Road specialists Osnabrück make trip to Volksparkstadion
VfL Osnabrück are the next visitors to Hamburg on Monday night (kick-off 8:30pm CET) for the final clash of Matchday 16.
The visit of VfL Osnabrück to the Volksparkstadion on Monday night means a meeting with familiar faces on both sides. HSV coaching duo Daniel Thioune and Merlin Polzin made the move from Lower Saxony in July to take up the vacant managerial roles at HSV, followed a few months later by utility man Moritz Heyer. They will certainly be pleased to meet up with their old colleagues once again, with Thioune especially having been a boyhood fan, a player and then a manager for the club’s academy and first team. Thioune’s successor, Marco Grote, is also returning to a former haunt, having been a HSV player from 2000 to 2004, playing 139 games for the Rothosen’s second team before starting his managerial career as the team’s assistant coach. Sentiments will be put aside come kick-off, when both will be fighting hammer and tongs for the three points.
Focus on the visitors
After eight consecutive years in the 3. Liga, Daniel Thioune secured promotion back to the 2. Bundesliga with the third division title in 2018/19. The first season back in the second tier was unsurprisingly inconsistent for a promoted team; starting the season strongly, falling away in the Rückrunde before powering home to a secure 13th-placed berth come the end of the season. Thioune upped sticks, as did star striker Marcos Álvarez and the aforementioned Heyer, and many were expecting the ‘second season syndrome’ to strike, particularly with Grote inexperienced in the first-team manager role.
Yet, like last season, the Purple and Whites continue to confound the sceptics and find themselves comfortably in mid-table coming into Matchday 16. Grote’s side have been particularly impressive away from the Bremer Brücke, winning four of their last five, and sit in third position in the away table going into the matchday, a point above their hosts on Monday night. Sitting in 11th place before the game on 22 points in the overall table, travelling home from Hamburg with any kind of points would improve VfL’s position in the packed midfield of the 2. Bundesliga table.
Opposition scouting report
As is the way with teams in the midfield area of the second division, Osnabrück have been in scintillating form on occasions, whilst also producing nightmare performances. The Purple and Whites seem particularly susceptible at home, conceding four to Nürnberg and handing Würzburger Kickers a second win of the season last Saturday at the Bremer Brücke. Their mid-table position is reflected in their goal difference, 20 scored with 21 conceded, fairly average on both counts. The dangerman for VfL is undeniably Sebastian Kerk, signed in the summer on a free from Nürnberg and bursting into life with the responsibility given to him by Grote as the team’s main playmaker. The 26-year-old has been particularly deadly from set-piece situations, two of his seven goals being beautifully curled long-range free-kicks, and his dead-ball delivery also helping him to five assists, something the HSV backline will have to be wary of.
Daniel Thioune on his former team: "VfL are going to ask a lot of us tomorrow. They will also likely spring a few surprises with their starting line-up, whether that's personnel or formation. For us it's important to implement our plan and be energetic on the pitch."
Onana in contention as Thioune seeks winning formula
A draw away at the Max-Morlock-Stadion is certainly nothing to be embarrassed about, but the lack of creative spark in the second half from the Rothosen was a topic of conversation for the HSV coaching staff this week. The four-game winning run came to an end in Nuremberg, but Monday’s hosts are still unbeaten in five, and with 30 points in the bank, are only two behind league leaders Bochum going into the clash. The Rothosen have another weapon at their disposal to head back to the summit with Amadou Onana, who was able to fully take part in training again from Thursday onwards, Daniel Thioune confirming at Sunday’s pre-match press conference that the Belgian is an option in midfield. Klaus Gjasula (knee), Jan Gyamerah (ankle) and Rick van Drongelen (ACL) all continue to miss out.
The 3-2 loss to Würzburger Kickers on the previous matchday was Osnabrück’s fourth home loss in a row, their worst run at the Bremer Brücke in 2. Liga history. However, VfL’s current tally of 22 points from 15 games is their best total for 28 years at this level.
Whilst being on a historically bad run at home, the Purple and Whites have won four of their last five away games, and have more than twice as many points on the road (15) than at home (7).
Simon Terodde has scored at least one goal against 17 of the 18 current members of the 2. Bundesliga; the team missing from his list is VfL Osnabrück. The 32-year-old has only played against VfL once before, providing an assist for Torsten Mattuschka in the first round of the DFB Pokal in 2013 whilst at Union Berlin.
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