One of Germany’s biggest and most traditional clubs, Hamburger SV, have begun the 2020/21 2. Bundesliga campaign with four consecutive victories and are now in first place. The northern German club are the only side in the second tier that has not dropped a single point. Hamburg are now embarking on their third and possibly last season in the 2. Bundesliga after their resounding victory against third-place FC Erzgebirge Aue.
Perfect Start to the Season for Hamburger SV
A Disappointing 2019/20
Hamburger SV’s time in the second tier looked to be coming to an end at the beginning of the 2019/20 Rückrunde. The side sat comfortably in second place under manager Dietmar Hecking when the campaign was suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Upon the restart, however, Hamburg dropped 17 points in the season’s final nine matches, slipping into fourth place behind champions Arminia Bielefeld, Stuttgart and minnows 1. FC Heidenheim. The former Bundesliga dinosaurs had the chance to claim third on the final matchday and face rivals SV Werder Bremen in the relegation/promotion play-off as Heidenheim lost to Arminia. Hecking’s side did not take advantage, however, suffering a shock 5-1 home defeat to SV Sandhausen, a side with nothing to play for.
Hecking Replaced as Manager
Manager Daniel Thioune replaced Dieter Hecking after the disastrous end to the 2019/20 campaign. The former VfL Osnabrück player brought in experienced second-tier striker Simon Terodde from 1. FC Köln, SC Paderborn midfield enforcer Klaus Gjasula, and most notably, Bayern Munich number two Sven Ulreich. These arrivals came while Hamburg were able to retain key players such as captain Aaron Hunt and central defender Rick van Drongelen.
Four Straight Wins to Start the 2020/21 Campaign
Thioune’s squad, spurred on by the signing of big-name players, have won their first four matches of the campaign. These victories were not just against lower to mid-table sides, but against Fortuna Düsseldorf and Paderborn, the two sides relegated from the Bundesliga last season. Simon Terodde scored a brace in both matches.
The next match was a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Greuther Fürth, followed up by their victory over Erzgebirge Aue. Youngster Manuel Wintzheimer opened the scoring in the first half, before Sonny Kittel and Khaled Narey put the match to bed in the second half.
The Clock is Ticking on Hamburger SV
Many of Germany’s largest Traditionsvereine were once stable top-flight sides, but then fell into obscurity after failing to secure a quick promotion back to the Bundesliga. Take Hertha Berlin and 1. FC Kaiserslautern, two of Germany’s oldest clubs. The former has suffered six relegations from the Bundesliga, white the latter has dropped down to the second tier just three times.
The current situation of the two clubs, however, could not be more different. Hertha’s most recent relegations, in 2010 and 2012, saw the West Berlin side immediately regain promotion and win the 2. Bundesliga on both occasions. Kaiserslautern conversely, were relegated in 2006 and did not return to the top-flight until the 2010/11 campaign, before being relegated again in 2012. The club that lifted the Meisterschalle in 1991 and 1998 have not gained promotion to the Bundesliga since.
In a tragedy that will worry every Hamburger SV fan, Kaiserslautern finished third in their first season back in the second tier, subsequently losing the play-off to Hoffenheim. The following campaign, they finished fourth, just like Hamburg have in the previous two seasons. After several flirtations with promotion, the club completely fell off. They then finished tenth and then 13th before being relegated to the third tier in 2018. One of Germany’s biggest clubs were now in complete obscurity.
Hamburg’s fate could be that of Kaiserslautern, as the past two seasons have seen Hamburg finish fourth. The perfect start to this campaign, however, should give hope that Hamburg will not become a mainstay in the 2. Bundesliga, but rather regain its position as a solid top-flight club like Hertha.
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