Sat, Aug 23, 2003 - Page 18 News List

Hamburg look to kick start new season in Bayern test

NORTHERN OPTIMISM Despite a 3-0 thrashing last season, Hamburg coach Kurt Jara is confident his side can rise to the challenge and beat the southern kings

AFP , BERLIN

SV Hamburg coach Kurt Jara is counting on a change of fortune when his side take on reigning champions Bayern Munich at the AOL-Arena tomorrow with his team searching for their first win of the 2003/04 Bundesliga campaign.

Bayern crushed Hamburg 3-0 at the same venue last season but under pressure coach Jara is looking for a reaction from his team after a torrid start to the new season.

"What we built up in eight weeks has been broken down in 21 days," raged Jara after the 5-1 thrashing by VfL Wolfsburg last Sunday.

Hamburg will take heart from their win on penalty kicks in the semifinal of the League Cup, a competition they won with a 4-2 triumph against Borussia Dortmund.

Bayern have yet to lose in the Bundesliga and could be boosted by the return of talisman midfielder Michael Ballack.

The German international missed the friendly with Italy due to a calf complaint but has an outside chance of travelling to Hamburg.

"If he can train with the team we will consider playing him at the weekend," coach Ottmar Hitzfeld told German newspaper <>.

Hitzfeld also confirmed that Dutch international striker Roy Makaay would be handed another chance to notch his first Bundesliga goal after failing to find the net in the 2-0 win over VfL Bochum last Saturday.

Bayer Leverkusen hope to extend their 100 percent record to four Bundesliga games after collecting nine points from their opening three fixtures in the German top-flight.

Klaus Augenthaler's troops face VfL Bochum at the Ruhr Stadium today and will be fully aware of the potential stumbling block against a side that garnered six points from them last season.

Peter Neururer's side won 2-1 in Bochum last time around and the 48-year-old manager is confident of ending the winning streak of Bayer with their first victory of the new season.

"We will beat Leverkusen," vowed Neururer. "We managed it twice last season."

Eight points separate pace-setters Bayer from 14th placed Bochum.

Jupp Heynckes will look to build on Schalke 04's 2-1 win over Cologne last Sunday with another three points against Werder Bremen at the Weserstadion.

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