Date: 7th April 2009 at 5:13pm
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GB: Continuing our series of link ups with our European opponents, Vital MC exclusively talks to Jim of The Hamburg SV Supporters Club as the big game approaches…

DE: Wir naehern uns dem grossen Spiel und setzen unsere Serie von ‘link ups’ mit unseren europaeischen Gegnern fort und ‘Vital Man City’ spricht exclusiv mit Jim vom Hamburger SV Supporters Club…

1. There’s no doubt about it, Hamburg are a successful, strong side right now and are real contenders for Bundesliga champions. How do you feel that your season is going, particularly in Europe?

The season so far has been a tremendous success. It’s only a couple of years since this team were struggling against relegation with an appalling disciplinary record.

And last summer saw some of the best players sold: Van Der Vaart went to Real Madrid and of course Vincent Kompany went to Manchester City. Then in January we lost Nigel De Jong (to City again) and Olic signed a pre-contract with Bayern. But the new players that signed have settled in well and we are really pleased to be still fighting on 3 fronts – League, Cup and UEFA Cup.

2. Who are Hamburg’s danger men and star players that City need to be aware of?

Most of the goals come from Petric and Olic, the two Croatians. They both scored at Wembley in the Steve McLaren farewell match.

Olic is a real 100% player who chases everything. Sometimes you will think there is a dog on the pitch! Petric is more precise with his play, a more technical player.

The other main goal scorer is Paolo Guerrero, the Peruvian who signed from Bayern Munich last year. In midfield, the main creative player is German international Piotr Trochowski, a flying pacy player. But watch out for a tricky winger Pitroipa who gave City a tough time in the pre-season friendly. He signed last summer from Second division Freiburg and is just beginning to have an impact on the first team.

3. How is Martin Jol, the ex Tottenham manager doing in the eyes of the Hamburg fans?

He is a real hero. His teams are more attacking than under the last coach, Huub Stevens. Sometimes, they have lost some really easy games, but they do keep attacking right to the end and more often than not, that can get you the results.

4. Time for you to welcome Man City, probably wearing a ‘blaze orange’ third kit. Smell the fear or relax with a Pils?

Overall, its not a game that I particularly fear.

Of course we respect City as a team with some very good players: Robinho, Steven Ireland, Shaun Wright-Philips as well as our two old boys De Jong and Kompany.

But City don’t seem to have much consistency and team play this season – it seems they are not better than the sum of their parts, whereas Hamburg are the opposite. We certainly won’t relax with a Pils’ until we are 4 goals up in the last 10 minutes of the second leg. But neither will we smell the fear.

5. Who are the City players that you expect will be the main threat to Hamburg reaching the UEFA Cup semi final?

Of course, Robinho and Ireland are great players. But the biggest threats could come from players like Micah Richards, Nedum Onuoha. Our forward will have to work hard to keep the big defenders occupied.

6. What is your impression of Manchester’s one, true football club?

Well, they have a tremendous fan-base and history. And some very talented players although not really a team at the moment. maybe the owners must learn a little about football – its not just like children collecting football-cards and a team takes more time to build.

7. What’s your prediction for Thursday’s result?

My football predictions are notoriously wayward. But for what its worth, I expect on Thursday Hamburg 3 Manchester City 1.

– GB: Respect and many thanks to Jim and good luck Hamburg. May the best team with an Irish goalkeeper win!

– DE: Respekt und vielen Dank an Jim, viel Glueck Hamburg, soll das beste Team mit einem irischen Torhueter gewinnen!

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