2018-19 Season Preview: Hamburger SV

Will the northern giants rise again?

The Basics
Name: Hamburger SV (Hamburger Sport-Verien e.V)

Nickname: Die Rothosen (The Red Shorts)

Founded: September 29 1887 (131 Years Old)

Team Colours: White, Red and Blue

Rivals: Werder Bremen (Nordderby) and FC St. Pauli (Hamburg Derby)

Fan Friendship: Rangers (Scotland) and Arminia Bielefeld

Volksparkstadion
Capacity: 57,000

Attendance: 861,173 (50,657 per match – 88.8% Capacity)
6th Best in Bundesliga last season

Trophies
German Champions: (6) 1922/23, 1927/28, 1959/60, 1978/79, 1981/82, 1982/83

DFB Pokal: (3) 1962/63, 1975/76, 1986/87

German League Cups: (2) 1972/73, 2003/04

UEFA Champions League: (1) 1982/83

Cup Winners Cup: (1) 1976/77

2017-18 Finishes
Bundesliga: 17th Place (Relegated)

DFB Pokal: 1st Round (Defeated by VfL Osnabrück 3:1)

2017/18 Top Scorers (All Competitions)
⦁ Lewis Holtby (6)
⦁ Filip Kostić (5)
⦁ Aaron Hunt (3)
⦁ André Hahn (3)
⦁ Bobby Wood (3)

Pre-Season Results
Record: 5-0-1
Goals Scored: 33
Goals Conceded: 1
⦁ Hamburger SV 18-0 Büdelsdorfer TSV
⦁ Hamburger SV 10-0 TuS Dassendorf
⦁ Hamburger SV 1-5 Aarhus GF
⦁ Hamburger SV 1-0 CSKA Moscow
⦁ Hamburger SV 2-1 Rapid Vienna
⦁ Hamburger SV 2-1 Stoke City

Questions with a fan:

In what will be a very odd sight, this season will be the first during which Hamburger SV compete in 2.Bundesliga — they are the last founding member of the Bundesliga to go down. To help me make sense of the disaster of last season as well as provide some optimism for the up coming campaign is Hamburg fan Daniel Lowe. You can find Daniel on twitter @HSV News English  where you’ll receive a daily intake of HSV news, views and banter.

MK: It must be an odd feeling not being in the Bundesliga, who do you think is to blame for the clubs first relegation?

DL: It’s definitely strange and when I think forward to the season ahead sometimes I still think “Wow..we were actually relegated.”. I think it will hit home after the season kicks off.

I don’t think you can blame one person for the relegation, although Bruchhagen & Todt certainly did their best to get us relegated with the team put together last season. Not replacing Müller when he was injured in the first game was a big blow. It was really a succession of poor sport director/coaching appointments that did it. The squad was always unsettled and filled with players put together by 2-3 different sport directors and coaches. One coach would leave and his replacement would want three players signed, then when he was sacked his replacement would want another three, but he only wanted 1 of the players brought in for the old coach. It was a mess. There was no vision or plan for the future. Just short-term survival.

MK: Since he has come in as manager, what have been your overall impressions of Christian Titz?

DL: Very positive so far. The players all like him as he understands modern football. He’s teaching them a style of football they enjoy learning and playing. I think it says a lot about his coaching ability that aside from his work for HSV he has his own successful football school called ‘Coaching Zone’ which has worked with many professionals to improve different areas of their game, including our own Lewis Holtby and Christoph Moritz. Players go to him because they like his football philosophy and know he can help them become better players. He’s also co-wrote a few books on coaching & tactics. The style of football he is trying to implement is something we’ve never seen before as fans and I desperately want him to be a success. I’ve got full faith in his ability.

MK: Who is a player fans should keep an eye on this season?

Tatsuya Ito

DL: Without a doubt that would have to be Tatsuya Ito. He’s a little magician. He has wonderful technique, dribbling ability and defending him is a tough task for any full-back in Germany. Hopefully he has worked with the coaches over the summer to improve his final ball into the box as that is the weakest area of his game. If he has, he should have many assists this season.

