Hamburg are in real danger of suffering relegation from the Bundesliga this season.
Hamburger SV are the only club in Germany who have competed in all 51 Bundesliga campaigns. Nicknamed the ‘Bundesliga Dinosaur’ because of this extraordinary achievement, they are now in serious danger of losing their top-flight status for the first time.
Captained by former Tottenham Hotspur and Real Madrid midfielder Rafael van der Vaart, they will be hoping to use his experience in their most important game in history. The 31-year-old Dutchman has seven goals and four assists this season, and it is clear that he has the club in his heart. He will fight hard this weekend and hope that his team-mates follow suit.
Die Rothosen will kick off this weekend occupying 16th position - the dreaded relegation playoff place, where they will actually be hoping to end the campaign. Five points behind Stuttgart in 15th, Hamburg cannot finish any higher than where they currently sit. If they match or better the result of Nurnberg this Saturday, then they will face one last chance of survival in a two-legged playoff tie against the team finishing third in the Bundesliga 2.
There are three Bundesliga titles and three European Cups in Hamburg's cabinet, but there will be only thing on their mind on Saturday – survival. A trip to seventh-placed Mainz awaits Hamburg, while Nurnberg travel to Schalke. Strange things happen in the world’s highest attended football league, and a Nurnberg victory in Gelsenkirchen is not completely unimaginable.
Things look bleak for Hamburg. They have had four managers and have the league’s worst defence; they also have the second-worst away record in the league with just nine points from their travels. What makes it worse for them is that Mainz are chasing European football and a win will put them into the Europa League qualification stage. A nail-biting finish is in store.