Hamburg desperately need the points away to surprise package Augsburg on Sunday
Hamburg desperately need the points away to surprise package Augsburg on Sunday

Umpteenth cup final for Hamburg in Augsburg

Ausgburg - Must-win doesn't even come close to describing the importance of Hamburger SV's trip to FC Augsburg on Sunday afternoon (kick-off 13:30 GMT/ 15:30 CET).


Although victory won't be enough to lift Mirko Slomka's relegation play-off lodgers out of the bottom three, it would at least keep them within touching distance of outright Bundesliga safety ahead of the final two rounds of 2013/14 action.

"The team must be able to deal with the pressure," Slomka explained, with one eye on the five-point deficit currently separating his port city strugglers and 15th-place VfB Stuttgart. "We need to fight, be on top of our game and play with passion. Everyone knows what is needed. We will leave no stone unturned [...] It's a six-pointer."

Slomka's conclusive remark has become the norm at the Bundesliga's only ever-present club, who have just eight points to show for their last nine so-called cup finals. Indeed, only once this calendar year have Hamburg spent the week outside the relegation zone (post-Matchday 25).

'Survival of our club'

"I expect every player to give his all for the good of this club," affirmed Hamburg sporting director Oliver Kreuzer. 'It's not just about winning; it is about the very survival of our club. The team must play to their very limit and give more than 100 per cent in order to be successful in the last three matches."

This time last season, Sunday's hosts Augsburg were in a similarly perilous position, albeit with far less ground to make up on the Bundesliga safe house. Despite losing to SC Freiburg and FC Bayern München, the Bavarian minnows kept their heads above water courtesy of a d-day win over SpVgg Greuther Fürth.

'We want to win'

"We know ourselves how tough it is to be in the midst of a relegation battle," recalled Augsburg head coach Markus Weinzierl. "HSV have already said it's about survival for them. We have to set our stall out accordingly. We want to win at home and consolidate eighth place. After that, we'll see what the gap is on seventh."

UEFA Europa League qualification would put the gloss on a fairytale campaign for an Augsburg outfit far more accustomed to fighting for their Bundesliga lives rather than a place amongst European football's elite. Depending on how seventh-placed 1. FSV Mainz 05 get on against 1. FC Nürnberg, a win over HSV could take Weinzierl and Co. to within one point of the promised land.

Possible line-ups:

Augsburg: Hitz - Verhaegh, Callsen-Bracker, Klavan, Ostrzolek - Baier - Esswein, Vogt, Halil Altintop, To. Werner - Mölders

Hamburg: Adler - Diekmeier, Westermann, Mancienne, Jansen - Ilicevic, Badelj, Arslan, Jiracek - Calhanoglu - Zoua

Christopher Mayer-Lodge

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See how Hamburg's plight took a turn for the worse against Wolfsburg last weekend on the official Bundesliga YouTube channel: