15:30 (CEST), Saturday 19th August, Volksparkstadion (Hamburg, Germany)
Hamburg and Augsburg will look to avoid a replica of last season as they barely survived relegation. Augsburg have brought in some interesting young talent including Hamburg forward Michael Gregoritsch who will give Manuel Baum’s side more bite going forward. They will miss captain Paul Verhaegh who joined Wolfsburg in the transfer window.
The hosts in this clash haven’t lost many first team regulars with Rene Adler the only one of note as he joined Mainz. Hamburg invested in buying Kyriakos Papadopoulos from Bayer Leverkusen whilst they’ll be hoping that André Hahn came provide some more firepower up front for the second worst attacking team in the league. Both sides will be hoping for the best possible start with the three points up for grabs on Saturday afternoon.
Last Time Out
Osnabrück 3-1 Hamburg (DFB Pokal)
It was a disastrous day for Markus Gisdol’s men as they produced a toothless display which saw them knocked out of the DFB Pokal in the first round. It should’ve been an easy task with Osnabrück reduced to 10 men when Marcel Appiah was given a straight red on 19 minutes. But Osnabrück would take the lead before half time through captain Halil Savran.
The hosts would double their advantage on 61 minutes through Marc Heider before making it 3 moments later thanks to former Hamburg junior Ahmet Arslan. Bobby Wood would score a consolation goal 2 minutes later but it wouldn’t be enough as Hamburg crashed out of the cup.
Magdeburg 2-0 Augsburg (DFB Pokal)
Augsburg would also face the same fate as Hamburg as they were beaten at the hands of 3.Liga club Magdeburg. In a tight cagey affair which warranted few chances, it would be the hosts would break the deadlock late when Magdeburg stalwart Christian Beck beat Marwin Hitz on 87 minutes. The game was just into stoppage time with Magdeburg counter attacking an empty net, the initial shot from half way rattling the wood work but Tobias Schwede was there to put the ball in the back of the net to see Augsburg out of the DFB Pokal.
After producing an inexcusable display in Osnabrück by virtue of losing to 10-men convincingly, Markus Gisdol could be forgiven for wielding the axe come selection time. The question will be where to start, defensively it wasn’t great but persisting with Mergim Mavraj and Kyriakos Papadopoulos will be the right move. In midfield, Hamburg were smashed and changes should come there, as Gideon Jung will most likely make way for Lewis Holtby who will play a deeper role. Surprisingly, only one change for me but the starting XI must show a desire to win.
Augsburg were very poor in Magdeburg and their defeated was warranted, Manuel Baum will be hoping for a good response in Hamburg. It was in midfield where Augsburg struggled and I expect changes. Michael Gregoritsch will play a wider role on the left whilst Marcel Heller moves to the bench. Ja-Cheol Koo will come in to play behind Alfreð Finnbogason. Rani Khedira looked rusty but will get a second chance to impress alongside Daniel Baier.
Key Battle: Gōtoku Sakai vs Michael Gregoritsch
Former teammates are set to battle at the Volksparkstadion and it will be a pivotal tilt in the outcome of this contest. Michael Gregoritsch was a part player for Hamburg, generally coming off the bench and it could be said he was deprived of any opportunity to make an impact. Now at Augsburg, there is no question he is a starter and will provide Manuel Baum with plenty of options as the Austrian can play in all areas of attacking midfield and up-front. Last season, Gregoritsch was the joint top scorer for Hamburg with Bobby Wood.
Gōtoku Sakai will know how to combat the crafty Austrian and will need to be at his best on Saturday. The Hamburg captain had a solid season last time out winning 42% of his tackles and 58% of aerial duels which are good numbers for a full back. Sakai reads the play well, last season he led Hamburg in interceptions with 70, Lewis Holtby was next best with 65. Whoever can win this duel will go along way in helping their side get the three points.
A lack of Goals
Goals were hard to come by for both Hamburg and Augsburg last season and it will be interesting to see if they can rectify their ways for the upcoming campaign. Hamburg found the back of the net 33 times whilst were slightly better with 35. Entering the final third won’t be a problem on Saturday, but who will take advantage of their chances will prove more fruitful for that side.
Neither team could find the back of the net regularly but they did concede a bunch full last term, Hamburg shipped 61 goals last season whilst Augsburg allowed 51 to find their way into the goal. What hurt both sides were errors that led to goals, Hamburg (11) and Augsburg (10) were ranked 1st and 2nd respectively in defensive errors leading to goals and if both sides hope to avoid relegation, they will need to tighten up defensively.
Prediction: Hamburg 1-1 Augsburg
Neither side impressed last season and if their DFB Pokal outings are a sign to come, then it will be an extremely difficult season for both Hamburg and Augsburg who in reality are fighting to avoid the drop. I expect a tight, tentative affair but I do expect goals from both sides, just not too many. All in all a draw will probably be the likely result as neither side will be able to find the winner.
Will it Hamburg or Augsburg taking the points in week 1? Let us know in the comments section below.
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