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Sports

Hamburg, Karlsruhe line up in Bundesliga playoff

They may be six-time German champions, but for the second season in a row Hamburg has been forced into a playoff to secure their famed Bundesliga status. The match is set to take place on Thursday night local time.

Hamburg are the only side never to have been relegated since the current German top flight came into being in 1963. On Thursday evening they take on second division third-placed team Karlsruhe at home in the first leg of a playoff, as they hope to extend their uninterrupted stay in the top flight.

The Hamburg side, who have been under-performing once again this season until they grabbed a crucial win on the last day of the season, just managed to beat Greuther Fuerth last year in the same fixture.

Coach Bruno Labbadia, only recruited by Hamburg in April as they attempted to avoid the drop, was celebrating on Saturday but knows another nervous couple of games await.

"Karlsruhe have played a good season and are established in the second tier. They will be two very intense games," he said. "We have no reason for arrogance on the day."

Hamburg forward Pierre-Michel Lasogga is in doubt for the first leg with a shoulder injury as is Karlsruhe's top scorer this season, Rouwen Hennings. Both are likely to be fit for the return leg in Karlsruhe on Monday, June 1.

Hamburg will definitely be without the injured Marcell Jansen, Valon Behrami and Jaroslav Drobny for the first leg, but captain Rafael van der Vaart will return after serving a yellow card suspension.

al/rd (dpa, SID)

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