MK: Which player were you happy to see leave Hamburger SV?

DL: Bobby Wood. Earns far too much money. Not a good player and a bit of a mercenary.

MK: Which fixture are you looking forward to this season?

DL: Most are looking forward to the derby games against Pauli and while they will be fun, I’m most looking forward to our games away at teams we’ve never played before. Games against teams like Magdeburg & Union are the ones I’m anticipating. It will be a new experience.

MK: Where do you believe Hamburger SV will finish this season?

DL: Given our large budget we should challenge for the league along with Köln, but one of the advantages most of the other sides have is their familiarity with the league and the teams in it. It’s new territory for HSV. We have the youngest squad in the league which is both great for the future but also a little concerning should we hit a rough patch. We’ll need the experienced leaders like Moritz, Hunt & Holtby to step up and show the young guys the way. Overall I think we’ll return to the Bundesliga after a season away and it would be nice for us to do it with some silverware. I’ve been a fan since 2004 and up until this point our biggest achievement which brought in silverware was winning the Suwon Peace Cup in 2012! There are thousands like me that have never seen us win anything of note, so hopefully we bring the 2.BL title back to Hamburg next May!

When We Last Saw Them

The less said about Hamburg last season, the better. In what was a historical season for all the wrong reasons as HSV lost it’s top flight status for the first time and became the last founding member to go down. However, Hamburg’s relegation has been long in the making with the northern club avoiding the drop twice in the last five years via the relegation play-offs. Beating Karlsruher SC and Greuther Fürth.

Finding goals from their strikers had been a real issue and last season was no issue with Hamburg scoring only 29 goals, less than a goal a game. Bobby Wood was the best of the strikers with three goals but overall his influence had been extremely poor. The only positive going forward was finally seeing Jann Fiete-Arp play in the first team and it seemed evident that playing him would be extremely beneficial to the club.

Continuity has been something that has been lacking and the formula of changing coaches like changing outfits until the right one works finally ended. Markus Gisdol, who had saved Hamburg the previous season was given the axe midway through the season, with Bernd Hollerbach taking over. The Hollerbach era lasted even less with Hamburg eventually turning to current manager Christian Titz. When Titz took over on matchday 27, Hamburg were all but relegated and the rebuild was underway. If there was one thing to take way from last season, it would be that under Titz Hamburg won half of their matches which includes a 3-2 win over second placed Schalke. As Hamburg head into the current season, can Titz lead Hamburg back to the promise land or are HSV destined for life in 2.Bundesliga.

Aspiration

Champions: On paper, Hamburg and Köln are the favourites to gain instant promotion with the later favoured to take the title. To many, Köln have a superior squad and the hit coach in Markus Anfang whilst the experienced Armin Veh oversees the footballing operations of the club. However, Hamburg have been able to keep some of their core players in Lewis Holtby and Aaron Hunt whilst promoting a youthful movement, exemokufued by Ito along with Rick van Drongelen,who proved to be an exciting signing. It’s players  like these, alongside the existing core which can propel Hamburg to the title this season.

Reality

Promotion: The reality is that Hamburg could win 2.Bundesliga and it’s not inconceivable that we see HSV win the league. However, there are a few questions lingering heading into the season that will be announced during the season.

Can Fiete-Arp lead the line on a consistent basis?

Will the new signings integrate into the squad?

Can Hamburg find a back four that can maintain a mental focus for 90 minutes?

The last two have been questions that have been answered incorrectly from a Hamburg perspective for the past couple of seasons. But with the reset button hit, its possible that Hamburg can showcase the success that has been a non-factor for such a long time.

The Boss

Christian Titz almost saved HSV last season

Is it Ricky Gervais?

Well for doppelgangers, yes Christian Titz is as close as it gets to the British comedian. But what Titz lacks in comedy, he makes up for in footballing intelligence. Titz is a genius of football from the basics, to complicated tactical shifts.  It’s astounding how much the 47-year old has accomplished. But the upcoming campaign will constitute Titz’s first real major challenge.

