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Professionals, 31. May 2023

“Well-equipped for both games”

Sebastian Hoeneß on Thursday’s relegation play-off first leg against Hamburger SV (kick-off 20:45 CEST).

VfB head coach Sebastian Hoeneß will be able to call on centre-back Dan-Axel Zagadou again for the relegation play-off first leg against Hamburger SV. “Daxo trained today – he’s fit,” the 41-year-old said on Wednesday, adding that it is “touch and go” whether goalkeeper Fabian Bredlow will recover in time for Thursday’s clash. The 28-year-old suffered a tear to his medial collateral knee ligament during the warm-up ahead of Saturday’s game against TSG Hoffenheim. “Fabi was back in training today,” Hoeneß explained. “If he’s not fit for Thursday evening, Flo Müller is ready [to step in].”

Positive tension

While the draw with Hoffenheim on Matchday 34 and the subsequent 16th-place finish naturally left the players downcast, they were quick to shake off their frustrations. “In the aftermath of the game, we were obviously disappointed not to have secured immediate survival,” Hoeneß continued. “But our focus now is fully on HSV. When I took charge at VfB we were 18th [in last place]. Now we’re 16th and survival is still in our own hands. We see this as a huge opportunity, because for 180 minutes our survival is in our hands. I sense that spirit in the squad. We’re ready and will tackle the situation along with everything it throws at us.”

There is little sign of nerves among the VfB players. On the contrary, Hoeneß insists his side are fully focused on the job at hand. “The pressure is obviously increasing ahead of these two important games, but I’m confident we’re well equipped – both in terms of our approach and our mentality – for both matches,” the Stuttgart boss added. “Hamburg have good individual players and cause their opponents problems when in possession. Their style of play also carries risks, though. We hope to be able to cause them problems with our strength in attack.”