The prospect of a fan invasion made the boss laugh. When Hamburger SV meets Hertha BSC this Thursday (8.30 p.m., in the WELT live ticker) in the Olympic Stadium, around 25,000 supporters of the second division team could create an atmosphere like at a home game. In any case, the pre-sale and the anger of some Berlin fans because of a number of problems with the ticket purchase suggest that this is the case.

“The boys and girls supported us the whole time on the away trips, the blocks were full. That’s why it’s great,” said HSV coach Tim Walter before the relegation first leg. “You can see that the identity that HSV has recently recreated throughout the season is being well received. It’s just incredibly fun to feel the support. The HSV stands for something again, that is honored.

It is still unclear what the image gain will ultimately lead to in public perception. But Walter and his family can already say for themselves that the trend speaks for them compared to the starving first division club. After the 29th matchday, HSV not only won all five games in the second division, they also advanced from sixth place to relegation rank – and now, for the first time since relegation in 2018, have the longed-for return to Germany’s top football class in their own hands.

“We still have two games that have a cup character,” explains Walter. Therefore, there was no reason to freak out after the 3-2 win in Rostock on Sunday afternoon. “A brief joy is good because we did something for the positive season and the development of the team and we earned something. But the focus is now completely on what is to come,” says Walter.

The fact that HSV not only meets a financial heavyweight in the industry thanks to the 375 million euros from investor Lars Windhorst, but also their own club legend, they try not to hang too high in the Hanseatic city before the first showdown. Felix Magath, 68, has been training Hertha BSC since mid-March – the man who played 306 Bundesliga games as a player for HSV, became German champion three times and achieved cult status with his 1-0 winning goal in the final of the 1983 state championship cup against Juventus Turin .

“Felix and I know each other well. But we haven’t met on the field yet,” says Walter, who only made it into the league as a player. “Felix has achieved a lot as a footballer and coach, so he has more experience than me. Nevertheless, we are young and hungry, we are full of energy and full of anticipation. We’re brave, I think that’s what we might have ahead of Hertha. Due to the fact that we won the last five games, that we caught up seven points in the games,” says the HSV coach. “I think that’s the priority. We’re just looking forward to those games and less looking forward to meeting him.”

In contrast to Walter, who was the only HSV coach in league two to have played a stronger second half than the first half, Magath’s record is rather mediocre. In the eight games since joining, he has scored ten points with his team, but missed a match point three times: Both the 1-1 win in Bielefeld and the two 1-2 defeats against Mainz and Dortmund would be an early rescue been in for Hertha. Now Magath and his team have to go into extra time, which nobody in Berlin’s Westend district really wanted.

One scene in particular hangs in the memory of the Hertha team. In a 1-0 lead in Bielefeld shortly before the end, the two substitutes Luca Wollschläger and Maximilian Mittelstädt ran freely towards Arminia’s goalkeeper Stefan Ortega after a counterattack, but managed to miss the 100 percent chance. In injury time, Bielefeld’s Joakim Nilsson finally managed to equalize.

Instead of getting rid of all worries with the win and three points on the 32nd match day, the Hertha camp often talks about “ifs”, “ifs” and “buts”. This is of little help in reality, and so Magath gives the route for the duel on Thursday and the second leg next Monday.

“There is no reason to go into the task with a bad feeling. We’re in good form, we’ll show that twice more,” emphasized the interim coach on Wednesday at the training camp in Kienbaum. “The fact is, if you look at it objectively, since I’ve been in charge, we’ve made a positive development. Anyone who saw the game in Dortmund saw two first division teams, and we were one of them.”