Good afternoon everyone! We've got some cracking looking games in the Bundesliga this weekend and in Northern Germany there are sure to be some fireworks, as in-form Borussia Dortmund
travel to struggling Hamburg.
It's still hard to believe that just a month ago Dortmund were sitting bottom of the Bundesliga. Everything seemed to be going wrong and they had lost 11 of their 19 league games. However, a run of four successive victories has moved them up to 10th and they can now start looking towards the European spots rather than a relegation battle.
Things haven't been going well for Hamburg recently though and they have slipped to 15th in the table, leaving them a point above the drop zone. Their form has been mixed all season, but a crushing 8-0 defeat at Bayern Munich a couple of games ago has really shattered their frail confidence.
Right, let's have a look at how each team will line up this afternoon. The big news for Dortmund is that Marco Reus
is fit enough to start after limping off injured in their midweek cup win. He will link up with Shinji Kagawa
and İlkay Gundogan in the midfield, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
leading the attack. Meanwhile, Ivica Olic
starts as the lone striker for Hamburg, but Rafael Van der Vaart
has been dropped to the bench.
HAMBURG XI: Drobny, Diekmeier, Djourou, Cleber, Westermann, Jiracek, Behrami, Muller, Stieber, Gouaida, Olic
DORTMUND XI: Weidenfeller, Kirch, Subotic, Hummels, Schmelzer. Bender, Gundogan, Mkhitaryan, Reus, Kagawa, Aubameyang
HAMBURG SUBS: Adler, Beister, Marcos, Kacar, Van der Vaart, Lasogga, Rudnevs
DORTMUND SUBS: Langerak, Sokratis, Ginter, Kehl, Kuba, Kampl, Immobile
It's safe to say that Dortmund are enjoying their best run of form this season. They have won five out of their last six, with a 2-1 defeat away to Juventus in the Champions League their only blip. Marco Reus's away goal could still prove decisive in the second leg on March 18, while they have also reached the quarter-finals of the German Cup, having beaten Dynamo Dresden in midweek.
Hamburg will be hoping to take inspiration from Dortmund's recent improvements, but they have won just two out of their last nine games. One of their major problems has been finding the net and they have the worst record in the league with just 16 goals scored all season.
While Dortmund will be considered the favourites today, it was Hamburg who came out on top when the teams last met. Pierre-Michel Lasogga
scored the only goal in a 1-0 win, but that did come during a five-game losing run for Jurgen Klopp
PREDICTION: You've got to fancy Dortmund to pick up the three points today, although it's worth remembering that Hamburg have won four of the last five games between the two teams. Hamburg desperately need something to kick-start their season, but I feel that the visitors will have far too much quality and I am predicting them to claim a 2-1 win this afternoon.
KICKOFF! We are underway at the Imtech Arena!
Dortmund have started the game strongly and they are making the early running here. They also have a great chance to get players into the box from a free kick, but nobody is able to turn in Reus's delivery and the keeper is able to claim.
CHANCE! The visitors may have seen a lot of the ball, but it's Hamburg who create the first chance. Behrami, who was lucky to avoid a booking moments ago for a heavy challenge on Mkhitaryan is picked out in the centre of the box and fires in a strike that goes just wide of the post.
We've seen a couple of late challenges already this afternoon, but so far the referee has decided to keep his cards in his pocket. I doubt it will stay that way for too long though if the tackles keep flying in.
In terms of chances, there really has been little to report apart from that Behrami strike off-target. This game is generally regarded as one of the most entertaining in the Bundesliga, but there are no signs of a goal fest awaiting us just yet.
Hamburg have defended pretty well so far and Dortmund have been unable to get in behind them and really cause them any problems. The visitors are managing to get Reus on the ball and the midfielder is just starting to dictate the play.
SUBSTITUTION: Hamburg have been forced into an early change here, as Djourou cannot continue with Marcos taking his place in the back four.
CHANCE! Hamburg create another decent opening when Muller whips in a low cross from the right and Gouaida arrives to meet it at the front post. He attempts to guide the ball into the roof of the net, but can't quite keep his effort down and sends it just over the bar.
At the midway point in this first half it's Dortmund who are very much in charge of the ball, but they haven't been able to trouble Drobny in between the sticks. Their final ball is just letting them down at the moment and they are attempting a lot of long passes, which are being easily cut out by the Hamburg defence.
SAVE! Once again it's the hosts who threaten to take the lead. Gouaida is found in acres of space down the left side of the box and he smashes in a low drive that Weidenfeller does well to keep out. Dortmund immediately break down the other end and Kagawa forces the keeper into a stop, but the flag was raised for an offside.
SAVE! After a quiet start this game looks like it's sprung into life and Dortmund have their first big chance. Aubameyang is slipped in down the right and drives into the box, before firing in a strike across goal looking for the top-left corner, but Drobny does well to tip his effort over the bar.
YELLOW CARD! I mentioned that Behrami was very lucky to avoid a booking in the opening minutes, but he is shown the first yellow card of the match for a late tackle on Bender.
It's end to end at the moment and the only thing missing here is a goal. It has taken quite a while to heat up, but both teams are creating chances now and are looking dangerous when they get into the final third.