Prior to becoming Hamburg manager early this year, Titz had been with only FC Homburg and Viktoria Köln. In between these stints, Titz worked at the Dooley Soccer University where he contributed in multiple football novels. His reputation does proceed Titz — a football obsessive workaholic and a ‘devil is very much in details’ regarding his club’s efforts with and without the ball.

Titz’s best quality as a manager is the development of young talent and in many regards he will continue the charge of Hamburg’s revolution.  Arp and Ito,  who he not only developed but turned into certain starters for HSV. Arp has had plenty of interest over the past few seasons from the likes of Chelsea and Bayern Munich both being rejected whilst Ito is a pocket rocket who was disregarded by Titz’s predecessors. We will now see the best of Hamburg’s young talent on display.

Philosophy

Something that hasn’t been said by Hamburg fans for some time is: “We are playing football” but under Christian Titz it is a guarantee that we will hear that on a regular basis. As we saw when he took over, Titz likes to favour a 4-1-4-1 formation with a number six controlling the midfield. We saw Matti Steinmann take control  with a resurgent Lewis Holtby playing as a number eight in a free role, where he drops deep into midfield alongside Steinmann whilst also joining the rush along the number 10 and the wide players.

Titz likes to have all his players with the ability to play on the ball, which is possession based, yet showcases flexibility and individuality. This includes goalkeeper Julian Pollersbeck who will play an NFL- style quarterback role with a mix of Manuel Neuer. He will play the sweeper keeper role as he aids Hamburg pressing forward with a high line. However, Pollersbeck can be caught out of position with this system so it will be imperative that he  does not get stuck in no mans land. His role is quite important.

This is a brief look at Titzball but I would recommend (T)itz a kind of magic by Abel Meszaros for a real in depth look at how Hamburg are set-up under Christian Titz.

Transfers (All Figures in Euros)
Out:
⦁ Walace to Hannover 96 (6 Million)
⦁ Luca Waldschmidt to SC Freiburg (5 Million)
⦁ André Hahn to FC Augsburg (3 Million)
⦁ Bobby Wood to Hannover 96 (Loan with fee of 1.2 Million)
⦁ Christian Mathenia to 1.FC Nürnberg (500,000)
⦁ Nicolai Müller to Eintracht Frankfurt (Free Transfer)
⦁ Sven Schipplock to Arminia Bielefeld (Free Transfer)
⦁ Alen Halilovic to AC Milan (Free Transfer)
⦁ Andreas Hirzel to FC Vaduz (Free Transfer)
⦁ Sejad Salihovic (Released)
⦁ Bjarne Thoelke to Admira Wacker (Free Transfer)
⦁ Dennis Diekmeier (Released)
⦁ Mergim Mavraj (Released)
⦁ Mats Köhlert to Hamburger SV II (Free Transfer)

In:
⦁ Khaled Narey from Greuther Fürth (1.7 Million)
⦁ Manuel Wintzheimer from Bayern Munich U19 (Free Transfer)
⦁ Christoph Moritz from Kaiserslautern (Free Transfer)
⦁ Jairo Samperio from Las Palmas (Free Transfer)
⦁ David Bates from Rangers (Free Transfer)
⦁ Pierre-Michel Lasogga from Leeds United (Loan Return)
⦁ Arianti Ferati from Hamburger SV II (Free Transfer)
⦁ Morten Behrens from Hamburger SV II (Free Transfer)
⦁ Matti Steinmann from Hamburger SV II (Free Transfer)
⦁ Stephan Ambrosius from Hamburger SV II (Free Transfer)
⦁ Moritz-Broni Kwarteng from Hamburger SV II (Free Transfer)
⦁ Josha Vagnoman from Hamburger SV U19 (Free Transfer)
⦁ Marco Drawz from Hamburger SV U19 (Free Transfer)
⦁ Tobias Knost from Hamburger SV U19 (Free Transfer)
⦁ Aaron Opoku from Hamburger SV U19 (Free Transfer)
⦁ Batuhan Altintas from Giresunspor (Loan Return)

