Leaky Karlsruhe make the seven-and-a-half-hour drive to stalemate specialists Hansa Rostock tomorrow lunchtime for a clash between two of the second division’s strugglers. The visitors sit one point and place above their hosts in15th, but they’ve lost five games on the spin, conceding 15 goals in the process. Despite being a Karlsruhe native who represented the club in his playing career, coach Rainer Scharinger is under serious pressure, and has been told by general manager Oliver Kreuzer that losing this tie is “forbidden”. Hansa, on the other hand, come into this game without a single win to their name (unlike Karlsruhe, who won on the opening day of the season, and managed to win their DFB-Pokal match in regulation time). However, tomorrow’s hosts have drawn four of their last six games 0-0, and teams visiting the DKB-Arena find them extremely difficult to break down.
Coach Peter Vollmann knew Hansa would be in for a relegation scrap this season, but signings for him to use have been thin on the ground. The three most notable purchases have been Czech defender Pavel Košťál (signed from the Austrian Bundesliga), attacker Michael Blum (signed from Duisburg), and Slovakian international striker Marek Mintál (brought in after eight years at Nuremberg). When fit, the latter has been a key player in the central attacking-midfield role of the 4-2-3-1-cum-4-4-2 deployed by Vollmann this season, which seems to be extremely well-disciplined but collectively guilty of profligacy in front of goal. However, Mintál isn’t expected to be fit enough to feature against Karlsruhe, and will join Stephan Gusche and Košťál in the stands.
Karlsruhe, who nearly lost their 2. Bundesliga status last season due to a lack of goals, face a Hansa side – who were in the third-tier last season – on the back of Monday night’s 2-0 defeat to St Pauli. Karlsruhe were outclassed in every department, and found consistently holding the ball up in the opponents’ half of the pitch difficult. One of the strikers deployed to do this during that game was Louis Ngwat-Mahop. However, the Cameroonian fractured his ankle in training during the week (“this is tragic for him and a very big loss for us,” said Scharinger), and will now miss the next four months of the 2. Bundesliga season. The 24-year-old joins three other strikers in the treatment room, with Andrei Cristea, Marco Terrazzino and Moses Lamidi also set to miss out on the trip to Rostock.
Despite this shortage of strikers, both Scharinger and Kreuzer are confident that their team has what it takes to win against Hansa, and were impressed by the fighting spirit shown against a technically-superior St Pauli side. “It was important to build the team and give her courage on Monday,” said the coach, while the manager added: “This team wants to score, and this game in Rostock comes at just the right time.” Their team will have to cut out the defensive mistakes if they are to win this game, however, with Mohammed Lartey’s runs from deep a particularly penetrative weapon in the Hansa arsenal.
Hansa Rostock against Karlsruhe kicks off at 12.30pm in the UK, and can be watched live on Bet365.com.