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Defending the derby double "with cool heads and fire in our hearts"

It's derby time again! The Boys in Brown go to HSV on Friday evening (18:30 CET) looking to defend the double they completed over their local rivals last term. Solely in terms of the table, the Boys in Brown are the outsiders going into the game against the league leaders, who have yet to drop a point, but past results count for nothing in a derby. After four raucous second-division encounters, only 1,000 fans tops will be inside the ground this time due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Eight months have passed since the last meeting of the two sides, but the scenes remain fresh in the memory. After enjoying some good fortune early on, the Boys in Brown put in a storming performance full of fighting spirit, passion and elan to win their second derby of the season 2-0 at the Volkspark on 22 February. "Winning both games in a season was really special," said Marvin Knoll in the run-up.

The Boys in Brown will have to give it all they've got again on Friday evening. "We aim to hang on to our title, of course," said Knoll. " If we’re going to take something from the Volkspark, we have to go into the game with cool heads and fire in our hearts and find another top performance," Knoll continued. "We know what the game means to the club and the fans. They won't be there, but we know they're behind us," he added.

Eight goals, four by each side, have been scored in the previous four second-division derbies, all of which unfolded in a raucous atmosphere created by a capacity crowd. None of the goalscorers will be involved when the Boys in Brown walk out on Friday evening, however. Dimitrios Diamantakos (Hajduk Split), Henk Veerman (SC Heerenveen) and Matt Penney (Sheffield Wednesday) have all left the club. "We have the odd player who's capable of adding to the list of derby scorers," said goalkeeper Robin Himmelmann, who has kept a clean sheet in both games at the Volkspark.

Double goalscorers Pierre-Michel Lasogga (Al-Arabi SC, Qatar) and Douglas Costa (Zenit Saint Petersburg) are no longer in the HSV squad, though Khaled Narey, scorer of the second goal in a 4-0 victory in March 2019, is. Rick van Drongelen, who put through his own net in September 2019, is still at HSV but is missing after tearing a cruciate ligament.

HSV have made their best-ever start to a season. After a comfortable 3-0 victory at Dynamo Dresden in the DFB Cup, they have won all five league games under new boss Daniel Thioune. Like last year, the first derby takes place on the sixth day of the season, and as on that occasion a little more than 13 months ago, when the Boys in Brown won 2-0 at the Millerntor to inflict a first defeat of the season on HSV, they aim to put one over the unbeaten league leaders again.

"We want to be the ones who end HSV's run," said Himmelmann. After the 2-0 win on their last visit to the Volkspark, the keeper emphasised how happy the team were to have gifted their fans that moment. With the same fighting spirit, the same passion and the same elan as in February, Himmelmann, Knoll and all the other Boys in Brown aim to give them another derby moment to savour on Friday evening, even though the fans cannot be there themselves.

 

Photos: Witters

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