Organising a birthday party usually means you have to do a few things. Get a cake, send out the invites and a few balloons shouldn’t go amiss either. Hamburg’s special anniversary was a little different. They celebrated 125 years of history on Saturday evening with 1000 guests and 10,000 fans in attendance for a gala at the O2 World Arena. That’s situated next to HSV’s very own Imtech Arena, a place where Hamburg were performing poorly at the start of this season. With the anniversary fast approaching, the Hamburg hierarchy must have been worried. After all, the mood of this weekend’s celebration was always going to be heavily dependent on how Hamburg were performing in the Bundesliga.
President Carl E. Jarchow joked on Saturday night that he was thankful Hamburg’s founding fathers hadn’t launched the club two weeks earlier. Indeed, it would have been a much more sombre and embarrassing occasion had the club’s anniversary been a fortnight ago after the horror start the Northerners made – three games, three losses.
The return of Rafael van der Vaart, dubbed the Messiah by some, coupled with the most unlikely of victories against Champions Borussia Dortmund lifted spirits tremendously. Throwing away a midweek lead against Borussia Mönchengladbach checked Hamburg’s adulation and on their anniversary weekend, they had high-flying Hannover to contend with in a Northern derby.
Come Saturday evening though, Hamburg had reason to celebrate their 125 years of existence with gusto, after a slender victory over their Lower Saxony counterparts. The only goal of the game was provided by HSV favourite van der Vaart. The Dutchman volleyed Artjom Rudnevs through on goal and he smashed past Ron-Robert Zieler with aplomb.
As has become customary this season when playing Hamburg, the opposition will always have quite a few opportunities but what is becoming equally constant is how René Adler will also be present to save his side on numerous occasions. Saturday’s encounter with Hannover was no different as Adler made a string of fine stops to ensure his first clean sheet of the season – something he deserves for his endeavours since his summer move from Bayer Leverkusen. Most importantly, the goalkeeper’s performance helped to secure a second Bundesliga win for Hamburg, as Thorsten Fink’s side climbed away from the relegation zone.
Slipping out of the top tier hasn’t been unthinkable such has been the quality of performances in recent months. Naturally the club are proud of the fact they are the only team in the Bundesliga to have never been relegated. What’s more, since 1919, Hamburg have always played in whatever has been Germany’s top flight.
This weekend did help to show what is special about the club but despite their recent resurgence, HSV are not out of the woods. Asides from René Adler, their defence looks poor and that continues to be a major worry but since van der Vaart’s arrival, goals haven’t looked hard to come by.
Prior to the Dutchman’s return, Hamburg had gone 6 hours in the Bundesliga without a goal but when van der Vaart’s played, they average two goals per game. So long as that statistic continues, the Bundesliga’s dinosaur will remain in the top flight for yet another season. Still, Saturday showed how big a club Hamburg are and there won’t (or shouldn’t) be any celebrations for a mid-table finish come the end of the campaign. The weekend’s anniversary was enjoyable for Hamburg but there’s quite a way to go until there’s reason to properly celebrate the efforts of the current team.
Elsewhere in the Bundesliga
Matchday 6 Results:
Fortuna Düsseldorf 2-2 Schalke
Bayer Leverkusen 2-0 Fürth
Hamburg 1-0 Hannover
Hoffenheim 0-0 Augsburg
Nuremberg 0-2 Stuttgart
Werder Bremen 0-2 Bayern Munich
Borussia Dortmund 5-0 Gladbach
Eintracht Frankfurt 2-1 Freiburg
Wolfsburg 0-2 Mainz
|1||FC Bayern Munich||6||6||0||0||19:2||+17||18||CL*|
|4||FC Schalke 04||6||3||2||1||12:7||+5||11||CL* Qual.|
|5||Hannover 96||6||3||1||2||14:9||+5||10||EL* Qual.|
|6||Fortuna Düsseldorf||6||2||4||0||6:2||+4||10||EL* Qual.|
|7||Bayer 04 Leverkusen||6||3||1||2||9:7||+2||10|
|8||SV Werder Bremen||6||2||1||3||9:10||-1||7|
|11||1. FSV Mainz 05||6||2||1||3||6:8||-2||7|
|12||1. FC Nuremberg||6||2||1||3||7:11||-4||7|
Table thanks to the official Bundesliga Website