15:30 (CEST), Sunday 13th August, Stadion an der Bremer Brücke (Osnabrück, Germany)
Osnabrück have had a less than ideal start to their 3. Liga campaign, winless in their first four games but the DFB Pokal will give a potential reboot to their season.
Hamburg will have their first full season under manager Markus Gisdol and the question remains whether he is the right man to turn this club around after they needed a late goal to avoid the relegation play-off.
In pre-season, Hamburg have had a mixed bag of results which has included a draw to Sparta Rotterdam and a disappointing 5-3 defeat to 2. Bundesliga side Holstein Kiel.
There is no question that Hamburg fans making the 232 km journey south will be nervous of a doomsday situation at the hands of Osnabrück.
Last Time Out
VfL Osnabrück 3-3 Hallescher FC (3. Liga)
Osnabrück hosted Hallescher on matchday four looking to break their winless run. Proceedings started well with captain Halil Savran heading home from close range to open the scoring, but the lead lasted nine minutes before Benjamin Pintol levelled the scores.
Before half time the hosts retook the lead when first half substitute Marcos Alvarez scored with his first touch of the ball past Thomas Müller.
The hosts started poorly in the second half and conceded a penalty when Florian Brügmann was brought down by Tim Danneberg. Pintol stepped and converted the spot kick for his second of the game.
Hallescher then took the lead eight minutes later when Halil El-Helwe tapped in at the near post. However, Osnabrück would save a point moments later when Steffen Tigges’ deflected shot did enough to deceive Müller.
Hamburg 1-1 Espanyol (Friendly)
Hamburg’s final pre-season match before the DFB Pokal 1st Round was to against La Liga side Espanyol. In a cagey affair with chances few and far between, fans at the Volksparkstadion had to wait for the second half for the deadlock to be broken.
Espanyol took the initiative on the hour mark, though, with an excellent through ball by Aaron Martin to play in Gerard Moreno before squaring to provide the simplest of finishes for Léo Baptistão.
The hosts left it late, but got their goal to give the home faithful something to cheer about. An effort from Sven Schipplock was bundled home by Lewis Holtby to give Hamburg a share of the spoils.
VfL Osnabrück Lineup
Manager Joe Enochs has almost a full squad to choose from for the clash with Hamburg. The American will likely set his team up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, but his adaptive system will cater for a switch to a 4-4-2.
From the draw with Hallescher, Bernhard Schulz is out with injury and will be replaced by Ahmet Arslan, who will play deep in midfield rather than on the right. Marc Heider will come on the right of midfield.
Markus Gisdol will be missing a few key players for their DFB Pokal opener. Filip Kostić is out until next week, whilst a back injury is keeping Albin Ekdal out of the side.
A 4-2-3-1 formation is expected by manager Gisdol with the side remaining the same from the starting line-up against Espanyol in their final friendly.
The only difficult decision will be who to start in goal between Christian Mathenia and Julian Pollersbeck. Based on how the two have played throughout pre-season, the nod will likely go to Mathenia.
Key Battle: Halil Savran vs Bobby Wood
The lone strikers will play an important role on Sunday and these are two clubs that generally don’t score a lot of goals.
This season, Osnabrück have only scored five times in their four encounters with their main man up-front Halil Savran only finding the net once.
Hamburg were disastrous in front of goal last season, with the club only scoring 33 goals from their 34 league matches, with only relegated Darmstadt (28) finding the back of the net fewer last campaign.
Striker Bobby Wood in his first season in Germany’s top tier only scored five times, which equalled the now departed Michael Gregoritsch. Goals will be at a premium in this contest and the striker who takes their chances will be the difference maker in this contest.
Osnabrück make their return to the DFB Pokal after failing to qualify for last season rendition. In their previous appearance in 2015, Osnabrück’s ultra’s cost their side progression through to the next round of the Cup.
Their match was played at home against RB Leipzig and started well when Halil Savran scored in the opening 60 seconds.
But throughout the second half, fans would throw anything they had available onto the pitch whenever Leipzig had a corner. A lighter struck referee Martin Petersen on the head and the game was subsequently called off and the DFB awarded RB Leipzig a 2-0 win and progression to the next round.
One will hope the minority of Osnabrück fans keep to themselves, especially if they are leading.
Asserting first choice status
With the departure of Rene Adler to Mainz, there was a hole between the sticks, thus Hamburg brought in Germany U21 hero Julian Pollersbeck from Kaiserslautern to compete with Christian Mathenia.
However, Pollersbeck has surprised all with his shaky performances and he hasn’t looked comfortable this pre-season, whilst Mathenia has looked solid if not spectacular. Mathenia will get the start and a good performance should see the 25-year old get the start on matchday 1 against Augsburg.
PREDICTION: Osnabrück 0-1 Hamburg
A capacity crowd is expected at the Stadion an der Bremer Brücke on Sunday, but a cagey affair is certainly on the cards. Neither side are strong goal scoring threats and a single goal should be enough.
Hamburg have more options going forward and someone like André Hahn, who is looking to make an impression on his new employers, could be the one to pop up and send HSV through to the next round.
Who do you think will win between VfL Osnabrück and Hamburg? Let us know in the comments section below.
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