Kick-off: Thursday, May 7 2009 (20:45 CET).
HSH Nordbank Arena, Hamburg
A solitary goal at the Weser Stadion last week from Piotr Trochowski has handed Hamburg a narrow advantage going into the second-leg against Werder Bremen. With a place in the Istanbul final at stake, both sides in this all-German semi-final will be giving it their all.Ã‚Â
Three Becomes One
It has all happened so quickly for HSV. One moment Hamburg were fighting on three fronts with a treble of Bundesliga, DFB Pokal and UEFA Cup in their sights. Then it became a solitary trophy on offer as first they were knocked out of the DFB Pokal on penalties by Werder, then their title challenged slipped as Wolfsburg and Bayern took control.
Martin JolÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s side still remain within touching distance at the top of the Bundesliga, but all their attention for now is focused on the UEFA Cup,Ã‚Â with a potential final against either Shakhtar Donetsk or Dynamo Kiev the prize.
European glory is something the club have already experienced in the past but the current squad of players want to write their own headlines rather than hear about the European Cup glory of 1983 or the Cup WinnersÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ Cup glory of 1977. The Hanseaten were UEFA Cup runners-up in 1982 and would dearly love to make it a clean sweep of European honours.
“We have given a good account of ourselves on the European stage so far this season. The UEFA Cup run this season has boosted the image of HSV in Europe”, said the clubÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s sporting director Dietmar Beiersdorfer at the pre-match press conference.
Trainer Martin Jol is also looking for only his second trophy as a coach after his KNVB Cup success while at Roda JC.
“It is always the case that we have a 50-50 chance, but only as long as we don’t concede a goal. We built a good platform to work from during the first leg in Bremen and we want to reach the final,” Jol explained.Ã‚Â Ã‚Â
The result from the first-leg has forced WerderÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s hand with regard to their tactics for this second-leg. The Rothosen have the advantage with the away goal so Werder will have to do what Werder do best and attack looking for goals.Ã‚Â
Travelling the short distance to Hamburg and playing in front of a passionate HSH Nordbank Arena crowd will hold no fear for Werder as they have already this season gone away from home and achieved highly respectable results against Milan, Inter, and Udinese.
The Green and Whites’ league campaign has been a disaster by their own very high standards, and they will miss out on Champions League qualification for the first time in a number of years.Ã‚Â Ã‚Â
The club have also come in for a bit of criticism for fielding a weakened team at the weekend against Koeln, but it is understandable considering that a UEFA Cup win could rescue what has otherwise been a below average season for Thomas SchaafÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s side.Ã‚Â Ã‚Â
“I cannot listen to this any longer,” Thomas Schaaf is quoted as saying in Kicker. “We are always being accused of something which is simply not true.
“I don’t agree with this current criticism. Anybody who accuses us of anything in this respect should look at our games against Leverkusen and Bochum, for example.
“That should make it clear to them how easily we gift points and don’t care about the Bundesliga anymore. Everybody should take a look at themselves and make sure they do their own things right and let us work in peace and quiet here.”
May 03Ã‚Â Hamburg 1-1 Hertha BerlinÃ‚Â (Bundesliga)
Apr 30Ã‚Â Werder Bremen 0-1 HamburgÃ‚Â (UEFA Cup)
Apr 25Ã‚Â Borussia Dortmund 2-0 HamburgÃ‚Â (Bundesliga)
Apr 22Ã‚Â Hamburg 1-1 Werder Bremen, 1-3 penÃ‚Â (DFB Pokal)
Apr 19Ã‚Â Hamburg 2-1 HannoverÃ‚Â Ã‚Â (Bundesliga)Ã‚Â
May 03Ã‚Â 1.FC Koeln 1-0 Werder BremenÃ‚Â (Bundesliga)
Apr 30Ã‚Â Werder Bremen 0-1 HamburgÃ‚Â (UEFA Cup)
Apr 25Ã‚Â Werder Bremen 3-2 VfL BochumÃ‚Â (Bundesliga)
Apr 22Ã‚Â Hamburg 1-1Werder Bremen, 1-3 penÃ‚Â (DFB Pokal)
Apr 19Ã‚Â Hertha Berlin 2-1 Werder BremenÃ‚Â (Bundesliga)
Trainer Martin Jol will hopefully welcome back Croatian striker Mladen Petric for the semi-final crunch clash with Werder. Petric has been out for two weeks because of a cut on his shin.
Petric, who has 20 goals for Hamburg this season, is likely to line up alongside fellow Croatian international Ivica Olic with Paolo Guerrero suspended for this match.
Defender Axel Silva is nursing a thigh injury but Jol expects him to be fit for the third of four matches between the two teams in 19 days.Ã‚Â
Probable starting XI: Rost, Demel, Aogo, Mathijsen, Gravgaard, Alex Silva, Jarolim, Jansen, Trochowski, Petric, Olic
Bremen, who are five places and 16 points behind Hamburg with four games remaining in the Bundesliga, expect to have midfielders Diego and Mesut Oezil back after both missed a 1-0 loss at Cologne at the weekend.
Both were officially reported injured – Diego with back problems and Oezil with knee problems – but many suspect they were simply rested.
Striker Hugo Almeida is still doubtful though after suffering a gashed leg in the first leg in Hamburg, while defender Petri Pasanen is definitely out.Ã‚Â
Probable starting XI: Wiese, Fritz, Naldo, Mertesacker, Boenisch, Frings, Tziolis, Oezil, Diego, Pizarro, RosenbergÃ‚Â
PLAYERS TO WATCHÃ‚Â
Hamburg – Ivica Olic
Both sides will look for their big-name players to step up to the mark on Thursday, and for Hamburg that is Croatian Ivica Olic. The forward will be leaving the club in the summer for Bayern Munich and would dearly love to leave the fans who adore him with a parting gift of a European trophy. He has already scored seven goals in the competition this season and will be looking to fire his side into the final with a few more.Ã‚Â
Werder Bremen – Diego
Like Olic at HSV, Diego will in all likelihood be leaving Werder this summer, although his final destination is not known at present. He too would cherish a UEFA Cup medal before he departs the Weser Stadion for pastures new, and no player in the Werder ranks has done more this season to get the club to where they are in the competition. The Brazilian scored a crucial goal against Milan and four in the two legs against Udinese.Ã‚Â
This is an extremely tough one to call, but call it I must. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll go for Hamburg to make it through, although their fans will probably be put through the emotional wringer before they do. Werder have a tendency to draw away from home this season, and a draw will suit HSV so IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll go for a stalemate with goals, which will be enough to see Hamburg through.Ã‚Â Ã‚Â
Hamburg 1-1 Werder Bremen
Mathew Burt, Goal.com