As Deutsche-Welle describes it, “more than half a century of history, civic pride and identity” is at stake for Hamburg SV when the Bundesliga giant travels to Mainz on Saturday to play its final game of the German season. Hamburg is locked in a three-way battle for survival with Nurnberg and Eintracht Braunschweig at the bottom of the Bundesliga standings, where the trio is separated by just two points. But Hamburg has never been relegated before. In fact, it is the only club that has stayed at the top tier since the Bundesliga was founded in 1963.
But even a win wouldn’t secure survival for Mirko Slomka’s men, as 16th-place in Germany is only good enough for a two-game relegation playoff with the third-place team from Bundesliga 2, which is likely to be SpVgg Greuther Furth. However, a loss coupled with a win for either Nurnberg or Braunschweig would consign Hamburg to relegation.
"We have to reproduce our first-half performance against Bayern for the full 90 minutes in Mainz," Slomka said, referring to last week’s 4-1 loss at home to the German champ. "They are tactically variable and are a force at home and want to play in Europe next season. But we are going there to win and not look at what others might be doing."
Slomka was handed a pre-game boost following the news that top striker Pierre-Michel Lasogga is available for selection after spending much of the second part of the season recovering from a thigh problem.