After the international break, attentions now return to domestic action in the Bundesliga. “The internationals are over and done with. Now everybody is focused on the game against HSV”, said the manager.
Competition for places
In a similar situation to the last league game against Kaiserslautern, Stani has a plethora of fit players to choose from and almost a complete bill of health. Only Matthias Jaissle and Andreas Ibertsberger miss out through injury this week. Manuel Gulde got some match practice in with the UInder-23s this week and is in contention for a place in the squad, as is 20-year-old striker Peniel Mlapa, after his goalscoring exploits for the Germany U21 side. “Penny has been playing very well, and he's focused. That's a good sign for me“, said Stani. Club captain Andreas Beck is also due to return from a thigh injury he suffered before the international break. If he plays, it will be his 100th Bundesliga appearance for 1899.
HSV under pressure
Hamburg had a shocking start to the season and were mired in the relegation zone after their first seven games, culminating in the sacking of manager Michael Oennig. His replacement Thorsten Fink, recruited from Swiss side FC Basel, has steadied the ship, however. In their last fixture, HSV fought back from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Bayer Leverkusen in the Bay-Arena, and there is hope that the side from the city on the river Elbe could be on the up. But Stani believes his side can go to Hamburg with no fear. “They are under more pressure than us, I think. If you're down at the bottom of the league, you need to win your home games. A win against Hamburg would be a little bit more special for me than against another team”, admitted Stani.
Hamburg without Petric
Thorsten Fink can welcome back Jeffrey Bruma and Ivo Ilicevic to his squad after their return from injury, the latter to be used as an impact substitute. But for HSV's top scorer Mladen Petric, Sunday's game will come too early as his calf strain has not yet healed. Marcus Berg is in line to replace the Croat. Defender Slobodan Rajkovic serves the second game of a three-game ban after his red card against Kaiserslautern.
Stats and facts
Hamburg are without a win in ten league games at home, and could equal their longest winless run this weekend, achieved at the beginning of the 2007-08 season. Hoffenheim have lost their last three away games, and have taken just one point from their three games away at HSV since being promoted to the Bundesliga in 2008.