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Mergim Mavraj knows what to expect in Cologne



Mergim Mavraj knows what to expect in Cologne

On Friday night (25.08.17, 8.30 PM) HSV travel to the floodlit Rhein-Energie-Sportpark where they take on Cologne on Bundesliga matchday 2. The game is extra special for Rothosen central defender Mergim Mavraj who played for Friday’s opponents before joining HSV. We spoke to the Albanian international about his current injury, his former club and his role in Markus Gisdol’s team in Hamburg.

Mergim Mavraj left Cologne for HSV eight months ago. Since then he has enjoyed two victories against them playing for HSV in as many games. A lot has happened since then, with the Rothosen once again narrowly avoiding relegation and Mavraj becoming a cornerstone of his new team. HSV boss Gisdol made Mavraj his vice captain with Kyriakos Papadopoulos getting the armband for the new season. He missed the 1-0 season-opening home win over FC Augsburg last Saturday through injury so is more than keen to pull out the stops in order to face his former club on Friday night and extend his two game winning run against them.

In an interview with on Tuesday (22.08) Mavraj discussed his injury, his former club and his role in the HSV team.

Mavraj with Lasogga during training.
Mergim Mavraj resumed first team training on Tuesday. Mergim, you missed out against Augsburg. Why was that?

Mergim Mavraj: I had a dislocated rib which affected my spine and gave me a stiff neck.  

Today you resumed first team training so how are you feeling?

I’m feeling good. After having to sit out training for several days things become more strenuous when you start again. The problem is not completely gone but I am on the right track.

On Friday the Rothosen take on your former club Cologne away from home. How much are you looking forward to it?

I am very much looking forward to the Friday night floodlit atmnosphere. I enjoyed my time there, it was very special. Of course things there have improved since I left which could positively affect the atmosphere. Personally a lot of water has flowed under the bridge since then and we have beaten them twice in two matches which takes a little spice out if for me. I am not thinking too much about it but I am very much looking forward to Friday night. 

So you plan to face them on Friday night?

Yes that of course is my goal. I want to help the team and hope that I will be able to.

Mavraj in an aerial dual against his former team.
100% record: Mavraj has beaten Cologne twice in two games since moving to Hamburg.

What kind of game do you expect on Friday night?

I expect an even game. Cologne know exactly what to expect after all we cfaved them twice last term. They will be determined not to lose to us for a third consecutive time and will be highly-motivated after losing the derby. They will want to give their all in order to prove that the Gladbach defeat was just a flash in the pan. When they have their fans behind them they are ever tighter as a team. They will play with aggression and great togetherness.  

How will HSV deal with that?

We must not be affected by the atmosphere and remain cool. We have proven that we can beat good sides like Cologne. The crowd will be special but then again so is ours week in week out. Our victory over Augsburg regardless of how well we performed gave us confidence. If we believe in and play to our strengths we can take something home from the game and that is how we must approach the game. I think the team who plays the tightest will finish with their nose in front.

You know a lot of Cologne players – are you still in contact with any of them?

I am still in contact with quite a few of them and we wrote to each other a lot before they lost to Gladbach. That contact will take a back seat until after our visit there.

You have been at HSV for eight months and have been appointed vice captain for the new season…

Yes, I might have only been here for that short time but it feels like a lot longer. The last six months were very intense. I came here as the club was struggling so my experience was an important factor. I quickly settled in and was warmly welcomed by the lads Now the new season is upon us and I have even more responsibility.