The conventional wisdom is recent times is that Dortmund would be the favourites, however Hamburg have the better of recent meetings and come into the game in much more positive fashion after another win at the weekend.
Dortmund will be hoping to return to winning ways and regain a top three spot, but can Hamburg underline their survival chances with another big victory?
In-form Hamburg looking to continue hoodoo
Dortmund’s stuttering season took another down turn in the Ruhrderby against Schalke 04 on Saturday. Whilst most of the focus post-match has been on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s mask and the antics of Schalke mascot Erwin, the fact remains that not only are Dortmund now 18 points behind Bayern Munich, they’ve slipped down to fourth in the table.
Hamburg meanwhile continued their recovery with a 2-1 win over 1. FC Köln, which was their third win in four games and lifted them up to fourteenth in the table. They remain in danger though, only a point ahead of 1. FSV Mainz 05 and FC Augsburg, who have been dragged into the relegation battle in recent weeks.
This will be the hundredth Bundesliga meeting between these two sides, and goals should be expected. No pair has scored more than the 355 goals that these two have scored when they have met in the past.
Dortmund won 5-2 when they last met in November, with Aubameyang scoring four times, however Hamburg otherwise have a surprisingly impressive record over them in recent seasons. They have recorded five victories in their past nine encounters with Dortmund, with three defeats and just one draw.
Dortmund fully focused on the game ahead
The games are coming thick and fast for Dortmund, with the prospect of important matches against Bayern and AS Monaco after this one. However Thomas Tuchel insists his side “mustn’t be thinking” of those games and take it “one step at the time” – meaning “the full focus is on HSV.”
He believes that the “resurgent” Hamburg will “demand everything of them,” but he is hoping that home advantage will play a big factor. He believes that the crowd “drive us forward” and that allows his team to play itself “into a flow, sometimes even a frenzy.” It is also worth remembering that Hamburg have won just twice on the road all season, which also works in Dortmund’s favour.
His counterpart Markus Gisdol chose to look back at the previous meeting between the two sides, seeing it as a turning point in their season. He descried their goals in that game as “the first lights” of recovery, having scored only twice in the league up to that point. They have lost just four of their 16 games since.
Weigl and Schmelzer add to Dortmund injury concerns
Dortmund remain blighted by injury concerns. André Schürrle, Eric Durm, Mario Götze and Sebastian Rode remain out, Marco Reus is still just off his return to first-team action, and they will also be missing the suspended Sokratis.
Julian Weigl and Marcel Schmelzer remain doubts as well, with Tuchel saying that the pair were “receiving round-the-clock care” in their efforts to make the match despite respective thigh and back problems.
Nicolai Müller is likely to miss most, if not all, of Hamburg’s remaining games after picking up a ligament injury against Köln, whilst Gisdol rates Gideon Jung’s chances of playing in Dortmund as “50/50” after coming off with muscular problems.
Aaron Hunt however may return after his recent lay-off with a shinbone injury, whilst Michael Gregoritsch, Luca Waldschmidt and Bakery Jatta are all in-line to replace Müller. Gotoku Sakai or Albin Ekdal could come in for Jung.
Borussia Dortmund: (3-4-2-1) Bürki; Ginter, Bartra, Piszczek; Pulisic, Castro, Weigl, Guerreiro; Dembélé, Kagawa; Aubameyang.
Hamburger SV: (4-2-3-1) Adler; Diekmeier, Papadopoulos, Mavraj, Santos; Walace, Ekdal; Gregoritsch, Holtby, Kostic; Wood.
Quotes via Borussia Dortmund and Hamburger SV.