Former HSV forward Ruud van Nistelrooy is spending a few days in northern Germany as he studies for his coaching badges, and his arrival on the eve of such an important fixture is not casual. bundesliga.com reveals all in a preview of the Imtech-Arena clash.
Just three points separate Hamburg in 14th from bottom-of-the-table Stuttgart while a swing of two goals in favour of the Swabians would see them move above their hosts. It is no surprise, therefore, that Hamburg coach Josef Zinnbauer (l.) has defined it as a "six-pointer" with his side able to close that gap between them and their guests with a win.
, who was influential in Hamburg's recent win over Mainz at the Imtech Arena, is Zinnbauer's biggest doubt after he took a knock to his shoulder in Saturday's 0-0 draw in Freiburg. His partnership with could therefore be broken, which is not good news with Heiko Westermann ruled out (knee).
Three doubts need to be resolved for Huub Stevens as he prepares to face his former club. , (pictured) and were all unable to train on Sunday and a decision over all three will be left until as late as possible.
saved his first penalty since 2010 at the weekend and when you find yourself in a relegation battle like Hamburg do, having a reassuring figure at the back with Drobny's stature and presence is already half of the job. That penalty save will further fuel his and the Hamburg's rearguard's self-confidence.
Stuttgart captain has only missed 29 minutes this season, which is enough of an indication of how important he is to the cause. At the weekend, the midfielder was decisive in defence and attack and rarely will a blade of grass not be trampled by the man placed third in the overall distance-covered rankings.
Zinnbauer: "We won last time an ex-player was here [like Van Nistelrooy, r.]. I'm superstitious - maybe it works again."
Stevens: "Of course nobody expects to see two big clubs down there. Look at Dortmund - see how quickly things go and how hard it is then to get back out of there."
Stuttgart's 4-1 win at Freiburg seems more an anomaly than a rule as they have lost four of their last six. Hamburg, meanwhile, have alternated home wins with away defeats, triumphing over Bayer 04 Leverkusen, SV Werder Bremen and 1. FSV Mainz in their last three games at the Imtech Arena.
This will be the 99th meeting between two Bundesliga heavyweights with the scales currently tipped in HSV's favour with 42 wins in comparison to Stuttgart's 35. The Swabian's recent record in the north is promising, though, with two wins and a draw from their last three trips.
Hamburg: Drobny - Diekmeier, Djourou, Cleber, Marcos - Behrami, van der Vaart - Müller, Holtby - Rudnevs, Lasogga
Stuttgart: Ulreich - Schwaab, Baumgartl, Niedermeier, Sakai - Klein, Oriol Romeu, Gentner, Hlousek - Werner, Ginczek