bundesliga.com previews the Matchday 27 action...
Hamburg, sliding ever closer to the bottom of the Bundesliga table, need whatever they can get to drag themselves away from the drop zone. Leverkusen, meanwhile, are flying in the final UEFA Champions League qualifying spot and will hope to build on their seven-point cushion over fifth.
Roberto Hilbert signed a new contract with the club this week but misses out with suspension, so Croatian teenage defender Tin Jedvaj could make a timely return to action following a long-term hamstring injury. Stefan Kießling started the last game before the winter break and could retain his place, but Robbie Kruse is still out.
In his first league game as HSV coach, Peter Knäbel is set to keep faith with Rene Adler in goal. The 30-year-old spent 12 years at Bayer before leaving in 2012 and will now hope to make the No 1 spot at HSV his own again. Meanwhile, Marcell Jansen failed a late fitness test and Cleber Reis is suspended.
Hakan Calhanoglu contributed more than most to HSV's successful survival bid last term, but after leaving Hamburg for Leverkusen last summer, he was given a frosty reception on his return back in October. He returned to form before the international break and will need no extra motivation to prove his former admirers wrong.
Ivica Olic and Pierre-Michel Lasogga may be the recognised strikers at Hamburg this season, but the key man of late has been Zoltan Stieber. The Hungarian has three goals in 2015 and Knäbel was quick to sing his praises. "We can play with two strikers but it's not certain we will, especially if you see how Stieber has developed."
Roger Schmidt (head coach): "The bottom of the table is extremely tight and they have to take something from this game as well. So I expect a team that is very well organised. [But| we have ambitious targets. It's within our hands now to secure another season in the Champions League and that would be a massive success for Bayer."
Peter Knäbel (head coach): "We know the qualities we have and we have to make sure that we use them efficiently, above all in the phases of the game when we're playing well. For that, we need more presence in the penalty area and more incision in the final third."
Leverkusen's momentum was checked somewhat by a penalty shootout exit in the Champions League against Club Atletico De Madrid three weeks ago, but they won at Schalke on their last league outing and are unbeaten over 90 minutes since mid-February. HSV, meanwhile, are goalless in their last three and .
Hamburg boast a marginally better record in this fixture historically, having won 27 games to Bayer's 29 from their 71 league meetings. The Red Shorts were also winners in the reverse fixture six months ago, when Rafael van der Vaart's penalty gave them the points in a stormy encounter.
Leverkusen: Leno - Jedvaj, Toprak, Spahic, Wendell - Castro, Bender, Rolfes - Bellarabi, Brandt - Kießling
Hamburg: Adler - Diekmeier, Djourou, Westermann, Ostrzolek - Müller, Behrami, Holtby, Stieber - Lasogga, Olic