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Himmelman: "We want to show our brand of attacking football in the derby"

Friday evening's derby (18:30 CET) is not simply a question of three points for the Boys in Brown, it is also about local pride. Goalkeeper Robin Himmelmann, who has not missed a minute’s derby action in the second division thus far, keeping three clean sheets in the process, aims to contribute to the success of the trip across the city with another a good performance. We spoke at length to our number 30 ahead of the fifth derby at this level.

Hi, Robin. Tomorrow night’s derby is almost upon us. How excited are you?

I'm looking forward to it and the feeling of nervous anticipation is becoming more intense as the game gets closer. On the day itself, it'll increase more and more.

It's your fifth derby already, is it becoming more a routine thing for you?

I've played in four derbies now and have seen it all in that time. We’ve had everything, from a boring first derby, when no one wanted to make a mistake, and a desolate showing in the second, to two sensational performances from us. I don't know if you can call that routine. I won't prepare any differently whatever the case. We'd do well to prepare to face a good team in the normal way. That's certainly what I'm going to do.

You'll also have to prepare for a maximum of 1,000 spectators again.

It's a real pity there'll be 1,000 fans there at most. It doesn't do the occasion justice at all. That’s the big difference compared with all the previous games. Neither I nor anyone else has played a derby under such conditions.

You've kept three clean sheets in those four derbies and are still to concede at the Volkspark. Is another shutout the prime aim?

Definitely. Our focus is on completing the 90 minutes without conceding a goal, though that's the case for every game, not just the derby. Unfortunately, we haven't managed to do that in the league recently. Our first few games showed we're capable of creating chances and are always good for a goal. We'll get our chances tomorrow, so it'll be important not to concede for the full 90 minutes, if possible. I'd be delighted if we could keep a clean sheet, not just for me, but also for our defence and for the team as a whole.

Robin Himmelmann has kept a clean sheet on each of his two appearances at the Volkspark, as here in the first derby in September 2018, which ended scoreless.

Robin Himmelmann has kept a clean sheet on each of his two appearances at the Volkspark, as here in the first derby in September 2018, which ended scoreless.

Our previous derby goalscorers are no longer around. Who can assume the mantle from Dimitrios Diamantakos, Henk Veerman and Matt Penney?

There are several candidates in the team. Kofi has already shown how dangerous he is in front of goal, and Simon always carries a threat in the box. The fact that none of the previous derby goalscorers is still around doesn't worry me at all. We have the odd player or two who's capable of adding to the list of derby scorers.

You're up against a potent HSV lineup led by leading scorer Simon Terodde (six goals already this season). How much work are you expecting?

It's hard to say. Sometimes I think I'm going to be kept really busy and then there's not much to do and sometimes it's the other way round. I'm just preparing for the task of defending against HSV because they're a quality side. There's no need to be afraid of it, but you have to be aware of it. Be it Simon Terodde popping up from nowhere when he needs to after being largely anonymous. He has a knack for knowing where to position himself and where the ball will come. We have to have him on our radar, but he's not the only one. We can't afford to ignore any of the others.

Both teams have shown comeback qualities so far this season. HSV have won twice after going behind, we've been behind in three of our five games and still managed to claim a point in the end.

I'd rather we didn't put ourselves in the position of having to chase a deficit in the first place, of course. That requires a lot of work and effort, especially from the back. That's what you take from games like the opening day at Bochum, where we were 2-0 down and still turned it round just before the end. We saw there that we're capable of scoring late on and coming from behind. That gives you a certain belief for the games to come, as we saw at Darmstadt recently. That belief plays an important role.

What do you have to do tomorrow night to get at least a point and, in the best case, complete a derby triple?

All the things we've had to do in every other league game this season. We have to be ready from the first minute and defend our goal. On the one hand, we want to defend our goal with good compactness and defensive organisation, but on the other we want to be brave as well. We aren't going to park the bus at the back and hope something will happen up front at some point. We want to show our brand of attacking football - with courage, consistency and alertness - and in so doing put ourselves in a position where we can earn and deserve the victory. You need a bit of luck, as in the most recent derby when the early stages weren't that brilliant and we could have had no complaints if we'd gone 2-0 down.


Photos: Witters