Super Friday: Hamburg vs Bayern Munich

Hamburg vs Bayern Munich
Imtech Arena, Hamburg
Friday, 22 October 2010
20:30 Local Time (18.30 GMT)

Hamburger SV and FC Bayern Munich get the Matchday 9 action under way on Friday evening in the classic Bundesliga heavyweight meeting of north and south. Always a much-anticipated affair, this particular match-up promises to be even feistier than most. Hamburg want to keep their recent form going and maintain their push on the top, but for Bayern the situation is rather more critical.

Already ten points off the title pace, the defending champions cannot afford another defeat on this trip to the northern port city. In fact, their German international full back Philipp Lahm insists that, "We have to win at Hamburg." Easier said than done however. Up till around five years ago HSV were one of Bayern's favoured opponents, but that picture has changed dramatically over the past few seasons. The Munich giants have won just two of the last ten head-to-heads, and lost on their two most recent outings to the Hamburg Arena, downed by a single Mladen Petric goal on each occasion.

"Winning is more important than playing attractively", Bayern coach Louis van Gaal asserted, at the same time underplaying his team's convincing home victory over Hannover 96 last time out: "Beating Hannover at home is a more logical outcome than beating Hamburg away." The latter one, moreover, will have to be achieved without skipper Mark van Bommel and Miroslav Klose, both currently on the injured list alongside superstar duo Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery.

Hamburg coach Armin Veh says his own side "need the win to stay in touch at the top... this is a very important game for us." Having scuppered FSV Mainz's hopes of a record season start with a late victory on the road last week, the hosts are in buoyant mood and striker Ruud van Nistelrooy says the aim now is, "to get a run going... preferably starting against Bayern."

Veh, who believes the defending champions are "still the favourites for the title", despite their current travails, will be relying on the same players who did the business at Mainz. Right back Collin Benjamin is the only doubt with a bruised knee. Bayern bogeyman Petric, just back after a calf injury, will likely start on the bench.

The visitors could have central defender Daniel van Buyten and striker Ivica Olic available again, but van Gaal was keeping his cards close to his chest in the run-up, saying, "It might be that they don't play." One who will is Mario Gomez, who ended his scoring drought in style with a hattrick against Hannover.

Ze Roberto could be the key to Hamburg's chances of a good result. The Brazilian veteran has been in great form of late and has already laid on six goals this season. His special affinity with Bayern, where he spent six years all-told, will be put on ice on Friday evening. "The wins against Mainz and Kaiserslautern have been good for our confidence", he said: "Our aim is to dig in at the top of the standings."

Source: Bundesliga

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