Hamburg - Saturday evening’s Bundesliga action comes from the Imtech Arena, where European hopefuls Hamburger SV host surprise package SC Freiburg (kick-off 18:30 CET).
Time to reflect
The visitors come into the game on the back of an impressive win over another Euro rival Borussia Mönchengladbach, but the spotlight will undoubtedly be on the home side, and their reaction to that9-2 defeat at the hands of FC Bayern Munich last week.
The intervening period has given them plenty of time to assess the club’s worst Bundesliga defeat for 43 years. Captain Heiko Westermann spoke of being "ashamed" to have featured in such a performance, while head coach Torsten Fink was "lost for words".
The port city club are now understandably eager to make amends for the humiliation. “We’ve done some straight-talking in training this week”, said Fink in his pre-match press conference on Friday. “We can’t go back to that game. We just have to make sure we’ve learned from it.” Left back Marcel Jansen echoed those sentiments, saying, “We know it was a bad day for us. We just have to move on.”
The chances of that happening are good, as the Bundesliga's only ever-presents have a decent record against Freiburg, having won eight of 14 home games against die Breisgauer, as well as earning goalless draw in the MAGE Solar Stadion on Matchday 11 earlier this season. However, Christian Streich’s men have lost just four games from 13 on the road all term and are bouyant after ruthlessly dispatching Gladbach last weekend.
The guests also have the third-best defensive record on foreign soil this season, conceding just 18 times. They will provide a stern test for Hamburg's dangerous attacking trio comprising Heung Min Son,Rafael van der Vaart and club top scorer Artjoms Rudnevs.
All to play for
While the hosts have not written off their chances of qualifying for Europe next season, their haul of one point from their last two home matches (against bottom club Greuther Fürth and struggling FC Augsburg) leaves much to be desired. Furthermore, their goal difference also took a hit in Munich, which could play a factor come the end of the season.
Yet such has been the unpredictability of the European race this term that one win makes a remarkable difference to a team’s placing in the league table. Freiburg could potentially go fourth with victory, while HSV are looking no for a way to ease the pain of last week's hammering.
Hamburg: Adler - Diekmeier, Mancienne, Westermann, Jansen - Arslan, Rincon, Aogo, van der Vaart - Son, Rudnevs
Freiburg: Baumann - Hedenstad, Krmas, Diagne, Sorg - Schmidt, Ginter, Schuster, Caligiuri - Kruse, Rosenthal