19:30 (BST); Friday 15th September; HDI Arena (Hannover, Germany); BT Sport 3
Hannover have surprised many with their electric start this season and sit in third place on goal difference with just Hoffenheim and Borussia Dortmund ahead.
Hamburg themselves have had a good start to their Bundesliga campaign, two wins to start the season, but a blip last time out sees them tied with RB Leipzig, Schalke and Bayern Munich on six points.
It’s Hamburg’s third consecutive Friday night fixture and so far they have split the ties. Can HSV leave Hannover with all three points or will the hosts’ pressing game be too much for the visitors to handle?
Last time out
Wolfsburg 1-1 Hannover
Hannover made the short journey to Wolfsburg as they looked to make it three wins from three to start their campaign.
Wolfsburg came out with plenty of intent from the outset and peppered Philipp Tschauner’s goal as Hannover were fortunate to escape the first half level. However, Wolfsburg’s pressure paid off, and they eventually got their goal.
Daniel Didavi’s trickling free-kick went straight through the wall and evaded keeper Tschauner and into the bottom corner.
Hannover got themselves back on level terms with 15 minutes remaining. Martin Harnik, a shadow for the majority of the contest, back-heeled a loose ball in the goalmouth through the legs of Koen Casteels to steal a point in the Lower Saxony derby.
Hamburg 0-2 RB Leipzig
With their best league start in eight years, Hamburg looked to triple their luck as they were going for three consecutive victories to start the season.
In a cagey first half, the visitors looked more likely to score as Hamburg failed to assert themselves in the contest.
In the second half, though, Leipzig were at their clinical best and after 67 minutes they broke the deadlock.
A quick free-kick from Diego Demme found Naby Keïta, whose long-range effort curled away from keeper Christian Mathenia.
Eight minutes later the game was out of reach for Hamburg. Kevin Kampl started the counter-attack with a delightful pass to Timo Werner, who dribbled through the Hamburg defence before finishing the move off with a cool finish past Mathenia.
André Breitenreiter will have holes to fill with the injury list lengthening in Hannover. Pirmin Schwegler was a late exclusion and is set to miss the clash with Hamburg whilst Marvin Bakalorz picked up an injury in training and is a 50-50 chance of playing.
If he passes fit, then the 28-year-old midfielder will play, but if he is unavailable, we expect Sebastian Maier to come into midfield.
We expect shuffling for Hamburg from the side that succumbed to defeat in Week 3.
Rick van Drongelen picked up a thigh strain in the defeat to RB Leipzig which will see the young Dutchman miss this clash. Therefore, Gotoku Sakai comes in at left back.
However, Hamburg are aided by the return of Mergim Mavraj, who missed the last fixture due to suspension. The Albanian will partner Kyriakos Papadopoulos in central defence.
Filip Kostić is also set to miss due injury with Sven Schipplock starting on the left of midfield.
Key Battle: Martin Harnik vs Gotoku Sakai
Martin Harnik has made a big return to the Bundesliga with two goals in three appearances as Hannover are in the top three to start the new season.
The Austrian international has looked dangerous going forwards and, if Hannover are to stay up this season, they will need Harnik to continue his goal scoring exploits.
His direct opponent will most likely be Gotoku Sakai, who replaces the impressive Rick van Drongelen due to injury.
Sakai lost his position in the starting XI after a disastrous display against Osnabrück in the DFB Pokal with Dennis Diekmeier becoming a permanent fixture in the starting line-up. The Japanese international has been given a reprieve although it’s at left back.
Can Sakai keep it together and keep Harnik out or will the Austrian international put Hamburg to the sword?
Hannover have an excellent defensive record this season as they have conceded only once in their opening three games. That’s second best in the Bundesliga with Borussia Dortmund the only side yet to ship a goal this campaign.
It’s a surprise for most as the back four is different to the regular starters in last year’s second-placed 2. Bundesliga side.
Salif Sané is the only regular remaining with Oliver Sorg and Florian Hübner dropped to the bench, whilst Miiko Albornoz is injured.
Felipe and new signings Julian Korb and Matthias Ostrzolek have come in and performed really well for Hannover. Can they shut Hamburg out for their third clean sheet this season?
Hamburg’s state of mind
Hamburg are a point behind their opponents and their character will be questioned entering Week 4.
As has been the case so often with Hamburg, a loss begins a chain reaction of heavy defeats, which sees the manager in charge getting the axe later down the road.
Under Markus Gisdol, Hamburg have shown a level of resilience unseen under previous management.
Can Hamburg turn it around by bouncing back from last weeks set back?
PREDICTION: Hannover 1-0 Hamburg
Hannover have been impressive in their opening three matches with a keen eye on their defensive responsibilities, whilst have shown they are deadly when they turn defence into attack.
Hamburg do have a better scoring record than Hannover, but can they hold their shape and keep possession as André Breitenreiter’s side press high up the park?
I feel Hamburg will crumble late on as Hannover steal all three points to open Week 4.
Can Hannover remain in the top three with a win or will Hamburg bounce back from last week’s defeat? Let us know in the comments section below
Want to share your opinion? Why not Write For Us?