Bundesliga playoff: High noon for Hamburg and its proud record | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 31.05.2015
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Bundesliga playoff: High noon for Hamburg and its proud record

Hamburg's famous clock, ticking the hours and minutes since 1963, could stop if they are relegated. But Bruno Labbadia's side are still defiant with Karlsruhe in the driving seat.

After months of uneasiness at the bottom of the table, Hamburg's 51-year Bundesliga stay could come to an end when they head to Karlsruhe on Monday. The match is the return leg of the relegation playoff with the scores tied at 1-1.

The task at hand couldn't be clearer: Hamburg must score. As it stands, Karlsruhe would progress with an away goal advantage even if the scores were goalless over the second 90 minutes at the Wildpark Stadium.

But don't expect the second division side, which was last relegated from the Bundesliga in 2009, to rest on their laurels. Karlsruhe finished third in Germany's second division, but has recovered from a drop to the third division in recent years.

Fighting talk

"We want to win this match at home, so we will play accordingly rather than hanging on for a result," said Karlsruhe coach Markus Kaucinski, who also admitted his side wouldn't force the issue either with the onus on Hamburg.

"We want to produce the same kind of dedicated performance as we did in Hamburg," Kaucinski explained. "I'm certain that with the support of our fans we will even be able to take our performance up another notch."

Karlsruhe took the lead after just four minutes in the first leg in Hamburg when top scorer Rouwen Hennings slammed home a special strike against his former club. Chances were missed after the break as Hamburg decided to pile on the pressure, but the hosts managed to finally equalize through Ivo Ilicevic's equalizer.

History on the line

Relegationsspiel Hamburger SV vs Karlsruher SC

Frustration for Hamburg as the first leg ended 1-1

One of the founding members of the Bundesliga in 1963, Hamburg has never been relegated. It's a proud record for the northern German club whose glory era came in the 1970s and 1980s with domestic and European honors.

But, similarly in last season's relegation playoff, Hamburg has to deliver in the last 90 minutes of the season. "We are now facing a final and if we win it, we'll stay in the Bundesliga," said the club's head coach Bruno Labbadia.

Three wins from their last five regular season games - Augsburg, Mainz and Schalke - was pivotal in the final reckoning. The northern Germans hadn't scored in six previous games before the 3-2 win over Augsburg that ultimately kick-started their recovery. Their 2-0 win over Schalke on Matchday 34 got them to the playoff.

Labbadia has some selection headaches for the trip to south-west Germany: both Heiko Westermann and Gojko Kacar are suspended. Ivica Olic was kept in hospital after an allergic reaction last week, but could be available for selection after taking part in training on Sunday.

"We have shown a lot recently that we can come back and that happened again," says HSV defender Dennis Diekmeier. "Every footballer wants to win every game. If we do that in Karlsruhe then we're in the Bundesliga."

Follow all of the action from the Bundesliga relegation playoff second leg on Monday on www.dw.de/sports or on our Twitter feed @dw_sports. The match kick off time has been brought forward to 1700 UTC.

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