RSC Anderlecht are next up as Hamburger SV bid to reach the UEFA Europa League final on home soil and Bruno Labbadia was quick to identify a threat to their ambitions: Romelu Lukaku.
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While Hamburger SV coach Bruno Labbadia said he had "a lot of respect" for round of 16 opponents RSC Anderlecht, he reserved special mention for teenage sensation Romelu Lukaku ahead of the side's meeting on Thursday.
"We have a lot of respect for Lukaku – he is a really strong player and a great talent," he said of the 16-year-old, who has struck three goals in the competition. "But we also have a lot respect for the rest of the team."
HSV maintained their bid to reach May's inaugural UEFA Europa League final at the Hamburg Stadium with an away-goals triumph against PSV Eindhoven in the last 32. If that win was too close for comfort, Labbadia is expecting no easier ride from Anderlecht. "They have a good team and are the top club in Belgium," he said. "You can compare them with PSV, so it will be tough."
Hamburg claimed a first win in four outings on Saturday against Hertha BSC Berlin, but preparations for the first leg have been hampered by injury. Labbadia has doubts over Jerome Boateng (back), Marcus Berg (flu) and Ruud van Nistelrooy (thigh), but captain David Jarolím returns after missing the decider against PSV through suspension. "It was really hard to miss that game," he said. "I called my compatriot [Anderlecht goalkeeper] Daniel Zítka and he told me they are in really good shape."
Zítka himself is not: he, Jan Polák and Nicolas Frutos are all injured, while question marks hang over wunderkind Lukaku and Tom De Sutter. The pair picked up knocks on Saturday as Anderlecht notched up their 20th win in 25 games, beating R. Charleroi SC 2-0. Yet it is the round of 32 success against Athletic Club that Ariël Jacobs highlighted, before describing Hamburg as "one of the best teams in one of the best leagues in Europe". He added: "After the match against Bilbao there was real euphoria in Belgium – now we'll see how that has affected my team."