Hinrunde Reviews: Hamburger SV

The 2017/18 Bundesliga season has reached the halfway stage, giving us here at the Bundesliga Fanatic the opportunity to take stock of each club’s progress so far. Here, we look at how Hamburg have fared in the Hinrunde.

The story so far

It is a case of déjà-vu for Hamburg this season as they finished the Hinrunde in familiar territory- at the bottom end of the Bundesliga table. Last season HSV finished the first half of the season in 16th place, the same place they’d finished in 2014-15 and another long and fretful battle against relegation looks on the menu at the Volksparkstadion.

After narrowly escaping a third relegation play-off in a row last season, Hamburg began the current campaign with the worst of starts exiting the DFB Pokal at the first round stage with a 3-1 defeat to VfL Osnabrück. It wasn’t just the loss that caused blushes, it was the fact that the lower league side played all but 18 minutes with ten men and still cruised into a 3-0 lead.

The Bundesliga however started in a more positive fashion with successive opening wins over Augsburg and Köln. That though was the end of any optimism as usual service resumed with seven defeats in their next eight games. The only point picked up was in a drab goalless draw in the Nordderby away at Werder Bremen. A case of same old, same old for the Rothosen faithful.

They did beat Stuttgart 3-1 on matchday 11 with teenage sensation Fiete Arp scoring his second Bundesliga goal on his full debut. Hamburg desperately needed a talent to hang their hope on and in the shape of the 17-year-old, they look to have a real star of the future on their hands.

Another win was racked up against Hoffenheim, but the rest of their fixtures were either defeats (Schalke, Frankfurt, Mönchengladbach) or goalless draws (Freiburg, Wolfsburg).

Two points from their final four games meant that Markus Gisdol’s side will spend the Christmas and New Year in the bottom two with only hapless Köln below them and rivals Werder Bremen above them on goal difference.

For a club of Hamburg’s stature and history, they will spend the Rückrunde with the horribly low ambition of not finishing in the bottom three.

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Stat central

P17 W4 D3 L10 F15 A25 Pt15 (16th)

  • Hamburg have averaged six corners per game in the Hinrunde. Only Bayern Munich can better that number.
  • HSV have the lowest time in possession figure for the entire league with an average ball possession of just 23 minutes 20 seconds per match.
  • They also finish bottom of the league for passes per match with an average of 404. The Bundesliga average in 486 while Bayern lead the way on 702.

Top Performer: Kyriakos Papadopoulos

Mr 110% joined the club in last January’s transfer window and vowed the club would not be relegated. He was true to his word and has been doing his level best this season to get HSV going.

The Greek defender doesn’t know the meaning of ‘half-hearted’ and has been a driving force for the club even if his team mates have been unable at times to deliver on his passion and wholehearted commitment.

That commitment has seen him pick a league high seven yellow cards, but that’s the price you have to pay for his style of play. He’s a leader, a fighter and will give his all right till the end of the season- exactly the sort of player Hamburg need.

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The summer signings

Clubless Sejad Salihovic was signed on a one-year contract, but has been limited to just two starts and two substitute appearances. His only moment of real note was his goal in the 3-2 defeat at Mainz which came via the penalty spot.

Young Dutch defender Rick van Drongelen has settled quickly following his move from Sparta Rotterdam and started the first three games. He was then in and out of the side but he just turned 19 in December and his time will come.

André Hahn started the first ten games before reverting to a subs role. He’s scored twice (against Köln and former side Borussia Mönchengladbach). Sven Schipplock, brought back from a loan to Darmstadt, has been limited to brief, late sub appearances and hasn’t really made much of an impact as a result.

Hinrunde lowlight

There have been plenty of lowlights including the dismal exit from the DFB Pokal to Osnabrück, but the matchday 6 defeat to Bayer Leverkusen burst the bubble of optimism if there was one after their early season wins. The 3-0 defeat at the Bay-Arena was HSV’s fourth in succession and the fourth game they had gone without scoring a goal.

None of the players emerged from the game with any credit except for perhaps goalkeeper Christian Mathenia, who at least helped keep the score down.

Hinrunde highlight

The 3-0 win over Hoffenheim on matchday 13 was a rare occasion when everything clicked for Hamburg and they emerged with a smile on their faces going into Sunday evening.

An early own-goal from Kevin Akpoguma handed them the lead and two goals in the second 45 minutes saw them to a surprisingly comfortable win. Filip Kostic fired in an impressive free-kick with Hoffenheim unprepared, and the icing was put on the cake when defender Gideon Jung popped up to score his first-ever Bundesliga goal seconds after Sven Schipplock had headed against the bar.

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The forecast

I wish we could be more optimistic about Hamburg’s chances in the Rückrunde, but based on recent seasons another 17 matches of struggle are ahead. The one bright spark is the arrival on the scene of young prodigy Fiete Arp and if trainer Markus Gisdol keeps faith with him and he can handle the pressure, then he could just be the saviour for HSV. So not too much hope and expectation on a 17-year-old then?

The big question is: will the Bundesliga clock at the famous Volksparkstadion still be ticking at the end of the season? The fact that there are plenty of teams not too far above them in the table also struggling to move away from the bottom end of the table will be encouraging.

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Mathew Burt

A year spent living in Bremen got Mathew hooked on the Bundesliga with regular visits to the Weser Stadion getting in the way of his studies. Back in the UK now, he still keenly follows the Grün-Weißen and German football in general. Follow him on Twitter @matburt74.

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