Greuther Fürth vs HSV Hamburg: Promotion rivals face off as football returns
HAMBURG, GERMANY - MARCH 04: Maximilian Sauer of Greuther Fuerth and Bakery Jatta of Hamburger SV battle for the ball during the Second Bundesliga match between Hamburger SV and Greuther Fuerth at Volksparkstadion on March 04, 2019 in Hamburg, Germany. (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)

The 2. Bundesliga returns this weekend, after a two-month suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic, with Greuther Furth and Hamburg facing off on Sunday lunchtime.

Story behind the game

Both sides went into the break with inconsistent form, winning one and two of their last five league games, respectively.

HSV, however, did enjoy a 2-1 home win against Jahn Regensburg in their final match before the season was halted.

Fifth-placed Furth cannot move up any higher with a win on Sunday but could drop three places to eighth with a defeat.

Meanwhile, Die Rothosen can leapfrog Stuttgart and move into the automatic promotion places if they complete the league double over their opponents.

The visitors this weekend won the reverse fixture 2-0 back in October, with goals from Jeremy Dudziak and Sonny Kittel the difference.

Team news

Stefan Leitl's hosts will be without Albanian centre-half Mergim Mavraj for this encounter due to a hip injury.

In addition, 25-year-old midfielder Sebastian Ernst is serving a one-match suspension for accumulating too many yellow cards.

Their opponents will be without three first-team players as Ewerton (knee), Jordan Beyer (concussion) and Jeremy Dudziak (knee) all miss out through injury.

Predicted Line-ups

Furth (4-1-2-1-2) Burchert; Meyerhofer, Jaeckel, Bauer, Wittek; Seguin; Green, Tillman; Nielsen; Hrgota, Keita-Ruel

HSV (4-3-3) Fernandes; Vagnoman, Letschert, van Drongelen, Leibold;  Schaub, Fein, Hunt;  Jatta, Hinterseer, Kittel

Key clashes

Marco Meyerhofer vs Tim Leibold and Sonny Kittel

Furth's 24-year-old right-back faces a stern test this weekend up against HSV's mercurial left-flank.

Leibold's seven league assists are the most by a defender so far this season, whilst Kittel is the club's top scorer in the 2. Bundesliga, with 11 goals.

Meyerhofer will likely need support from his teammates to avoid being overrun by the Hamburg duo.

Julian Green vs Aaron Hunt

Attacking midfielder Green will feel he has a point to prove against Hamburg on Sunday, following a disappointing spell with the club earlier in his career.

The 24-year-old made just five first-team appearances whilst on loan from Bayern Munich during the 2014/15 season, failing to register a goal or assist.

He will come up against visiting captain Aaron Hunt in the middle of the park in what looks to be a mouth-watering face-off.

What the managers have said

Stefan Leitl, Furth manager: "We are pleased that we can go back to our job. At the same time we know what responsibility we have. We will handle it carefully! The anticipation for this game, even if it has to take place under other conditions, is very high."

Aaron Hunt, HSV captain: "It’s certainly a lot different mentally. Playing 11-a-side in an empty stadium is unusual and has the feeling of a friendly. But at the end of the day we’re playing for points."