Ahead of the anticipated return of the Bundesliga, our Stat Gems troupe salute all things Hawaii - including Bobby Wood, Barack Obama and Bruno Mars - as we assess Friday night's Matchday 3 meeting between Hamburg and RB Leipzig.
Whenever the Bundesliga is about to return following a hiatus, our statisticians commonly stir up the collective mood by playing some upbeat tunes around the office, nodding their heads and tapping their feet, all the while jotting down the important Matchday numbers. Indeed, so fervent was the atmosphere during recent days, that a conga even broke out when Bruno Mars sang that Mark Ronson showstopper, Uptown Funk, on Spotify.
Watch: "When I Was Your Man" - Bobby Wood was German football's top-scoring American ever in 2015/16
“I’m too hot (hot damn), call the police and the fireman,” our stat-hungry tribe chanted. “I’m too hot (hot damn), make a dragon wanna retire man,” they continued, as Honolulu-native Bruno brought the house down. While all of this was taking place, somewhere in North America, USA coach Bruce Arena was busy bigging up another gifted Hawaiian, striker Bobby Wood, who it turns out, happens to be hitting his own hot streak just in time for Hamburg’s Matchday 3 mega-clash against RB Leipzig on Friday night.
“[Bobby’s] back at full speed and ready to go,” Arena relayed to the Denver Post, citing Wood’s first Bundesliga goal in eleven games – or 929 minutes, to be precise – as just cause to celebrate. “His pace, his quick, sharp little running behind back lines, his aggressiveness - he’s goal dangerous and he’s very active in this moment,” Arena enthused after Wood hit the mark in a 3-1 Hamburg win at Cologne, prior to becoming the USMNT's goalscoring hero in Tuesday's crucial 1-1 draw against Honduras.
How the forward will now have to demonstrate all of his fine traits on Friday against a team that HSV faced on exactly the same Matchday last season. The Red Shorts suffered a 4-0 thumping – their worst home reverse since 2013 – against a Leipzig side in the throes of a 13-game top-flight unbeaten run at the time.
Yet things have changed significantly since then and when one of the Bundesliga’s founding clubs – and the only side to have featured in every Bundesliga season to date – host the division’s freshest faces at the Volksparkstadion this week, they will be repeating the mantra of another Hawaiian hero, Barack Obama. “Yes we can,” Hamburg coach Markus Gisdol will no doubt respond when asked if Die Rothosen can continue their 100 per cent start to the season. For the first time since 2010/11, Hamburg have two wins from their opening two games and even fondly recall gaining revenge over Leipzig, winning 3-0 at the Red Bull Arena last February.
The last time Friday’s hosts took maximum points from their opening three games was way back in 1974, when, incidentally, television show Hawaii Five-O was wowing the world. Amassing six points from two matches - when they had collected four after their first 12 Bundesliga games last term - represents a significant new high down by the banks of the River Elbe.
However, for all their new-found confidence, Hamburg’s finest will be wary of a threat wading upstream. If Wood is on fire at present, the Don of the Doppelpack – or goalscoring double – Timo ‘Turbo’ Werner is brilliantly ablaze. Leipzig’s form forward scored two in the Saxony-based side’s aforementioned 4-0 win at Hamburg last term and he went on to score four further Bundesliga doubles in 2016/17.
And Werner hasn’t stopped there, scoring three times for Germany in the recent international break to take his tally to six in his last five games for club and country. The striker netted two of those as Leipzig beat Freiburg 4-1, Ralph Hasenhüttl’s men making up for their opening day defeat against Schalke.
Watch: "Yes he can" - Diekmeier on breaking his goalscoring duck
Werner’s numbers stand in stark contrast to anything HSV’s Dennis Diekmeier has managed to date, the defender entering the record books on Matchday 2 as the only player to go 183 Bundesliga games without a goal. Yet should the 27-year-old manage to break his duck this weekend, he would be forgiven for celebrating with the words of one Bruno Mars, who sang, “Gotta kiss myself I’m so pretty.”
More numbers next week!