Bundesliga: Hamburg coach shrugs off title talk

November 1, 2007

BERLIN, Nov 1 (Reuters) - Hamburg SV look increasingly like Bayern Munich's biggest rivals on the domestic front but coach Huub Stevens is refusing to listen to title talk as his team prepare for Saturday's home game against Hertha Berlin.

'We just want to stay realistic,' Stevens said after a 1-0 win at Duisburg last weekend saw Hamburg climb to second place in the Bundesliga, four points behind Bayern.

'We're near the top now and that's pretty much where we want to be at the end of the season. Our goal is just to qualify for Europe.'

Hamburg followed Sunday's league victory over Duisburg with a 3-1 home win against Freiburg in the second round of the German Cup on Wednesday, stretching their unbeaten run to 10 matches in all competitions.

Rafael van der Vaart was among the scorers and with the Dutch playmaker back from injury they will have few fears ahead of Saturday's home game against Hertha, who went out of the Cup on Tuesday to third division Wuppertal.

Bayern just about managed to preserve their unbeaten start to the season when they drew at Borussia Dortmund last weekend.

On Wednesday they won 3-1 at home to second division Borussia Moenchengladbach, with two goals from prolific Italian striker Luca Toni and one from Miroslav Klose, to stay on course for a domestic double.

Franck Ribery missed that game and the French midfielder remains a doubt for Saturday's visit of Eintracht Frankfurt.

Werder Bremen, in third place, six points off the pace, looked good beating Duisburg 4-0 in the Cup on Wednesday. They host Hansa Rostock in one of six matches on Saturday.

Schalke 04, fifth with 18 points, get the 12th round of matches underway at bottom club Energie Cottbus on Friday.