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Jol’s Hamburg ready for penalties

SoccerNews in Bundesliga, UEFA Europa League 6 May 2009

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Hamburg coach Martin Jol admits he is tempted to make sure his side practice penalties ahead of Thursday night’s UEFA Cup semi-final, second leg at home as they hold a slim 1-0 lead over Werder Bremen.

Germany winger Piotr Trochowski gave Hamburg a slight advantage from Bremen’s Weserstadion last Thursday and his away goal could well make the difference, but Jol wants to prepare his side in case of the dreaded penalties.

“Maybe I will have the lads practice penalties,” said Jol ahead of the all-German derby.

“If I do, it will be behind closed doors in the stadium.”

With a place at the final in the Istanbul final on May 20 up for grabs, Hamburg hope to have striker Mladen Petric back from a leg injury.

The Croatian forward trained amongst the reserve team players on Tuesday and a late fitness test will determine whether he plays in the HSH Nordbank Arena clash.

Peru striker Paolo Guerrero sustained a bruised ankle during the 1-1 Bundesliga home draw against Hertha Berlin last Sunday and will sit out the game with a suspension after picking up a third booking in the first leg.

But Jol says the mood in the camp is positive with his side also battling for the Bundesliga title.

“Things are going well for us. We have reached the month of May and we have several crucial games ahead,” said Jol.

“It doesn’t get any better for a player.

“We prepare for games in exactly the same way as we have prepared for previous ones.”

Bremen midfielder Mesut Oezil admits he is struggling to be fit in time after the Germany Under-21 star damaged his knee.

“I will fight to be able to start on Thursday against Hamburg,” said Oezil.

“I am still not 100 per cent right, I still have pain in both knees, but it is getting better.”

Oezil, Brazilian playmaker Diego, who has a back injury, and striker Hugo Almeida, with a sore heal, are struggling to be fit, but all three are hopeful, says Bremen coach Thomas Schaaf.

But Bremen will be without Daniel Jensen (Achilles’ tendon inflammation), Jurica Vranjes (back problems) and Christian Vander (knee injury) will not travel to Hamburg.

The winners of the tie are already assured of playing a Ukrainian side in the final, with Shakhtar Donetsk hosting Dynamo Kiev in the other semi-final second leg.

The hosts hold a slight advantage, having scored an away goal last Thursday in a 1-1 draw in Kiev.

Victory for Shakhtar would represent some consolation for the likelihood of them surrendering their national title to their opponents, who require just a point from their final four matches of the season to win the league.

Shakhtar’s Dmytro Chygrynskiy will be praying for a home victory more than anyone as it was his own goal that gifted Kiev the lead in the first leg.

“We have come so far in the UEFA Cup this season and have no right to disappoint our fans now,” he told the UEFA website.

Even though Shakhtar, known as the ‘Pitmen’, have won all their home UEFA Cup matches 2-0 this season – and beat Kiev 1-0 the last time they hosted them in the league – Chygrynskiy isn’t taking anything for granted.

“We haven’t looked over that last home game (against Kiev) because they were a different team then,” he said.

“Now its quite a new team so we have analysed their more recent matches.”

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