Hamburg will have yet another chance to save their atrocious Bundesliga season when they take on Greuther Furth in today’s play-off first leg.
The seven time German champions have never been relegated since the formation of the Bundesliga in 1963.
Despite losing their last five games of the season, Hamburg managed to cling on to the play-off spot thanks to an identical run of defeats for the two teams that finished below them, FC Nurnberg and Eintracht Braunschweig.
Indeed, for those of us who were old enough to remember the club’s glory days of the early 1980’s when the iconic white and blue outfit blitzed German football to win five major domestic and continental cups, Hamburg’s threat of relegation might come as shock.
In reality based on the club’s form in the 2013-14 Bundesliga season it is fair to say that Mirko Slomka’s side are very fortunate to be given the chance of a life time to battle it out with a second division side in the form of Greuther Furth to avoid a very costly and embarrassing relegation.
Hamburg have only been able to win seven games all season, whilst also going on to lose an eye watering 21 games during a season where the club were originally targeting European football.
Indeed, the Imtech Arena outfit have also conceded the most goals in the Bundesliga this season, with their porous defence shipping an eye-watering 75 goals.
Perhaps one of the reasons for Hamburg’s massive decline is that they have gone through four managers this season with three out of the four falling to find a remedy to ease the club’s Bundesliga woes.
Slomka, who was only took over the reins in February now have the unprecedented task of saving Hamburg’s blushes once again.
In his pre-match press conference, the German manager calmly and readily admitted there was huge pressure on his side to provide a positive ending in the clubs worst season in history, but nevertheless exuded an air of optimism.
He said: “There hasn’t been a single day since I’ve been here when we haven’t been under pressure. We are the Bundesliga side and the favourites. Furth have played very well this season, but this will be a huge challenge this season.”
Indeed, this is the type of negativity that fuels the engines of the Bavarian outfit who are desperate to be promoted to the first tier of German football at the first attempt of trying.
This comes after Furtrh were relegated from the Bundesliga almost a year to the day, having only recorded 21 points out of a possible 102.
The Bavarians remain clear underdogs against their illustrious opponents, but head coach Frank Kramer welcomed the swipe, refuting any claims that the team might still be disappointed at having missed out on automatic promotion, after dropping points in five of their last nine games.
He said: “We don’t need to hide and we’re comfortable with being underdogs. We know who we are playing against, but we know that we can cause them problems in the game.
“We can look back on a great season, but we’ll be putting that satisfaction to one side when it comes to the next two matches.”
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