Hamburg will push it to the limit'

Tomorrow's away game for the Werkself at Hamburg SV (Saturday 15.30 CET) appears to be predictable on paper: While HSV have the worst record since the winter break, without a win in the last nine games and next to bottom with 17 points, Bayer 04 are fifth on 35 points – in touching distance of the top spots. However, head coach Heiko Herrlich is paying little heed to the current comparative positions.

The founding members of the Bundesliga are experienced in relegation battles and are still fighting as the 46-year-old boss is well aware. That is also due to the input of Hamburg's new coach Bernd Hollerbach, who has been brought in to breathe new life into HSV. The former Würzburg Kickers coach has led his team to two draws in the last three matches after a long winless run before that. Herrlich knows Hollerbach well and has a "friendly" relationship with his opposite number as they recently completed a coaching course together.. "Of course, I congratulated Bernd on being appointed coach at Hamburg and I was very happy for him," said Herrlich who added with a slight smile: "But I also wrote:' I wish you all the best – except in the game against us.'" So there are no friendly acts planned from a Bayer 04 point of view: The Werkself are obviously aiming to take all three points from the visit to Hamburg.

responsibilitIES of the referee

To achieve that, Herrlich has again demanded his team, "perform to 100% of their ability." That is sensible given the physical approach adopted by HSV. The Bayer 04 head coach is completely aware that a number of challenges in the games between the two teams in the past have been very tough. "And now there has been a change of coaches," added Herrlich. In the knowledge that Hollerbach believes either the opponent or the ball may get past but never both. "That's often the way his teams play," said Herrlich. However, the Werkself coach did not want to accuse his colleague of merely playing aggressively in defence and engaging in physicality – indeed, he praised the commitment at Würzburg that saw Hollerbach guide them to promotion to the second division.

Nevertheless. "Battling relegation demands special means. I'm sure Hamburg will push it to the limit," said Herrlich expecting an extremely aggressive opponent as was the case in the last away game at Freiburg. "We want to return home with fit players," declared Herrlich in appealing for fairness, "but there are the match officials to take care of that."

slight question mark Over Havertz

In terms of personnel, Herrlich has an almost full squad to choose from with the exception of the injured Lars Bender (rehab training from torn muscle) and Marlon Frey (thyroid infection). And Kai Havertz, who underwent root canal treatment at the dentist on Wednesday, will very probably make the trip to Hamburg. "As a precaution, he is taking a course of antibiotics. At least in part, he will be able to train in the final pre-match session. Our doctors are optimistic he can travel and play tomorrow," reported Herrlich.

For Jonathan Tah, the game against HSV, which 1,400 Werkself supporters will attend, represents a return to his place of birth. Accordingly, he is very much looking forward to the clash with his former club: "It will be a tough encounter. I think we'll need to approach the match with the right mentality and application and then the football will take care of itself." His coach thinks similarly about the offensive capabilities of his team above all after the last two goalless appearances. "We had our chances against Freiburg and Hertha but were unable to take them," said Herrlich: "I'd be worried if we don't manage to get through to the last third or get our shots in. As long as there are chances then I'm optimistic that we'll soon be finding the back of the net again. That's the way it goes sometimes." At the same time, he did mention the Cup win between the two league fixtures  – where his team scored four goals…


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