Hamburg seek divine intervention in relegation battle
Hamburg playmaker Hakan Calhanoglu has said only divine intervention can help his side avoid an historic relegation from the Bundesliga after 50 years in Germany's top-flight.
Hamburg suffered a club record eighth home defeat when they lost 3-1 against VfL Wolfsburg on Saturday to leave them 16th and they have just three games left to avoid their first relegation from the Bundesliga.
Hamburg are the only team in Germany's top-flight to have never gone down and a clock at their Imtech Arena stadium proudly displays how long they have spent in the Bundesliga -- but the 1983 European Cup winners are running out of time.
"I will pray to god that we stay in the league. Only god can help us now," insisted 20-year-old Turkey international Calhanoglu.
Hamburg face a tough last three games at Augsburg on Saturday, then home to champions Bayern Munich and away to Mainz, who are all in the top half of the table.
Should Hamburg remain 16th after the final round of matches on May 10, they will face a two-legged play-off next month against the side who finish third in the second division, currently Paderborn, for their Bundesliga place.
Mirko Slomka, Hamburg's third coach this season after Thorsten Fink and Bert van Marwijk were both sacked, sent a scout to watch possible future play-off opponents Paderborn's 2-2 draw with Greuther Fuerth on Sunday.
"We have to prepare ourselves professionally", Slomka said glumly.
Hamburg's fans showed their disgruntlement as 120 masked supporters rioted after the final whistle and only police intervention prevented more trouble.
Wolfsburg's Ivica Olic, the ex-Hamburg striker who scored in Wolves' victory, admitted he was not optimistic about his former club's chances.
"They showed nothing," he said.
"This is a very, very difficult situation and I don't have much optimism for Hamburg's chances."