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Bundesliga Review – Week 19

Tick Tock. Tick Tock. Goes the Hamburg clock. It’s really no secret that the clear majority of all German football fans would enjoy watching Hamburger SV get relegated. The Dinosaurs of German football have survived an apocalypse and are now in a world they shouldn’t be: surrounded by strange ape-like figures who can speak, walk upright and consider themselves alive. HSV shouldn’t even be alive but still are, which forces all German football fans to live in a quasi-eternal Jurassic Park-like scenario.

While there are still a few good things regarding HSV, mainly things surrounding tradition and the ways of the old, the dinosaurs are long gone and perhaps HSV should be too. This weekend’s game against 1. FC Köln showed us just that. There were typical glimpses of what could have been, but in the end a disappointing performance at home against the Billy Goats in a game they really should have won. But the clock keeps on ticking and will keep on ticking until the end of this season at the earliest.

The game began rather convincingly. Hamburger SV started off very well and should perhaps have been in the lead heading into the second half, but due to bad finishing and some stellar heroics from Timo Horn, the game was still tied at the break. While Köln had a non-pressing tactic, very unusual to see in Germany by the way, Hamburg tried to press Köln, they tried to play the ball and they did manage to carve out a few good chances, but sadly in vain. HSV went into the break without a goal to ease the home fans and Köln still had a good chance of winning this crucial game.

It looked like Stefan Ruthenbeck, Köln’s newly appointed coach, had given them some rough words in his half-time team talk. Köln returned to the pitch full of rage and seemed very eager to get started again. They started playing again, started to look like they did last season and started to create chances, albeit they weren’t too hard to come by due to the defence HSV lined up with. In the end, Köln scored and they did it twice. Both times through Simon Terodde, Anthony Modeste’s proper heir to the throne at Geißbockheim. The German striker has had a laughable first Bundesliga season, but since returning to Köln, he’s shown what he can do and why he managed to score over 50 goals in two seasons at VfL Bochum and VfB Stuttgart. Ruthenbeck’s game plan seemed to be defensive. Köln came to draw, but wheeled away with an important win.

That is what epitomises Hamburger Sport Verein. Somehow managing to change their opponent’s minds during the game due to their own horrible performance, either in attack or in defence. Against Köln, it was Hamburg’s defence that looked shattered and Köln created dangerous chances every time they tried. To be able to change the attitudes of their opponents to the worse is an ability I did not know Markus Gisdol and his side possessed, but seemingly that’s another thing they can add to their trophy cabinet of horror.

I have a good friend who happens to have the patience of supporting the walking madness and mayhem that is Hamburger Sport Verein. He always states that “this is the year the clock stops ticking.” Funnily, he has said it for the last four years and he’s never been right. However, this shows the hopeless nature of many fans of die Rothosen, the Brachiosaur from Jura. There’s no hope, no will, no belief in the future. They’re hoping for HSV to finally get relegated so they can start rebuilding again. They want to reboot, start afresh with a new director and a new manager with some new players and with an increased youth influx. Interestingly, it does make sense.

The clock has become a symbol of what has been. If the clock would stop, it would be a sign of something that hasn’t happened before and something that has not been. The clock that stopped would be a template for years to come, a model for teams in the dirt, something that shows the way for fallen clubs to go: Rebuild, reform and renew.

Tick Tock, Tick Tock, goes the Hamburger SV clock. It’s too early to say if the clock on the Nordkurve will keep ticking come June and it’s too early to say if it would even be a good thing, but one thing is certain. This season, like most seasons since 2010, HSV are in for a hell of a ride and nobody knows where it will end.

 

1 | Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s move to Arsenal seems to be picking up pace. The Gabon international was left in Dortmund as they travelled to the capital to face Hertha BSC. Arsenal CEO Ivan Gazidis and chief scout Sven Mislintat have been pictured in Dortmund while it’s been reported that Aubameyang has agreed personal terms with the Premier League club. All that remains is an agreement over the transfer fee, which seems to be the only stumbling block. Arsenal have offered €50 million which is too far away from BVB’s €70m asking price, but there’s no doubting that the transfer of the 28-year-old to the Gunners will add much needed fire power. But it’s also how Borussia Dortmund use that money to find a replacement. Their 1-1 draw on Friday night only strengthened Dortmund’s need for a striker. Many have suggested Olivier Giroud may move the opposite way but it’s nothing more than a stop gap until they find a younger replacement. BVB are keen on Chelsea’s Michy Batshuayi and Sampdoria’s Duvan Zapata.

2 | Just like last week, Simon Terodde made the headlines in Köln. The January arrival from VfB Stuttgart followed up his stoppage time winner against rivals Borussia Mönchengladbach with a brace against Hamburger SV on Saturday evening. The Billy Goats have transformed under Stefan Ruthenbeck now finding themselves on a three-game winning streak, putting them just three points behind HSV. A 12th Bundesliga defeat of the season for Hamburg resulted in Markus Gisdol being relieved of his duties while former Würzburger Kickers head coach Bernd Hollerbach will take charge. The relegation battle is every bit as interesting as the race for Europe. Both in-form Köln and 1. FSV Mainz 05 are grinding out wins while Hamburg, VfL Wolfsburg and Stuttgart are all struggling. Just eight points separate bottom and 13th.

3 | With just one win is six Bundesliga games, RB Leipzig have fallen behind Schalke and Bayer Leverkusen in the race for that runners-up spot. Ralph Hasenhüttl’s side found themselves a goal up against Freiburg on Saturday but poor defending cost RasenBallsport Leipzig three points. Just four points separate Bayer Leverkusen in second and Hannover 96th in tenth with the battle for a place in Europe all to play for. A huge part of Leverkusen’s success is down to Leon Bailey. The 20-year-old scored a backheel from 12-yards against TSG 1899 Hoffenheim while many are already tipping the Jamiacan for success. It’s clear to see why having scored seven goals and creating five in 16 games.

4 | Leon Goretzka underwent his Bayern Munich medical midweek after agreeing to join the Bundesliga champions in the summer. Keeping the Germany international within the league can only be a positive while his switch to Bavaria certainly makes sense, as opposed to joining a Premier League club. As put by Deutsche Welle’s Jonathan Harding, Goretzka is remaining within a culture that he’s accustomed to while surrounding himself with better players as well as increasing his wage. It’s safe to say Schalke fans weren’t pleased with Goretzka’s decision. Calls of ‘Judas’ during training sessions were followed by a banner prior to their game against Hannover on Sunday evening: “Neither money nor titles are more valuable than our club. Whoever doesn’t appreciate that can f— off. Abandoned 1000 friends for emotionless titles and superficial spivs,” while every touch of his was jeered. Public enemy No. 1 in Gelsenkirchen, Goretzka will be a hit in Bavaria.

Results: Hertha BSC 1-1 Borussia Dortmund, Borussia Mönchengladbach 2-0 Augsburg, Freiburg 2-1 RB Leipzig, TSG 1899 Hoffenheim 1-4 Bayer Leverkusen, 1. FSV Mainz 05 3-2 VfB Stuttgart, VfL Wolfsburg 1-3 Eintracht Frankfurt, Hamburger SV 0-2 1. FC Köln, Bayern Munich 4-2 Werder Bremen, Schalke 04 1-1 Hannover 96.

Axel Falk with Daniel Pinder.

 

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