Hamburg go into the game in lower mid-table on twelve points, two fewer than their Lower Saxony visitors. Not a single point of the 14 Hannover have racked up to date, however, has been earned on the road and the Red Shorts are determined to ensure that run is extended this weekend, to their own benefit.
Van Marwijk: “Playing with too much arrogance”
After getting off to a promising start under new head coach Bert van Marwijk, HSV have come up short in their last couple of outings – albeit against admittedly tough opposition in the form of Borussia Mönchengladbach and, last time out, third-place Bayer Leverkusen.
“We've been playing with a bit too much arrogance lately,” van Marwijk critiqued, a reference above all to the 2-0 Matchday 11 loss to Gladbach which leaves the 61-year-old Dutch tactician still awaiting his first win on home turf almost two months into his tenure at the Imtech Arena. And while expecting that to change on Sunday, he warned that “Hannover are going through a difficult patch. That can make a team dangerous. I've watched them and they've been a bit unlucky lately, but they're a well-organised side”.
Van der Vaart blow for Hamburg
The 96ers' recent form book makes for pretty grim reading nonetheless. With their normally secure home fortress also having taken a bit of a battering lately – two draws and a 4-1 thumping off of Hoffenheim, Mirko Slomka's men are currently a far remove from their pre-season target of a return to the European stage. At any rate, the coach has a full squad at his disposal for this one with the exception of his long-term injury cases and suspended defender Marcelo.
Van Marwijk is not so fortunate in that regard, with Rafael van der Vaart sidelined for weeks after suffering an ankle ligament injury playing for the Netherlands. Marcell Jansen takes over the captain's armband in the interim, but replacing van der Vaart's playmaking attributes will be a different kettle of fish altogether.
History on Hamburg's side
Under the current circumstances, and with none of the pair's previous eleven Bundesliga meetings having ended in a win for the visiting team, it would be understandable were Hannover perhaps to go into the game with the view that a draw would be a decent return. Not so Hamburg, however, as the search goes on for that elusive consistency.
Hamburg: Adler - Westermann, Tah, Djourou, Jansen - Badelj, Rincon - Beister, Calhanoglu, Ilicevic - Lasogga
Hannover: Zieler - H. Sakai, Hoffmann, C. Schulz, Pocognoli - Sané, Andreasen - Stindl, Huszti - A. Sobiech, M. Diouf