New Hamburg boss Slomka relishing Dortmund test
New Hamburg coach Mirko Slomka has said he is relishing hosting Borussia Dortmund on Saturday as he begins the task of escaping the relegation places to ensure his new club's Bundesliga survival.
Slomka penned a two-year deal as Hamburg coach on Monday, replacing ex-Netherlands boss Bert van Marwijk who was sacked last Saturday with the club second from bottom and on an eight-match losing streak.
The 46-year-old Slomka has just 13 matches left to prevent former European champions Hamburg being relegated from Germany's top flight for the first time.
And he has a tough opener against a resurgent Dortmund side who have won their last four matches and are eager to reclaim second spot in the league.
Jurgen Klopp's Dortmund will be using the match to tune up for Tuesday's Champions League last 16, first-leg trip to Russia to face Zenit St Petersburg having hammered Eintracht Frankfurt 4-0 at home last Saturday.
"The challenge of facing Dortmund is a good measuring stick for us," said Slomka.
"Everyone knows them and how they play, but we have a home game and, as I already have said and will keep on saying, we must win our home games.
"And I am sure the fans will give their support on Saturday."
Some 800 supporters turned out to watch Slomka's first training session on Monday.
The response was a far cry from their last home game when angry fans pelted the team and attacked their cars following the 3-0 defeat to Hertha Berlin two weeks ago.
Both sides have injury concerns with Hamburg missing captain Rafael van der Vaart, who suffered an ankle injury in last Saturday's 4-2 loss at bottom side Eintracht Braunschweig which led to Van Marwijk's dismissal.
Dortmund hope to welcome back winger Marco Reus, although centre-back Mats Hummels is expected to miss out as his ankle injury continues to heal.
- Bayern's record league run -
League leaders Bayern Munich are at mid-table Hanover 96 on Sunday evening looking to maintain their 16-point lead at the top of the table and extend their unbeaten league run to 47 matches.
Bayern coach Pep Guardiola will be without France winger Franck Ribery, who also missed their 2-0 win at Arsenal on Wednesday in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie as he recovers from buttock surgery.
But Ribery, 30, has said he is targeting a return against Schalke 04 next Saturday.
Meanwhile, Bayern's Germany midfielder Toni Kroos, who scored their first goal at Arsenal, is no closer to agreeing to a new Munich deal past 2015, with wages being the main stumbling block.
"There are no further discussions planned in the near future," he told German magazine Kicker with a host of Premier League clubs chasing his signature.
Schalke host Mainz 05 on Friday hoping to pick up a morale-boosting fifth straight win before Wednesday's Champions League visit of Real Madrid.
Both centre-back Benedikt Hoewedes and attacking midfielder Julian Draxler are set to return to the Schalke side after injury.
Second-placed Bayer Leverkusen need to bounce back from their 4-0 home defeat at the hands of Paris Saint-Germain in the last 16 of the Champions League on Tuesday.
Sami Hyypia's Leverkusen have lost all of their last three home games and have suffered six defeats in their last eight matches as they prepare to travel to European hopefuls Wolfsburg.
Fixtures (All times 1430 GMT unless stated)
Schalke 04 v Mainz 05 (1930)
Bor. Moenchengladbach v Hoffenheim, VfB Stuttgart v Hertha Berlin, Nuremberg v Eintracht Braunschweig, Freiburg v Augsburg, Hamburg v Borussia Dortmund, VfL Wolfsburg v Bayer Leverkusen (1730)
Eintracht Frankfurt v Werder Bremen, Hanover 96 v Bayern Munich (1630)