More then just bragging rights: Hamburg v. Werder Bremen

In 1982 a clash between Hamburg and Werder fans escalated before the match in the Volkspark Stadion, resulting in the death of Bremen fan Adrian Maleika. A victory in the “Nord derby” is far more important then the bragging rights that follow with that victory.

The history
Werder had historically always played the second fiddle in northern-Germany before the Bundesliga was founded. After 1963 the balance of power shifted between the two teams. Suddenly Werder was the better of the two teams. In the late 70’s and early 80’s Hamburg regained the upper hand.

The fans of the two clubs love to hate each other. There have been numerous violent episodes between them, but the atmosphere around the match calmed down a lot after the 1982 tragedy.

The “Nord derby” is amongst the most watched matches in Germany. It is never easy to predict the outcome of the matches, and the high number of goals scored in these matches have helped to make this match an absolute classic.

The stats
While both teams have at times dominated the other, the stats tell the story of two sides that are evenly matched. Werder have won 31 matches against Hamburg, while Hamburg have won 29 matches. The two teams weren’t able to find a winner on 33 occasions. The goal difference between the two sides is 140:137 in favor of the HSV.

This years match
Hamburg have struggled to get into the top five this season, while Werder have had an absolute horror season. The HSV are the favorites to win the match in the 23rd round of Bundesliga action. But, with this one, you never know who is going to win.  Armin Veh’s Hamburg club are coming off a disappointing 1-0 loss to city rivals St. Pauli Wednesday, while Werder Bremen have drawn their last two matches, 1-1, against FSV Mainz 05 and Hannover 96, as Thomas Schaaf struggles to get his club on the path to victory.

Although Hamburg and Werder Bremen fans would classify their club’s 2010-2011 seasons as disappointing, Hamburg are at least in sight of a European spot, currently in 7th place in the Bundesliga table, while Werder Bremen have 10 points less than their north German rivals and hover too close to comfort near the relegation zone.    Werder Bremen were also lackluster in Champions League play last fall, but a victory Saturday in Hamburg would temporarily give their fans reason to smile.

The last part of this mini-series will appear before the match between Borussia Mönchengladbach and 1. FC Köln. So stay tuned.

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Niklas Wildhagen

Niklas is a 32-year-old football writer and podcaster who has been following the Bundesliga and German football since the early 90s. You can follow him on Twitter, @normusings, and listen to his opinions on @TalkingFussball.

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