Hamburger SV's German international left-back Marcell Jansen believes success in the UEFA Cup semi-final second leg against Werder Bremen could inspire his side to a late-season charge for the Bundesliga crown.
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Hamburger SV defender Marcell Jansen believes success in Thursday's UEFA Cup semi-final second leg against Werder Bremen could inspire his side to a late-season push for the Bundesliga title.
Though Hamburg are fifth in the table, Jansen and his team-mates are only five points behind leaders VfL Wolfsburg with four games to play – including one in Bremen on 10 May. Their cause has not been helped by last weekend's 1-1 home draw with Hertha BSC Berlin and the preceding 2-0 defeat at BV Borussia Dortmund, yet the 23-year-old says their title bid could be revived by securing a place in the UEFA Cup final in Istanbul on 20 May. Leading 1-0 from last week's first leg at the Weserstadion and now enjoying home advantage, Hamburg have a certain edge over their northern rivals, even though their progress is far from assured.
Recalling the recent setbacks, German international left-back Jansen said: "We lost to Dortmund and then dropped two points at home to Hertha Berlin – where we were a bit unlucky. We've lost a few points, but if we qualify for the final it will give us a boost in the Bundesliga. I'm not saying we'll win all our remaining games – I don't think that'll happen, it's too difficult. But it could mean we win enough games to win the championship. Because despite the physical pressure that having an extra match would put on you, it would give you such a lift that it could turn some of the games in the Bundesliga in our favour."
Hamburg have faced Bremen twice in the last fortnight, with mixed results – their UEFA Cup victory coming hard on the heels of a 1-1 draw after extra time and 3-1 defeat on penalties in the German Cup semi-final on 22 April. Despite the stakes and inevitable derby tension on Thursday, Jansen insists it is a match the players can relish. "Having played them twice recently, it is possible to enjoy the game because there won't be any surprises," he said. "You know how difficult it will be, how tough it will be. And we will not take the field thinking we are 1-0 up. It's a new game starting and it's 0-0. The important thing will be to hold on to that clean sheet."
Among those out to spoil Hamburg's night will be Bremen midfielder Torsten Frings, who remains far from downbeat about his side's prospects. "We still have a very good chance, despite losing the first leg, because we know we have players who can score goals – even away from home. We also have the psychological advantage of having beaten them in the German Cup." Having applied huge pressure without reward during the second half of last week's opener, captain Frings reckons the deciding factor will be whether his team can improve their finishing in front of goal. "You can be sure that even in Hamburg we will get chances," the 32-year-old said. "It's up to us to make better use of them."