Rothosen raring to go in Fürth after prolonged lay-off
HSV travel to Franconia on Saturday lunchtime (kick-off 1:00pm CET) for their third game of the 2. Bundesliga season.
A postponed home match against Aue and the international break result in Hamburger SV’s third match of the 2. Liga campaign coming three weeks later than planned, away to Greuther Fürth. And it is imperative that the Rothosen hit the ground running in Franconia, with a packed schedule of matches awaiting Daniel Thioune’s team in the coming weeks. The duel in Bavaria is followed by a trio of home fixtures, Aue and Würzburg following within seven days before the Hamburg Derby against St. Pauli on Friday 30th October. Thioune has multiple injuries to deal with in his squad, and will be hoping that a number of key players will be able to return to action at some point over the next two-week period, as the Rothosen aim to build up a head of steam in the upper echelons of the 2. Bundesliga table.
Focus on the hosts
Having taken over the helm at the Sportpark Ronhof Thomas Sommer in February 2019, 43-year-old Stefan Leitl is slowly moulding SpVgg Greuther Fürth into his image. The Shamrocks fell away slightly at the end of the 2019/20 season particularly post-lockdown, but still finished in a respectable 9th position on 44 points, a very even season containing eleven wins, eleven draws and twelve losses. In his second full season in charge, Leitl is looking to start an assault on the upper third of the 2. Bundesliga table, getting his team to play attractive, passing football, whilst also combining it with a high-energy pressing game when the opposition are in possession. The start to the 2020/21 season has been very even for the Green and Whites, three points collected thanks to draws at home to Osnabrück and away to Aue and newly promoted Würzburg. Leitl will be hoping to kick the season into gear with the scalp of the Rothosen on Saturday.
Opposition scouting report
The holder of Germany’s coveted ‘Fußball-Lehrer’ management qualification has also been using the summer to work on his team’s tactical flexibility, having used a 4-3-1-2 in the first home fixture of the season against Osnabrück, before utilising a 3-4-1-2 in the two following away games. Whether these are different set-ups for home and away games or adapted to the opponent remains to be seen after only three games of the new season. In his pre-match press conference, Leitl indicated that they may go into the game with a similar mentality to an away fixture: “We’re the outsider in this game and have nothing to lose, these are bonus games for us.”
Leitl has also been able to significantly reduce the age of his starting eleven over the summer, the back three in Würzburg comprising two 20-year-olds (Maximilian Bauer and Abdourahmane Barry) and a 22-year-old (Paul Jaeckel). 19-year-old forward Jamie Leweling is also one of Greuther Fürth’s prized, young assets, making the breakthrough into the first team last season and displaying the attributes at his disposal by bursting past Würzburg defender Frank Ronstadt to lay the first goal on for fellow striker Branimir Hrgota before the international break. Hrgota himself has assumed more responsibility this season, taking on the captain’s armband and picking the ball up in deeper positions to drive his team forward, aiming to make the most of his talent during his second full season in Franconia having contributed towards 14 goals in 2019/20. The international break came at the right time for the Shamrocks, with no notable injuries going into Saturday’s game, in sharp contrast to the Rothosen, and will aim to press high from the off.
Daniel Thioune on Fürth: "In the first few games you could see Leitl wants his team to play short, passing football. They hold a high line and expend a lot of energy pressing high up the pitch. They're a challenge for every team in the 2. Liga."
Quintet missing as injuries pose problems for Thioune
Daniel Thioune on the other hand has a raft of injury problems to deal with, particularly in defence. Josha Vagnoman (torn ankle ligaments), David Kinsombi (torn muscle fibre in calf) and Tim Leibold (problems with adductors) are still recovering from their various ailments, whilst Stephan Ambrosius is still in quarantine having tested positive for coronavirus during his time with the German under-21s. Meanwhile Rick van Drongelen is making good progress from his ruptured ACL but is still a way away from restarting full-contact training. Sonny Kittel and Jan Gyamerah could also miss out after picking up knocks in training, leading to a makeshift back-three or back-four from the coaching staff, with the flexible Moritz Heyer possibly filling in for Leibold at left-back. Thioune also confirmed at Thursday’s press conference that Sven Ulreich would make his competitive debut on Saturday, replacing Daniel Heuer Fernandes in goal. The Rothosen sit on six points from two games played having defeated both relegated sides during the opening two matchdays. Thioune will be hoping his side exit the international break raring to go, having defeated FC Fredericia last Thursday and with two home games within the space of seven days to follow.
HSV were only able to secure three wins from their first three games once before, in the 1974/75 season under ‘Ritter’ Kuno Klötze.
Greuther Fürth’s three draws in a row to start the season was most recently matched by Karslruhe in 2016/17. However, no team has ever drawn their first four games in the 2. Liga.
Fürth don’t have the best record against HSV, having not beaten the Rothosen in their last nine attempts. The most famous meeting between the two sides was in the 2014 relegation play-off, when Hamburg survived thanks to a goalless draw in Hamburg and 1-1 draw in Fürth.
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