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Floodlit fascination: HSV open matchday 3 against RB Leipzig

Pre match report

08.09.17

Floodlit fascination: HSV open matchday 3 against RB Leipzig

HSV and RB Leipzig open Bundesliga matchday 3 under the floodlights at the Volksparkstadion in Hamburg on Friday night (08.09.17, 8.30 PM). Both team have enjoyed positive experiences in such matches.

Not only football romantics are fascinated by floodlit games. The drive to the stadium or the walk from the train station becomes special when one sees the brightly lit stadium in the distance, and when you enjoy your well-earned beer after work and the aroma of freshly-grilled Bratwurst hits your nose it all adds to the special occasion. The pitch glows a special kind of green under the lights and the expression “pure football” comes to mind.

Celebratory huddle after the victory over Cologne.
HSV celebrated a superb 3-1 win away at Cologne.

Good Friday night record

The game will be HSV’s second on a Friday night in this still young season. The home game against Champions League participants RB Leipzig opens Bundesliga matchday 3: “It is just amazing to walk out into the Volkspark on a Friday night” admitted keeper Christian Mathenia in an interview earlier in the week. But the stopper is not the only one up for the game. The Rothosen have recently done well in such games and hope to add to their fine record against the controversial visitors. In their last nine Friday night encounters coach Markus Gisdol’s men have managed six wins, one draw and only two defeats. Two weeks ago they caused an upset by winning 3-1 at Cologne and topped the Bundesliga for a night. Gisdol has said that after that win the international break came at the perfect time. Mood swings can be lightning quick in Hamburg as was shown after the disastrous DFB Cup first round loss at third division outfit VfL Osnabrück. But the coach knows: “Our fans are good at assessing the situation.” Club boss Heribert Bruchhagen said: "I don’t believe that our fans expect more it is just written like that in the media."

So feet are being kept well and truly on the ground in Hamburg after the best start to a Bundesliga season for seven years where the Rothosen won both of their opening fixtures. Leipzig respect that impressive start too, especially the HSV record in floodlit gamesloodlit Bundesliga games so far, winning three and recently drew 2-2 in Augsburg. Gisdol: “They have incredible quality and tempo in so many positions in their side.” Leipzig were the surprise package of last season, ending in second place in the table on a sensational 87 points behind champions Bayern Munich. Last season they ominously displayed their ability to with from defence to attack on matchday 3 as they beat the Rothosen 4-0 at the Volksparkstadion: “It will be an interesting clash between two of the best pressing teams in the league. It will be interesting to see who comes out on top." For Gisdol it will be the first meeting with Leipzig during his tenure in Hamburg. In February HSV took dramatic revenge for the dismal 0-4 home defeat by beating Leipzig 3-0 in their own back yard so to speak.

Kyriakos Papadopoulos celebrates scoring in Leipzig.
At the start of February Papadopoulos scored against his former club in a 3-0 HSV victory.

"Many alternatives up top"

Gisdol is not only without long term injured duo Nicolai Müller and Bjarne Thoelke, but also midfield general Aaron Hunt (hamstring) and suspended central defender  Mergim Mavraj for Friday’s clash where a crowd of around 48,000 is expected to attend. Gisdol would not be drawn on his attacking choices but did say: “We have plenty of options in those positions.” His Leipzig counterpart Ralph Hasenhüttl hinted at change because of the load on the shoulders of his international men – especially Emil Forsberg, Naby Keita or right back Lukas Klostermann, who has been ordered to rest following the serious long term injury from last season. Front man Timo Werner who scored twice in Germany’s 6-0 drubbing of Norway at the weekend is expected to start of the game. There are also question marks over the participation of Yussuf Poulsen (adductor) and Marcel Sabitzer (bruised calf. Apart from that small group ) Hasenhüttl is spoilt for choice.

A Leipzig win would see them go level on points with HSV, who for their part could top the table again should they take maximum points – at least overnight. It would also break an age-old record in the process. The Rothosen last won their opening three games at the start of a Bundesliga season way back in the 1974/75 season as victories over Borussia Mönchengladbach (3:1 away), Kickers Offenbach (1:0 home) and Eintracht Frankfurt (3:1 away) saw them riding high. Should Gisdol’s men beat Leipzig it would be the club’s 500th top flight victory. Only Bayern have a better record with 658. Werder Bremen are in second place with 514 wins.

So the stage is set for what promises to be a magical night of top flight football – bring it on!

Possible RB Leipzig line-up: Gulacsi - Bernardo, Orban, Upamecano, Halstenberg - Keita, Demme - Sabitzer, Forsberg - Augustin, Ti. Werner

Referee: Deniz Aytekin (Oberaspach)