bundesliga.com has the pre-match skinny from both camps...
As if a northern derby alone wasn't enough to whet your appetite, this clash comes with high stakes indeed. Hamburg could rise to the heady heights of 11th place if they manage to pick a second consecutive win, but for visitors Hannover, slipping away from the European places, a first victory of the Rückrunde is becoming imperative.
With Pierre-Michel Lasogga out injured, the winter capture of Ivica Olic (r.) has brought some much needed energy to Joe Zinnbauer's side's attack. With Lewis Holtby still out, Zoltan Stieber, is likely to form part of a forward trio with Marcell Jansen and Nicolai Müller, who has scored four times in six games against die Roten.
With no new injury problems apart from a setback to Didier Ya Konan, Hannover coach Tayfun Korkut is likely to opt for a similar side to that which drew with 1. FSV Mainz 05. Jimmy Briand (l.), Hiroshi Kiyotake and Lars Stindl will line up behind lone frontman Joselu, while Senegalese international Salif Sane could be deployed in midfield.
A revitalised Rafael van der Vaart will be key in die Rothosen's attempts to avoid the drop. Used in a deeper role by Zinnbauer, his eye for a pass and bustling movement is usually at the heart of Hamburg's good work going forward, while his set-pieces remain unerring in their accuracy. The Dutchman is also reliable from the spot, converting the last six penalties he has taken.
Hannover's own free-kick maestro, Hiroshi Kiyotake, will be looking to capitalise on any nervousness in a HSV defence which was breached twice against 1. FC Köln in its last outing on home soil. Indeed, a total of eight of the Japanese international's set-pieces have led to a goal this campaign, a Bundesliga high.
Joe Zinnbauer (Hamburger head coach, r.): "We're playing for a result and for us, it's all about getting points on the board. The team has to show that it wants the win."
Tayfun Korkut (Hannover head coach): "We have to find the balance between playing well and taking the points. Hamburg will give everything not to lose a second home game in a row."
HSV bounced back from a 2-0 home loss to Köln on Matchday 18 by beating Paderborn 3-0 in the Benteler Arena, in the process netting the most goals they've managed in any one game all season. Hannover have begun 2015 with a loss away to Schalke and a home draw against Mainz; their worst Rückrunde start in five years.
Interestingly, the last six clashes between these Northern rivals have gone the way of the hosts. Indeed, on Matchday 2 of this season, Hannover eased to a 2-0 win over their long-time rivals with goals from Leon Andreasen and Artur Sobiech, while in the 2013/14 campaign HSV prevailed 3-1 at the Imtech Arena.
Hamburger SV: Drobny - Westermann, Djourou, Rajkovic, Marcos - Jiracek, van der Vaart - Müller, Stieber, Jansen - Olic
Hannover 96: Zieler - Sakai, Marcelo, Schulz, Albornoz - Schmiedebach, Sane - Briand, Stindl, Kiyotake - Joselu