A mere two years later and Karlsruhe had been relegated to the third tier for only the second time in the club’s history, a rapid turnaround considering Markus Kauczisnki’s side were merely seconds away from the top flight. Alois Schwartz was installed as manager in August 2017 after a dreadful start to the campaign, and managed to steady the ship, eventually guiding KSC to a third-place finish and a play-off against Erzgebirge Aue. Current HSV under-21 manager Hannes Drews got the better of Schwartz on that occasion, confining Karlruhe to a second consecutive season in the 3. Liga. Schwartz’s managerial prowess shone through during his full first season in charge, as Karlsruhe finished in second position behind VfL Osnabrück to secure promotion back to the second tier at the second time of asking.

The momentum from last campaign has been carried over into the new one, with an opening day 2-1 win away at fellow promoted side Wehen Wiesbaden followed up by an impressive 4-2 win over Dynamo Dresden at the Wildparkstadion. A 2-0 cup success over Hannover 96 was yet more evidence of the side’s quality, before the first loss of the season last time out away at Holstein Kiel.


Alois Schwartz’s side play in a classic 4-4-2 formation, looking to find their front men early and break with pace before finishing clinically. The strike duo of Marvin Pourié and Anton Fink proved too lethal for many 3. Liga defences in 2018/19, with Pourié grabbing 22 goals and 3. Liga all-time top scorer Fink adding 15 of his own. With Fink having been replaced by new signing Philipp Hofmann, the Hamburg defence will have to be wary of the attacking firepower that the home side possess, with both strikers having both already opened their accounts for the new campaign. 

Able to hold the ball up and bring others into play, Karlsruhe have had no problems with creating chances thus far, and, when given the chance, Pourié and Hofmann will not deliberate before accepting, scoring seven goals from a total of 28 chances, the best conversion rate in the league. Late runs into the box from Marvin Wanitzek should also not go unnoticed, and the midfield dynamo provided 6 goals and 7 assists from central midfield last season, whilst simultaneously running the show for Schwartz in midfield. The former Stuttgart man has already added four assists to his tally this season, with three of those coming in the league.

Location: Wildparkstadion

Located in Baden-Württemberg in the south-west of Germany, Karlsruhe’s home stadium is currently undergoing something of a facelift, meaning that the stadium’s capacity is severely reduced. In October 2018, the final decision was met by the Karlsruhe board to go ahead with the planned restructuring of the stadium. The athletics track which currently sits between the stands and the playing field will slowly be removed, stand-by-stand, with temporary stands also being erected at different parts of the stadium during different phases of the rebuild to ensure that the stadium’s capacity doesn’t dip under 15,000. If all goes to plan, the Wildparkstadion should have been turned into a 35,000-capacity football stadium by May 2022, costing the club some €123m. There shall be 15,000 fans packed into the stadium today, with 1,580 of those wearing Hamburg colours.

HSV head into clash without Hunt but with momentum

HSV club captain Aaron Hunt continues to recover from his knock sustained in training, whilst long-term injury candidates Timo Letschert and Ewerton are still sidelined. Christoph Moritz was this week added to the injury list, having broken his collarbone in training, and was successfully operated on during the week. Jonas David joins the squad having played for the club’s under-21 side away at Weiche Flensburg on Friday night. 

Squad: Heuer Fernandes, Mickel, Papadopoulos, van Drongelen, Leibold, Gyamerah, Jung, Narey, Jatta, Hinterseer, Kittel, Kinsombi, Amaechi, David, Fein, Dudziak, Wood, Samperio, Vagnoman, Wintzheimer

The Rothosen head into the clash gaining confidence, with a solid if unspectacular start to the season. After a whole host of comings and goings at the Volksparkstadion over the new summer, with Tatsuya Ito becoming the 17th departure on Thursday with his move to VV St. Truiden, new manager Dieter Hecking has managed to fuse his charges together in little time. An opening day draw against Darmstadt, was followed up by a thumping win in Nuremberg, an edgy penalty win over Chemnitz in the cup, and a deserved, if close, victory last time out against Bochum.

Manager Hecking’s thoughts on today’s clash: Karlsruhe have started the season strongly, and carried some of that euphoria from their promotion into the new season. They are a strong team, run hard for their manager and are dangerous from set pieces. But we have also started well and confidence is growing week-by-week.

Fun facts

#1 First ever meeting between the two teams in the second division - Karlsruher SC and HSV have met 48 times in total in the top flight, with HSV coming out on top 17 times, KSC 13 times and the other 18 games ending with no winner. Hamburg’s record in Karlsruhe is, however, not as positive. The extra-time win in 2015 was the first victory at the Wildpark in five attempts, with three defeats and one draw preceding Nicolai Müller’s famous winner. 

#2 Dieter Hecking enjoys playing KSC - During his long career as a manager, he has played Karlsruhe eight times, winning on five occasions and only losing twice. The man from Castrop-Rauxel has not got a better record against any other opponent.

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