Berlin - Hertha Berlin coach Jos Luhukay hopes to see the Olympiastadion full to the rafters in the weeks to come - none more so than when Hamburger SV come to town on Saturday evening (kick-off 18:30 CEST).
Football collocates itself in the branch of entertainment and if the product being offered manages to entice, excite and enthuse the spectators, then they are bound to come back for more.
Hertha’s first home game of the season did precisely that and it is hoped that most of the 54,376 fans present that day will return again, and bring a friend or two. The aim is to fill the stadium, and for that to happen, 20,000 more souls need to be attracted to Hertha’s home. “It would be beautiful to play in front of a sold-out stadium,” said coach Jos Luhukay. “That’s got to be our aim.”
He has experienced that once already with a capacity crowd taking in the city derby with 1. FC Union last season, and a repeat of the atmosphere on that night is what Luhukay craves week in, week out. “We are going to put everything into our home games to stay in the Bundesliga,” said Luhukay, calling on the support of the 12th man to help his side achieve their objectives.
The eleven men on the field will have to play their part too, of course - John Anthony Brooks included. The USA international made a captivating debut a fortnight ago, but he was subsequently left out of the side which drew in Nuremberg last weekend. “He’s going to be back again against HSV,” revealed Luhukay on Hamburg’s website. “’Jay’ made his Bundesliga debut against Frankfurt and then he made his debut for the USA. I just had the feeling he needed a break.”
That was the feeling Hamburg coach Thorsten Fink had following his side’s 5-1 defeat to 1899 Hoffenheim last weekend. He gave his team two days to gather their thoughts and recharge their physical and mental batteries in preparation for Saturday’s trip to the capital. He hopes the rest will have done his team good, too, as they seek their first win of the season.
“We’ve got to block out last weekend and go into our next task with optimism,” Fink said. “We need to get back into gear as quickly as possible, ideally with a good performance in Berlin. We have a really poor game behind us, but now we’re looking forwards. My team has the quality to cause Hertha big problems.”
That team will not include Marcell Jansen, who has a toe injury, but there is no doubting Rafael van der Vaart’s place in the side. The Hamburg captain is optimistic about Saturday’s trip. “In the past, it has often been the case that we’ve followed a bad game with a good one,” he said. “I’m convinced we’ll do the same now and play a good game in Berlin [...] We showed against Schalke what we are capable of and I expect a similar performance now against Hertha Berlin.”
Hertha: Kraft - Pekarik, Langkamp, Brooks, Holland - Lustenberger, Hosogai - Allagui, Baumjohann, Ben-Hatira - Ramos
Hamburg: Adler - Diekmeier, Sobiech, Westermann, Lam - Arslan, Badelj - Beister, van der Vaart, Calhanoglu - Rudnevs