Gladbach, the best Bundesliga team in the second half of last season, have yet to score a point, with Lucien Favre’s team misfiring and only two goals so far, while also leaving gaping holes in defence that have led to eight goals conceded and last spot in the Bundesliga.
The Swiss coach knows the return from injury of experienced defender Martin Stranzl and striker Andre Hahn, who came on as a substitute in their 2-1 loss to Werder Bremen, could not have come at a better time to plug the holes at the back and sharpen their scoring skills.
Hahn and the 35-year-old Stranzl, who has not played since March following a string of knee injuries, are needed to turn things around in the league and with the team travelling to Sevilla for their first Champions League group match next week.
“We have to claim back our lost confidence with positive results and we therefore need a quick success so that we do not have any negative thoughts settling,” Austria international Stranzl, hoping for a starting spot on Friday, said.
“After the game against Hamburg we have several busy weeks ahead of us, then it’s one game after another. That is why a win now would be extremely important. We have to keep working and believing in ourselves.”
Hamburg, who needed a relegation playoff last season to stay up, have got off to a somewhat better start with coach Bruno Labbadia’s team notching one win so far.
Labbadia will have captain Johan Djourou back from a muscle injury but will be without suspended fellow defender Emir Spahic.
“Gladbach want to get their first win. In their loss against Mainz 05 they were pressing, they missed chances, very unlucky,” Labbadia said. “It is certainly not the start they had expected.”
“It is surprising. It’s clear they don’t belong where they are now but we also want to win our first away game,” said Labbadia.
In-form leaders Borussia Dortmund could make it four wins on the trot when they take on against struggling Hanover 96, still without a win this season.
Champions Bayern Munich, level with Dortmund on nine points, host fellow Bavarians Augsburg on Saturday.
Last season’s runners-up VfL Wolfsburg travel to surprise package Ingolstadt, with the promoted club having won two out of their three league games so far.
(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; editing by Amlan Chakraborty)