Hamburg - Two strikers and their respective coaches occupy centre stage going into Sunday's early Matchday 9 encounter between Hamburger SV and VfB Stuttgart (kick-off 15:30 CET).
Ibisevic on a high...
Bert van Marwijk, recently installed at HSV, followed up on a debut draw at Eintracht Frankfurt with a thumping 5-0 success at 1. FC Nürnberg last time out. Now, the former Netherlands boss aims to keep the Red Shorts' revival going by bagging another maximum haul in his first game in charge at the Imtech Arena.
Stuttgart, though, are very much on the up themselves since Thomas Schneider took over the coaching reins from Bruno Labbadia at the end of August, collecting eleven points from their five games under the VfB stalwart who was given a shotgun promotion from the club's Under-17s. One man Schneider is certainly counting on to put in a productive shift on Sunday is in-form striker Vedad Ibisevic, fresh back from scoring the match-winning goal in Lithuania which secured Bosnia-Herzegovina a debut FIFA World Cup finals appearance in Brazil next summer.
"We're all proud of Vedo," said Schneider, "he's been over the moon since he got back and he's really hyped up for the game." VfB are out to extend a five-match unbeaten run on Sunday but Ibisevic, currently joint-second on the individual scoring chart with six goals, warned: "We know Hamburg are highly motivated under their new coach and we're going to have to match them in that regard." Regular No1 Sven Ulreich is still recovering from a hand injury and won't be able to help out yet, while midfielder Moritz Leitner (knee problem) is unavailable as well.
...just like Lasogga
The hosts meanwhile also have a frontman at the top of his game right now in Pierre-Michel Lasogga. The loan signing from Hertha Berlin bagged three of the goals that gave van Marwijk his first taste of victory as Hamburg coach - and it was no run-of-the-mill hattrick either from the Germany Under-21 international. Half of Hamburg's still meagre eight-point tally has been earned in the two games under the man who led the Netherlands to the 2010 World Cup final and, currently sitting just above the bottom three, the ambitious north coast club expect that improvement to continue over the weeks and months ahead.
Van Marwijk's main personnel concern for Sunday is versatile defender Marcell Jansen, another of HSV's standout performers at Nürnberg, who returned from international duty with Germany "with a bit of tightness," the coach said. Rafael van der Vaart, having likewise helped the Netherlands rubberstamp their place at Brazil 2014, is eager to give his compatriot van Marwijk a winning start on home turf. "We want another good result," the skipper stressed; "My own personal record against Stuttgart isn't that great, but this would be just the time to improve it."
Hamburg: Adler - Westermann, Tah, Djourou, Jansen - Badelj, Arslan - Beister, van der Vaart, Calhanoglu - Lasogga
Stuttgart: Kirschbaum - G. Sakai, Schwaab, Rüdiger, Boka - Kvist, Gentner - Harnik, Traoré - Maxim - Ibisevic