Dortmund have done a great job of putting pressure on their opponents and in the past few minutes the Hamburg defence have looked just a bit shaky. If they get get to half time without conceding them I'm sure their manager will be delighted, as the visitors have visibly stepped it up a gear.
YELLOW CARD! It's another booking for a Hamburg player, as Muller is shown a card for a late challenge.
SHOT! Mkhitaryan has what could be the final effort on goal in this first half, as receives the ball in space outside the box and fancies his chances, but he ends up dragging the strike well wide.
HALF-TIME: Hamburger SV 0-0 Borussia Dortmund
It's half time at the Imtech Arena and we are still waiting for our first goal of the afternoon. Hamburg have had the better chances, while it is Dortmund who have dominated possession without really creating many decent openings.
Let's take a quick look at the statistics from that first half. With 62% of the possession, Dortmund have been well in charge, but they have had just two shots on goal, while Hamburg have managed just one more attempt than their opponents.
While the game has not threatened to boil over, we could easily have seen a red card. Behrami escaped an early booking for a foul on Mkhitaryan, before being shown a card for a poor challenge on Bender. He is walking a bit of a tightrope now and that is definitely something to look out for in the second half.
Hamburg take the kick off and get the second half started. We've also seen a change from the visitors, as Kampl is on for Kagawa.
Dortmund have an early chance to put some pressure on their opponents with a free kick in a decent position from the left touchline. Reus takes the set piece and whips in a teasing cross, but once again none of his teammates can make contact and Hamburg clear the danger.
The visitors are still well on top here and they have seen virtually of the ball since the break. They are still finding it hard to create any clear-cut chances though, with Hamburg holding solid at the back.
How many more times am I going to talk about Behrami escaping a card? He goes in round the back of Bender and while he appears to get a bit of the ball, he brings down his man and gives away the free kick. The referee was quickly over to sort out the situation and in the end decided against showing the Swiss midfielder a card.
CHANCES! It's been a while since Dortmund created any chances, but they have gone close twice within the space of a minute. Kampl is first to threaten with a strike that he drags wide from the edge of the box, before Reus is slipped through and attempts to find the corner from a tight angle, but he pulls his shot across goal and wide of the far post.
SUBSTITUTION: Hamburg are making a smart change here, as Behrami, who was just asking to be sent off, is replaced by Kacar.
CHANCE! Reus looks the man most likely to make something happen for Dortmund and he does well to bring down a long ball inside the box, before standing up a cross for Aubameyang. The striker attempts to direct a header into the bottom corner, but he can't quite get the direction or power he needs and it drops wide of the post.
YELLOW CARD! Mkhitaryan is the first Dortmund player to pick a booking this afternoon.
CHANCE! We haven't seen much of Hamburg as an attacking threat in this half, but they win a free kick in a very promising area around 25 yards out from goal. Stieber takes the set piece and looks to curl a strike into the corner, but Weidenfeller is across his goal well to push the ball behind.
YELLOW CARD! Hamburg have put in some heavy challenges today and Diekmeier is the latest player from the home side to be shown a card for a foul on Gundogan.
Out of the two teams, it's Dortmund who are looking more dangerous at the moment, but Hamburg sense that there may be an opportunity for them on the counter, with plenty of space for them to get in behind down the flanks.
YELLOW CARD! The booking continue to pile up for Hamburg and Cleber is booked for a high challenge on Mkhitaryan.
DOUBLE SUBSTITUTION: Dortmund are going to make a couple of changes, with Immobile and Blaszczykowski coming on for Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan.
Dortmund keep knocking at the door, but it just doesn't look like a goal is coming anytime soon. They are still getting into some good areas, but poor decisions have let them down, with Schmelzer dragging a shot wide from the edge of the box when he should have been looking to find a teammate.
SUBSTITUTION: Hamburg captain Van der Vaart is coming on for the final minutes, with Gouaida the man to make way.
YELLOW CARD! Van der Vaart has been on the pitch for less than a minute, but he is involved in a scuffle with Subotic, when he barges the defender into Weidenfeller. The players then squared up to each other and after getting a talking to from the referee, they are both booked.
It's become really scrappy at the moment, with a number of mistimed tackles flying in and passes going astray. A goal is looking increasingly unlikely, but there are a couple of players out there more than capable of producing a moment of magic out of the blue.
Dortmund are really going for it now and Kampl forces a corner with a powerful strike from just outside that box that takes the slightest of deflections. From the resulting set piece, the ball is eventually played to the unmarked Immobile at the back post, but his attempt at trying to pick out a teammate in the middle fails and Hamburg escape unscathed.
We are going to have two minutes of stoppage time.
FULL-TIME: Hamburger SV 0-0 Borussia Dortmund
The final whistle blows and it has ended goalless here in Hamburg. Dortmund edged the contest and will feel that they should have extended their winning run, but it could prove to be an important point for the home side in their battle against the drop.
Well, that's all for today's coverage, in what has been an engaging Bundesliga clash. We've got more live games for you across the weekend so make sure you stick around. Until then, goodbye!