Hannover 96 vs. Hamburger SV 1 – 1: ”Cuddle derby” ending in a draw

The friendliest of all northern derbies in the league showed why both teams are struggling at the moment.

The matches between Werder Bremen and Hamburger SV tend to be heated affairs, fueled by the hatred the fans feel for each other as well as a rivalry stretching decades. This is not the case when Hannover take on Hamburg however. Both sets of supporters like each other and have developed a stern friendship over the recent years, which makes the derby between the two sides the Bundesliga’s ”cuddle derby”.

Hannover have gotten the better of HSV in recent years, winning 7, drawing 8 and only losing 3 times to their bigger neighbors from the north. Hamburg have not won an away match in Hannover since 2007, and Hannover is only one of two sides in the league that is still undefeated at home (the other being Gladbach). However, the Reds are still waiting for their first win in the league since they defeated Bayern Munich at home on match day 10, whilst Hamburg have yet to lose under Fink.

Torsten Fink had to do without Mladen Petric and Marcus Berg, while Slomka did not have Stindl and Ya Konan available due to suspensions. Additionally Slomka chose to put Cherundolo back into the starting line up, dropping Sofian Chahed to the bench.


Hannover 96: Zieler – Cherundolo, Haggui, Pogatetz, Schulz – Stoppelkamp (Sobiech 67 ’), Schmiedebach, Pinto, Pander – Schlaudraff, Abdellaoue (Rausch 84’)

Hamburger SV: Drobny – Diekmeier, Bruma, Westermann, Aogo – Rincón, Kacar (Tesche 81’) – Töre, Jansen (Ilicevic 84’) – Son, Guerrero

First half: Box to box football but no goals

Both teams were playing their interpretation of the 4-4-2 system. Hannover with their deep-lying defense, and their quick wing play with Schlaudraff  the player who often drops deep to participate in the build up play. Hamburg’s width on the other hand is primarily provided by full backs playing high up the pitch, with holding midfielder Rincon often dropping back and forming a back three with the two central defenders.

Hamburg started the match better and took a note from Hannover’s playbook but starting quick direct attacks when in regaining possession. Guerrero and Töre both tried to get the ball past Ron-Robert Zieler in the Hannover goal with shots from distance in the second and third minute, but both of them narrowly missed the target. Hamburg were the better of the two sides in the beginning of the first half, but lacked that added bit of incisiveness in the attacking third and often times lacked precision when going forward.

Hannover’s first chance came after 14 minutes when Pinto played a long ball and found Jan Schlaudraff, who took the ball into his stride and ran towards the goal unchallenged. A quickly advancing Drobny narrowed down the angle for the former Bayern man, and pulled off his first excellent save of the match by stopping Schlaudraff’s shot with his right foot.

A lot of individual passing errors were made during the match.

After Schlaudraff’s chance the spectators in the AWD arena saw an open match, which was entertaining because of both teams willingness to go forward and because a high number of individual errors meant chances were being created en masse for both teams. Then it was Hannover’s turn to have the better chances, but Moa Abdellaoue and Karim Haggui failed to to get the ball past Drobny in the HSV goal. Son had the best chance for HSV in the 29th minute, but his shot from 20 meters was diligently kept out by Zieler.

Before the break, Jan Schlaudraff was once again one on one with Jaroslav Drobny in the but his strike went straight into the keeper’s arms this time around. Having wasted two golden opportunities in the first half, Schlaudraff would later make up for his misses in spectacular fashion

Second half: Goal of the season contender secures Hannover a point

The game continued where it had left off, plenty of room and plenty of individual errors. Hamburg lacked the precision to make something out of the room that was given to them by Hannover at the beginning of the second half, while Hannover didn’t manage to break quickly enough to exploit the room left behind by the constantly advancing Aogo and Diekmeier.

Both Westermann and Haggui won a lot of important duels at the back, saving their goalkeepers some trouble.

In the 63rd minute Steve Cherundolo gave away a corner needlessly after an unprecise cross into the area. The US international was all by himself, and could have easily taken more time or let the ball go out. Cherundolo’s error would not go unpunished. The corner kick was delivered by Gökhan Töre and found Jeffrey Bruma who had shrugged off Abdellaoue. The Dutch center back made no mistakes from 6 meters and put the ball into the net, giving Hamburg the lead.

Fifteen minutes later it would be Hannover’s turn to score from a corner: Sergio Pinto found Jan Schlaudraff with a precise cross just outside the area, and Schlaudraff took the ball on the volley and slotted it past Jaroslav Drobny in the Hamburg goal from 17-18 meters.  It was truly one of the most magnificent goals that has been scored all season and reminiscent of Robben’s Champions League goal against Manchester United.

Both teams tried to go for the win in the last 10 minutes but neither managed to create a chance worth mentioning or threatening enough to win the match.

Conclusion: A draw helps neither team

Both sides needed three points from this match. Hannover to cling to the top half of the table and to stay in contention for a European slot, while Hamburg needed to get away from the relegation dog fight. Whle Hamburg still look a bit shaky at times the team seems to have stabilized a bit more under Fink.  The opposite is the case for Hannover who have shown kinks in their armor in recent weeks and face a Europa League match midweek.

Hamburg have Nürnberg, Mainz and Augsburg ahead of them before the winter break. This should be a good opportunity to collect a number of points and move out of the relegation zone for Torsten Fink’s team. Hannover have Freiburg, Leverkusen and Kaiserslautern before the Bundesliga goes into winter hybranation. If the team wants to challenge for the European places again, these three matches might be key to stay in the race for those 6 spots.

Man of the match: Jaroslav Drobny

The goalkeeper kept HSV in the match with a number of excellent saves in the first half and saved a total of 8 shots. Drobny is finally beginning to show his class after a rather forgetful start to the seaon, much to the delight of the HSV faithful of course. The change in management has had a positive effect on many Hamburg players, Drobny being a primary recipient.

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Niklas Wildhagen

Niklas is a 33-year-old football writer and podcaster who has been following the Bundesliga and German football since the early 90s. You can follow him on Twitter, @normusings, and listen to his opinions on @TalkingFussball.

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