The clock is ticking for Hamburg | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 21.05.2015
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The clock is ticking for Hamburg

Bundesliga stalwarts Hamburg could be going down on the last day of the season this Saturday. DW's Tobias Ufer examines their chances ahead of the weekend and looks at what's gone wrong at the northern German club.

The maths: When winning isn't enough

On the last day of the season, Hamburg will need to win at home against Schalke if they want to have any chance of avoiding relegation and they'll need other results to go their way too. They'll be hoping that VfB Stuttgart don't beat Paderborn, and that Hannover vs. Freiburg doesn't end in a draw. That is three things that need to happen, for Hamburg to reach their goal of staying in the first division.

"The belief is almost totally gone, but the hope is still there," said HSV club idol Uwe Seeler this week before adding: "But there's not much hope, if I'm totally honest."

No matter what is going on elsewhere, Hamburg would be well advised to keep their focus on their opponents this Saturday. After all, their last success against Schalke was in November 2012. They have a few things in their favor though: the Royal Blues have already qualified for the Europa League. And, Roberto Di Matteo's team is probably more caught up with internal wrangles and an angry fan base.

Bruno Labbadia

Bruno Labbadia on the sidelines

The mood: "Spirit of Malente"

The Hamburg team have boarded themselves up this week in the small northern German town of Malente in an end of season training camp. They are training at the "Uwe Seeler Football Park," hoping to channel some of the success that the location brings with it. This is where Germany's World Cup winning teams trained before they were victorious in 1974 and 1990.

Coach Bruno Labbadia thinks that the move could help his team grow closer. "We put a lot of value on sticking together," said the 49 year old. "That's why we want to have everyone with us."

Captain Rafael van der Vaart is also at the training camp. After an unncessary, late foul against Stuttgart, he managed to earn his 10th yellow card of the season and will now miss the game against Schalke as a result. The Hamburg newspaper "Hamburger Morgenpost" commented that he had "avoided his responsibilities" with his actions. The only way that the Dutchman will play again in Hamburg colors is if his team gets into the relegation play off. More likely he'll go down as one of HSV's tragic heroes this season.

The prognosis: Four coaches and still going down

Mirko Slomka, Joe Zinnbauer, Peter Knäbel and Bruno Labbadia: Hamburg has had four coaches this season and probably spent too long worrying about another one too, Thomas Tuchel.

Hamburg's Bundesliga clock

Will Hamburg's famous Bundesliga clock finally come to a stop?

"I would have liked to have seen Bruno Labbadia arrive earlier," said Uwe Seeler, echoing the thoughts of many Hamburg fans. Since Labbadia took over on April 15, the team has picked up seven points from four games under their new coach. They've gotten more dangerous in attack too, scoring in four games in a row for the first time. But, in the end, six games will not be enough time for Labbadia to turn the fate of his team around, and cancel out the mistakes made by the club over the last few years.

If they do get relegated, Hamburg will have to reduce their spending even more next season and that will be difficult. Most of their player contracts are still valid in the second division, but they will have to drop their wages from 53 million euros ($58.91 million) down to nearly half that. The club's income from TV will be halved to 'just' 12 million euros and the sponsors will also not be willing to pay as much. It's going to be a huge financial challenge, which could endanger the team returning to the Bundesliga straight away.

The famous Hamburg Bundesliga clock, which counts the number of days and minutes that the team has played in Germany's top flight, will also no longer be needed. For nearly 52 years the club has been playing in the Bundesliga. If that ends on Saturday, the clock will finally be stopped.

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