In case you were not aware, the 2. Bundesliga should be your favourite league in the world. Unless you are of a HSV persuasion. Die Rothosen are enduring their third season in the second tier of German football and it has been far from enjoyable.
The infamous ‘In Der Bundesliga Seit’ clock at the Volksparkstadion ran its course in 2017 as they stumbled out of the Bundesliga for the first time after a 55 year stay in Germany’s top flight in what was a dark day for the club. A team that had flirted with relegation for years, it didn’t seem a club of this stature and size could go down. Three years later, we are still waiting on their return.
The 2. Bundesliga currently occupies four clubs in joint first place position with 42 Points. Hamburger SV, SpVgg Greuther Fürth, VfL Bochum and Holstein Kiel. For the neutral, this is equally chaotic and exciting. For HSV, flashbacks and nightmares from their previous two attempts to escape the second tier must be recurring. Where has it gone wrong?
Their 2018/19 season was going well on course for a quick return. Battling with 1.FC Köln and an impressive SC Paderborn 07. A semi-final run in the DFB Pokal became a welcomed distraction as the month of March strolled along and HSV began to capitulate. One win from their final nine games of the season saw the 2010 UEFA Cup semi-finalists slip out of the promotion places and the playoff to a fourth-place finish behind Paderborn and Union Berlin. HSV suffered defeats to both sides in the final stretch. One point was the difference between another year in the second division and the return to the top. One point.
In 2019/20, it happened again. This time a stronger start. HSV only lost three of their opening 22 games but once again the month of March came knocking. Granted they were always on the tails of high-flying Arminia Bielefeld, their strong start should have almost certainly guaranteed them their return. Despite any Covid-19 interruptions to the league, HSV’s end of season run was almost identical. Two wins in their last nine fixtures in the post Covid-19 part of the season, but it was their final two games that blew it, again. A 2-1 defeat to eventual playoff holders 1. FC Heidenheim was the catalyst for the eventual failure, but all they needed was a win against bottom-half of the table SV Sandhausen at home on the final day. It was a 5-1 demolition. It was not only embarrassing, but it ended their fight and once again a fourth-place finish beckoned in the north.
Now we arrive at the current 2. Bundesliga season. We are all beginning to wonder if HSV have fooled us again. Despite a blip of three defeats in a row, Die Rothosen were sitting comfortably top of the table. One win in the last five, including a 3-2 defeat to minnows Würzburger Kickers, and they have now allowed Greuther Fürth, Bochum and Holstein Kiel to create a four way race for the title. As we are once again approaching March, HSV must end this rut they occur at the end of every season, it is almost becoming physiological. Daniel Thioune has his work cut out for him but with 19 goal Simon Terodde leading the line, this surely is their best chance to finally achieve success.
A short trip to in-form city rivals St Pauli up on Monday, followed swiftly by ties against now title rivals Holstein Kiel and Bochum, Thioune and Hamburg’s season could well and truly be won or lost in their next three games.
The clock stopped ticking three years ago, it’s difficult to say when it will restart.
By Roy Campbell.