Werder Bremen visit Hamburger SV for the second leg of their UEFA Cup semi-final aiming to overturn last week's 1-0 home loss and claim a ticket to Istanbul with a repeat of their German Cup win at the same stadium.
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The derby rivalry in northern Germany will reach new heights on Thursday when Hamburger SV meet Werder Bremen to decide which of the two Hanseatic city clubs reaches the UEFA Cup final in Istanbul on 20 May.
Hamburg have the edge after their diminutive midfielder Piotr Trochowski headed the only goal of last week's semi-final first leg at the Weserstadion, though they are still smarting from a German Cup semi-final exit at the hands of Thomas Schaaf's men on 22 April. The game finished 1-1 but Bremen went on to win 3-1 on penalties and set down a marker for their return to the Arena Hamburg on European cup duty.
Bremen, who joined the competition from the UEFA Champions League, can also point to a couple of potential matchwinners in Peruvian forward Claudio Pizarro, whose double strike felled AC Milan in the Round of 32, and Brazilian playmaker Diego, the architect of their quarter-final success against Udinese Calcio. Given the stakes, Schaaf hopes that all of his men will step up to the mark after a faltering first-leg display.
'We will do everything'
"To qualify for a final is something special, but to qualify for a European final is something even more special and we will do everything to take this chance," he told a news conference. "We know what we have to do – we have to win, and we have to play better than we did in the first leg. I'm not going to say we will win, but we will definitely play better. If only because we have to." Schaaf has two injury doubts in midfielder Mesut Özil and striker Hugo Almeida, who may have to make way for Markus Rosenberg.
Hamburg manager Martin Jol believes the threats posed by Pizarro and Diego, along with the narrowness of the lead means his players will not be tempted to sit back and concentrate on defence. "It would have been a problem if we were 2-0 or 3-0 up," the Dutchman told uefa.com. "But 1-0 is nothing. The team realise they have to score goals, and hopefully more than one, because Bremen are capable of scoring a goal." Unfortunately for Jol, Hamburg will have to look for those goals without suspended Peruvian striker José Paolo Guerrero, whose place up front is likely to go to fit-again Mladen Petrić, a familiar partner for fellow Croatian Ivica Olić.
Jol knows that a goal either way will change the complexion of the tie and he makes no secret of when he would like one of his men to find the net. But his main faith is in the determination shown by a side who are fifth in the Bundesliga and still in the title race, just five points behind leaders VfL Wolfsburg. "If we score an early goal, we've got a big chance," he said. "If not, they will always be capable of scoring. But we've got an unbelievable group mentality in the team. They are probably not the best team Hamburg have ever had but they are certainly a team that is very hungry to achieve something. And that is a big quality."