Bundesliga Preview: Hamburg in last chance saloon against Wolfsburg | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 26.04.2018
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Bundesliga Preview: Hamburg in last chance saloon against Wolfsburg

The Bundesliga Dinosaurs face a do-or-die clash at Wolfsburg on Saturday. Win and the gap is just two points, lose and they will surely follow Cologne into the second tier.

The only founding members of the Bundesliga never to be relegated may soon have to take down their famous clock. Hamburg are so proud of their record that it has come to define everything about the club, an obsession which has done more harm than good.

The former European champions should be looking towards the top half of the table every season such is the supporter base and potential, but instead they have been locked in a relegation trouble for years.

On Saturday there could be relief either way. If they beat Wolfsburg away, they suddenly have a realistic chance of escaping at least automatic relegation after looking doomed just weeks ago. Lose and they are are almost certainly down.

In some ways relegation might be the best thing for Hamburg, they could clear out the dead wood, rebuild with youth and take down that cursed clock. Then they could look forward, rather than back all the time to 1963.

Fußball Bundesliga Hamburger SV - 1. FSV Mainz 05 (picture-alliance/dpa/Revierfoto)

The Volksparkstadion clock marks HSV's Bundesliga years

They have already started planning for the future by appointing youth coach Christian Titz as first-team boss and he has already drafted in a number of young players. The battle to stay in the Bundesliga is not over yet. The 1-0 win over fellow strugglers Freiburg last weekend has given them momentum, something faltering Wolfsburg do not have.

"It's a six-point game," said Titz, aware that Wolfsburg are just five points above his side. It is not just the Wolves that Hamburg could catch, Mainz and Freiburg are level on points with Wolfsburg with three games left this term. Freiburg are in the relegation play-off spot having lost five in a row.

"We are playing with a different self-belief," midfielder Aaron Hunt said.

"We all believe in the path taken by the coach. We wanted this match in Wolfsburg with the table looking like it does."

In truth the win over Freiburg was a nervous affair. Hamburg should have been home and hosed with several chances in the last few minutes to seal the victory. But such is Hamburg's flirtation with danger, they failed to convert and almost paid for it in stoppage time when Freiburg keeper Alexander Schwolow, up for a corner, blasted over.

The Wolfsburg game could well follow a similar pattern, with former Hamburg coach Bruno Labbadia in the other dug-out,  adding to the intrigue.

Elsewhere on Matchday 32

- Bottom side Cologne are in a worse situation than Hamburg and need to win all their remaining three matches and hope other results go their way. The near impossible starts with a trip on Satuday to Freiburg, at least a team they can theoretically catch.

- Bayern Munich will probably rest several top names again when they host Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday with an eye on Tuesday's Champions League semifinal secong leg at Real Madrid. The Bundesliga game, a precursor of the German Cup final, is of course interesting as it is the first time Niko Kovac has faced Bayern since the news he will join the Bavarians in July.

- The battle for the fourth Champions League spot goes into overdrive, with Hoffenheim hoping to win at home to Hanover on Friday in order to leapfrog Bayer Leverkusen and pile on the pressure before the Werkself host VfB Stuttgart on Sunday.

Matchday 32 fixtures

Hoffenheim v Hanover  (Friday, 8.30pm CET)

Bayern Munich v Eintracht Frankfurt (Saturday, 3.30pm)

Freiburg v Cologne

Hertha Berlin v Augsburg

Schalke v Borussia Moenchengladbach

Wolfsburg v Hamburg

Bayer Leverkusen v VfB Stuttgart, (Saturday, 6.30pm)

Mainz v RB Leipzig (Sunday, 3.30pm)

Werder Bremen v Borussia Dortmund (Sunday, 6.00pm)

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