Hamburg - Rafael van der Vaart might be missing, but there will be plenty of other Bundesliga stars on show when Hamburger SV entertain struggling 1899 Hoffenheim on Friday (kick-off 20:30 CET).
To compensate for the loss of their Dutch maestro and, indeed, emerging talent Maximilian Beister (thigh), Hamburg will likely welcome Tolgay Arslan und back into the starting fold, with Thorsten Fink's men looking to hone in on those all-important European places ahead of the winter break.
Son, for one, has set the Bundesliga alight so far this season, scoring six and chipping in with a couple of assists as Hamburg have crept almost unnoticed up the Bundesliga ladder. After going down at Fortuna Düsseldorf on Matchday 13, the same game in which they lost to injury, Fink's side have picked up four points from the last six on offer, cruising past Champions League fliers Schalke 04 and holding a resurgent VfL Wolfsburg to a hard-fought 1-1 draw.
The fact that Hamburg are even being talked about as European hopefuls speaks volumes not just for the level of competition in the Bundesliga, but also for the ethos at the club, which has seen big earners make way for young talent from the world over. Son and Beister are perfect examples of the gifted crop of players at the port city club, but there's plenty more where that came from, with 21-year-old Zhi Gin Lam another possibility on the left-hand side come Friday evening.
"We want to win"
"I know Hoffenheim really need the points on Friday, but we're well prepared and we've already beaten some good sides at home. Now we want to win a third home game in a row", warned Fink. "We will put out the right side in order to beat Hoffenheim," he added - primed and ready to rain on Frank Kramer's debut parade.
"The team are focused on the task at hand. There is a certain amount of pressure too, but that’s to be expected in such a difficult situation," said new Hoffenheim coach Kramer, who'll be hoping American duo Fabian Johnson and Daniel Williams can help put some much-needed breathing space between the Sinsheim strugglers and the relegation places, with just two games left this calendar year.
"Ready and willing"
In at the deep end as it might be, Kramer feels his side are suitably prepped for Friday's clash, as they chase only their third win of the campaign. "It's a case of being aggressive and putting ourselves about the place. If we do everything right, we can come away with the three points. The guys are ready and willing," he affirmed.
"HSV are a very strong at home, but a side that like to dominate as they do will leave spaces for us to exploit," explained Kramer. "HSV are a little unpredictable because the other attackers can push forward even more. That’s more difficult to defend against compared to the ball landing at [Rafael] van der Vaart’s feet," he added; the suggestion that Hamburg pose an even greater threat without van der Vaart only adding to the growing buzz in the Hamburg camp and around the Bundesliga in general.
Hamburger SV: Adler - Diekmeier, Mancienne, Westermann, Lam - Badelj - Skjelbred, Aogo - Arslan - Son, Rudnevs
1899 Hoffenheim: Beck, Williams, Compper, Johnson - Rudy, Salihovic - Roberto Firmino, Volland, Usami - Joselu
Click here to find out where you can watch this game in your territory.