When the mighty Hamburger SV were relegated from the Bundesliga for the first time back in 2018, while a shock, it was felt that a club of their magnitude would instantly bounce back at the first attempt. However, now in their third season in the second tier, they still look to be struggling to make the return to the big time.
Two agonising fourth place finishes have seen them denied a place at the top table. Indeed, last season saw them denied a play-off place on the very last game of the season in stoppage time by FC Heidenheim.
Third time lucky then? It was looking good for die Rothosen under new coach Daniel Thioune, but now with 12 games left in the 2020/21 season, history looks to be repeating itself and the danger is that a fourth season in the 2. Bundesliga could be on the cards.
Winning their opening five matches saw the optimism rise at the start of the season at the Volksparkstadion, but two draws and then successive defeats to Bochum, Heidenheim and Hannover tempered the good feeling. Going into the shortened Winterpause HSV were however second behind Holstein Kiel.
They have been there, or thereabouts throughout the new year, look to have hit a mini slump at just the wrong time in the season. Since beating Eintracht Braunschweig 4-2 in January, they haven’t won a game since losing to Paderborn, Würzburger Kicker and city rivals St. Pauli while drawing their other four matches.
The latest dropped points came on Monday as they were held to a 1-1 draw by second-placed Kiel, who have maintained their three-point advantage. Another tough game is up next with a trip to leaders VfL Bochum on Friday. HSV need to rediscover their form quickly if they are not to fall away at the vital stage of the season.
“I’m not going to make a big deal as far as third place is concerned,” Thioune said after the 1-1 draw against northern rivals Kiel. “In terms of our quality, we are in a position to climb again. The results will come.”
Sporting director Michael Mutzel is also confident that his team can push on rather than fall away. “The manner and way we have played we see a positive” he told the club’s website. “I am convinced the ball will go in more often if we carry on as we are.
“We know that we are a good team and it’s down to us. In the end, we decide how the games paly out. Bochum have recently pulled ahead, because the results been good- even though I wouldn’t say they are clearly better than all the other teams. However, Bochum have a really good team, are well organised and have some really good individual players.”
Now is nor the time for HSV to continue their winless run. Falling away at this stage of the season could be the catalyst for a fourth unwanted stay in the second tier.