Strengths

After the season Hamburg just experienced, it is very difficult to find the strengths of a side that was extremely poor. But when I look at the Hamburg side this season, they seem to have the right mix of youth and experience that could help them gain instant promotion back to the top flight. This transfer window we have seen Hamburg retain the likes of Holtby and Aaron Hunt, who is set to become the club captain, whilst keeping the clubs jewel in Jann Fiete-Arp, who has snubbed Bayern Munich to remain in the north until 2020. Arp is the most intriguing prospect; with an obvious pay increase we still haven’t seen what the 18-year-old can produce.

It shall be exciting.

Hamburg’s overall shift transfer wise has been much better by signing in the likes of David Bates and Manuel Wintzheimer who are both extremely talented, whilst bringing in Bundesliga experience in Jairo Samperio and Christoph Moritz. Amongst all the changes, Hamburg are heading in the right direction even if it took relegation to turn the culture around.

Weaknesses

Finding the back of the net has been a major issue for Hamburg in recent years and heading into the 2018/19 season, this is one area that must be rectified if HSV is to return to the Bundesliga. In the past five seasons, Hamburg have only scored more than 40 goals on one occasion, which came in the 2013/14 season where they managed 51 goals and only avoided relegation via the play-offs.

Last season, we saw Hamburg’s goal scoring core led by Holtby, who only managed six and he plays in midfield. It has been a real issue- with the departed Bobby Wood the leading goal getter amongst forwards only scoring three. That’s simply not good enough and now in the 2.Bundesliga, can the likes of Arp and Pierre-Michel Lasogga find the back of the net with regularity?

Critical Stretch

Perhaps Hamburg fans will tell you that the entire season is a critical stretch for HSV who don’t want to overstay their welcome in 2.Bundesliga. However, I see the stretch between Matchday 8 to matchday 12 being quite tricky for die Rothosen who at that stage in the season will be looking to establish themselves as the leaders in the league. This stretch opens with the Hamburg derby against St. Pauli in what should be a cracking encounter.  St. Pauli are coming off a very poor season but they will certainly have the bit between their teeth. Hamburg then travel to Darmstadt, who like St Pauli, had a very ordinary season. Darmstadt will be looking to get promoted this season and they could pose a threat.

Bochum on Matchday 10 is really interesting, the attacking three of Sidney Sam, Lukas Hinterseer and Robbie Kruse proved to be really dangerous towards the end of last season as VfL rose from certain relegation to finishing sixth at the end of the season. Under Robin Dutt, Bochum underwent a revolution and perhaps could be a promotion contender. New boys Magdeburg have invested heavily in their first season in 2.Bundesliga, and despite their lack of big name talent, they mustn’t be underestimated. The stretch ends at home against relegated Köln. Like Hamburg, Köln will be pushing for an immediate bounce back to the first division — this will be a must watch fixture.

This stretch looks to be pivotal for Hamburg who won’t want to mess around against a strong group of sides.

Verdict

2nd Place
You would think with the financial and squad quality Hamburg have, finishing in the promotional places shouldn’t be an issue. Yet football isn’t played on paper and as we saw last season, the 2.Bundesliga is extremely unpredictable with the likes of Kaiserslautern and Eintracht Braunschweig succumbing to relegation, whilst Ingolstadt and Darmstadt finished in midtable. Having said that, I like what Hamburg are doing under Christian Titz and it wouldn’t be unthinkable for HSV to make an immediate return to the top flight of German football.

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Matthew is currently partaking in a Bachelor of Management (Marketing) at the University of South Australia and has been a RealSport’s writer since December of 2016 He predominately devotes his fandom to German football where he’s a passionate Schalke 04 supporter, and competes as a goalkeeper for the Rostrevor Old Collegians Soccer Club in Adelaide’s Collegiate Soccer League. Follow @MatthewKaragich

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