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Head coach Jos Luhukay took time out on Friday morning to field questions from the Hamburg media for the last time in 2019. Ahead of the final game of the year against Arminia Bielefeld, the Dutchman spoke about...

...Arminia Bielefeld: "What I was saying about Bielefeld at the start of the season has come 100 per cent true. They can give all the big teams a run for their money and they've shown that in impressive fashion. Conceding a late equaliser there might have been disappointing for us, but it's no surprise Bielefeld are riding high now. The coach has a clear philosophy and they have two exceptional players in Fabian Klos and Andreas Voglsammer who have already scored 22 goals between them, which is more than we have put together. They're extremely valuable for Arminia Bielefeld and capable of reaching 40 goals this season. Klos has been one of the best players in the league for years in my view. They're also a good collective, though. They're so well organised in every department and carry a huge threat up front. Things are looking really good for them because they're so effective, which brings them points."

...his own team: " In the last two games against Bielefeld we've shown we aren't without a chance. We have to be brave and believe in ourselves. The players need to work their socks off, believe they have a chance and play good football. The last two games against Bielefeld were evenly balanced throughout. We always perform well against the top teams and have had success against them as well. We'll do all we can to leave a really good impression as we go into the Christmas break. I'm absolutely convinced my players have the quality to hold their own against Arminia Bielefeld, but we don't just want to hold our own, we want to win."

...the players back from injury: "Two players resumed full training this week in Daniel Buballa and Johannes Flum. I'll speak to them both after the final training session to see to what extent they're ready to face Bielefeld and whether they can start. Both have made a very good impression on me and I'd be delighted if they were in the squad. Daniel Buballa was in the form of his life and having an impressive season until his injury. Not a day goes by without him investing in himself. He's our captain and he's so good for us with his personality, his character and his ambition. Johannes Flum is another accomplished player who helps the team and supports his teammates with his experience."

...the players ruled out: "Mats Møller Dæhli has a bruised calf and is definitely ruled out for the game against Bielefeld. Dimitrios Diamantakos resumed full training this week but the game comes around a little too early for him."

...the permutations in central defence: "Philipp Ziereis is back from suspension, and so it's very positive for me to have an additional option in central defence. Leo Østigård has also done extremely well in recent games, of course. Ultimately, the makeup of our central defence will also depend on whether Daniel Buballa is available to play."

...the first half of the season: "We have to take a sober and realistic view. We've often been the better team but have given away a lot of points in the closing stages and no other team has had as many injury problems to contend with as we have. When that improves and we become more effective, we'll start picking up more points in the second half of the season. What I've seen in the 17 games so far gives me no cause for concern whatsoever. I have confidence in the team, and I believe in the team. I can read the table, but I see my team day in, day out, and that makes me feel really positive."


Photos: Witters