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Hertha BSC - HSV

Germany: Play-offs 1/2
Hertha BSC
Olympiastadion BerlinFull time0-1Attendance: 75.500
HSV L. Reis (57)

Relegation play-off first-leg: Hertha BSC vs Hamburger SV preview

By Ben Sully

On Thursday evening, Hertha BSC and Hamburger SV will face off at the Olympiastadion in the first leg of the Bundesliga relegation play-off, with both sides hoping to gain the upper hand with a victory.

Felix Magath.
Felix Magath.

Hertha BSC

Despite losing to Mainz in the penultimate game of the Bundesliga season, it looked as though Hertha had done enough to avoid the relegation playoff.

They entered the final matchday three points clear of Stuttgart and when Felix Magath's side took the lead against Borussia Dortmund, they were well on their way to securing their place in the topflight. Even when Dortmund scored two second half goals, Hertha remained on course to avoid to the play-off, as Stuttgart were being held by FC Köln, with Die Schwaben level at a goal apiece.

However, in the 92nd minute at the Mercedes-Benz Arena, Wataru Endo found a dramatic winner to move Stuttgart up into 15th place, while condemning Hertha to the relegation play-off.

Although they would have been disappointed to drop into the play-off, Hertha cannot afford to dwell on the final day of the Bundesliga season, with a minimum of 180 minutes of football in store against HSV.

With home advantage in their favour on Thursday, Magath's side will be desperately trying to take a lead into the second leg.

Two wins in their previous four home games will offer encouragement, especially as both of those victories yielded clean sheets.

Although they ended the season with the joint-worst defensive home record in the top flight, Hertha can at least take confidence from the fact that they were one of only three sides that scored in every Bundesliga home match this term.

The hosts will also be encouraged by their recent home record against HSV, with their previous five competitive home meetings all resulting in a Hertha victory.
Team News

Felix Magath has indicated that if Marcel Lotka is unable to feature on Thursday then the goalkeeper will be replaced by Dane Oliver Christensen, who could make his debut for Hertha.

Injury issues will prevent Davie Selke, Márton Dárdai and Lukas Klünter from featuring, while Santiago Ascacíbar is suspended for the first leg due to an accumulation of yellow cards.

Hamburger SV

After 29 league games, HSV were seven points adrift of the top three, but a run of five victories has helped them soar up the table to finish the season in third position.

However, they came extremely close to blowing their playoff opportunity on the final day of the season.

HSV entered the final matchday level on points with Darmstadt 98, but due to their superior goal difference, Tim Walter's side occupied third spot.

Although, while Darmstadt raced into a three-goal lead against Paderborn, Hamburg trailed 1-0 at half in their encounter with Hansa Rostock.

Fully aware that only a win would do, HSV fought back in the second half, with Robert Glatzel, Sebastian Schonlau and Mikkel Kaufmann all finding the net.

Rostock managed to pull a goal back in stoppage time, but HSV held firm to book their place in the play-off.

HSV head into the first leg full of confidence after winning their last five league matches, while scoring 13 goals across those five victories.

As a result of their recent barrage of goals, Walter's charges ended the campaign with the third-best goalscoring record in the 2.Bundesliga, but their attacking intent did not hinder their defensive capabilities. In fact, HSV finished the season with the best defensive record in the second tier after conceding just 35 goals in their 34 league matches.

After losing only six league games in the entirety of the 2.Bundesliga season, HSV will be quietly confident that at the very least they can hold their hosts to a draw on Thursday.
Team News

Walter only has a couple of injury absentees to contend with. After missing the final league game of the season, Anssi Suhonen will be unavailable once again due to a knee problem. The 21-year-old is joined on the sidelines by Tim Leibold, who is a long-term injury absentee.

Hertha BSC
32O. Christensen
2P. Pekarík
4D. Boyata (C)
20M. Kempf
21M. Plattenhardt
8S. Serdar ↪70
5N. Stark ↪70
29L. Tousart
17M. Mittelstädt
14I. Belfodil ↪80
24L. Wollschläger ↪46
12N. Körber
11M. Maolida ↩80
19S. Jovetić ↩46
23M. Richter ↩70
27K. Boateng
3F. Bjørkan
42J. Eitschberger
44L. Gechter ↩70
6V. Darida
1D. Heuer
3M. Heyer
44M. Vušković
4S. Schonlau (C)
28M. Muheim
14L. Reis
23J. Meffert
41M. Rohr ↪58
18B. Jatta ↪73
9R. Glatzel
10S. Kittel ↪90
12T. Mickel
11M. Kaufmann ↩73
19M. Wintzheimer
2J. Gyamerah ↩90
27J. Vagnoman ↩58
34J. David
6D. Kinsombi
7G. Chakvetadze
48F. Alidou

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