Hamburg have not dropped out of the top division of German football since the formation of the Bundesliga in 1963. By the end of this season, however, that could change.
What makes this looming threat all the more painful for Hamburg is that they could be playing in the second division for the first time during their centenary year. What should be a celebratory toast to one of Germany’s great domestic sides could end up being a humiliating year devoid of any sense of jollification.
The club’s fate appears to have become a real possibility after they could only draw 0-0 at home to Mainz-a place above them in the table-in what was a must-win game for Bernd Hollerbach’s team.
On what was a hugely frustrating afternoon for Hamburg on Saturday, a succession of chances were wasted, most notably a missed penalty from Filip Kostic 15 minutes into the second half.
— Hamburger SV (@HSV) March 3, 2018
Mainz were reduced to ten men after the penalty was awarded with Leon Balogun receiving his marching orders for his second yellow. Despite the man advantage, Hamburg could not find the all-important goal they so desperately needed.
With 18 attempts on goal in comparison to the visitors’ five, the game was there for the taking for Hamburg. However, having only scored 18 goals all season, the home side showed once again why they are in the mire since they have simply not been good enough in front of goal.
The Dinosaurs have scored 11 less goals than Mainz this season, and remain seven points off their weekend opponents as well as Wolfsburg, who are also on 25 points.
Hamburg’s shortage of goals is strikingly clear with striker Bobby Wood only scoring once all season. With Pierre-Michel Lassoga on loan at Leeds United-where he has found the net 10 times-Hollerbach’s side have had sparse options when it comes to goal scoring.
The new manager has had the same problems as his predecessor, Markus Gisdol, who was sacked in January. While the former has solidified the defence, he has not solved the problem of how to score more consistently, which was again evident on Saturday.
Almost admitting the prospect of survival was slim, a gutted Hollerbach said: ”This is not a beautiful moment for us today. Basically, we just missed this one key moment. We set everything up. I’m incredibly sorry for the team and the fans.”
With a capacity of 57,000 at their Volksparkstadion ground, as well as six league titles to their name, Hamburg will undoubtedly be a big loss to the German top-flight. After 55 seasons at the highest level, they are staring relegation firmly in the face.
No goals in two games against relegation rivals Werder Bremen and Mainz, and just a solitary point, means Hamburg will now have to pull off something miraculous to retain their top-level status.
With Bayern Munich up next, it is not looking good since it is highly-likely they could be cut further adrift after playing away to the runaway leaders. The following week is a huge game against mid-table Hertha Berlin.
Anything less than three points from that and it really is curtains for this sleeping giant of German football.