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Pre match report

17.02.17

Tough opposition during a pleasant situation

After a stunning run of four consecutive home wins the Rothosen are keen to make it five, as top ten side SC Freiburg visit the Volksparkstadion for a matchday 21 encounter on Saturday afternoon. The visitors come to Hamburg with some decent stats of their own.

HSV have just enjoyed a perfect week. Three matches, three wins and three clean sheets. Add to that the reaching of the DFB Cup and the superb away win at second placed high flyers RB Leipzig – the first team to win there in the league this season. Next up SC Freiburg. HSV coach Markus Gisdol rightly had words of warning against any possible complacency as he said: “Freiburg may not have a huge name but it will take a mammoth performance to beat them. They are a tough side to play and are much better than some people think. They are currently not where they belong.”

Freiburg: Clear strategy for decades

Despite a rich run of form over recent weeks the Rothosen must beware. For the first time since their away trip to Ingolstadt they begin a game as slight favourites. After four consecutive home league wins and five in all at the Volksparkstadion that may be true: “We are still in a precarious situation just three points above the drop zone”, knows Jens Todt who knows that things can go the other way in an instant. The Rothosen sport boss: “We host an extremely well organised team who are uncomfortable to play and are a tough nut to crack.” He should know. He spent many years playing for them.

Todt wore the shirt of the Black Forest-based visitors in the Bundesliga from 1991 to 1996, making 168 appearances for them. Current coach Christian Streich was at the club at the time: “He was in charge of the under-19s as I played in the first team”, remembers Todt. Streich was under-19 coach for 16 years before becoming co-trainer to the first team in 2007 and eventually becoming head coach of the first team in 2011. Todt explained: “They have followed the same strategy for decades. They do a wonderful job and put their heart into it.” Gisdol agrees: “There seems to always be an incredible sense of calm there which is a major part of their success.”

Gregoritsch makes provisional squad

That Freiburg success is reflected in the fact that the Rothosen have not beaten them in Hamburg for their last five visits: 1:1, 1:1, 0:1, 1:3 and 0:2 is the dismal record from a Rothosen point of view. In order to break that dismal run, the Rothosen must reproduce the recent form which has thrilled everyone at the club. Gisdol again: “For us it is tough maintaining the tension we had before our recent successful run. It is a kind of nice unusual situation.” The coach has named a 19-man squad for Saturday’s clash including striker Michael Gregoritsch who has recovered from the strain which had recently sidelined him.

Freiburg boss Streich can also choose his team from a full strength squad (with the exception of a few long term injured men). The only doubt is Havard Nielsen who recently sustained a knock to his calf. Streich is likely to keep faith with the team which beat Cologne 2-1 at home last time out – it was Freiburg’s seventh home win of the season. The Freiburg cult-coach expects a tough game in Hamburg with a lot of aerial battles to be won. He said this week: “They will rob us of any enjoyment now that they have found a formation with physical players who have a lot of power.” So it looks like being an uncomfortable encounter for both sides which makes it even more interesting.

HSV (from): Adler, Mathenia; Feld: Diekmeier, Djourou, Douglas Santos, Ekdal, Gregoritsch, Holtby, Hunt, Jung, Lasogga, Kostic, Mavraj, N. Müller, Ostrzolek, Papadopoulos, Sakai, Walace, Wood

Possible SC Freiburg line-up: Schwolow - Kübler, Torrejon, Söyüncü, C. Günter - Frantz, Höfler - Philipp, Grifo - Haberer - Niederlechner

Referee: Christian Dingert (Lebecksmühle)