Football

Published: Thursday March 27, 2014 MYT 7:52:03 PM
Updated: Thursday March 27, 2014 MYT 7:53:01 PM

Monster weekend for 'Bundesliga Dinosaur' Hamburg

(Reuters) - 'Bundesliga Dinosaur' Hamburg SV's battle to avoid their first relegation season hots up on Sunday and coach Mirko Slomka is hoping a win at Borussia Moenchengladbach will provide the turning point.

The former European champions are the only team never to have played in the second division since the Bundesliga was set up in 1963, hence their dinosaur nickname.

However, Hamburg's place in the top flight is under serious threat after sliding into the relegation playoff spot with two wins in 14 league games.

A 1-1 draw at home to Freiburg on Wednesday felt more like a defeat because it was another chance wasted against a relegation rival.

"We trailed in a league game for the 21st time this season and that says it all really," coach Mirko Slomka told reporters.

"We failed to move up at least one spot but we will just keep trying. On Sunday we have our next chance and we can get all three points at Gladbach," added Slomka who took over from Bert van Marwijk in February.

The coach will be encouraged by Pierre-Michel Lasogga's return from injury after the forward scored his team's only goal against Freiburg.

Hamburg are 16th on 24 points, the same as second from bottom VfB Stuttgart. Freiburg have two points more in 15th.

"It will be a rollercoaster until the last day," said Lasogga. "No one should feel safe down here but maybe we can start a run and get ourselves a bit more breathing space."

Gladbach, sixth on 42 points, want to bounce back from their 1-0 defeat at Eintracht Frankfurt on Wednesday and get in contention for a fourth-place finish and a Champions League qualifying round spot.

"I have always said that each game from now on will be a battle," said Gladbach coach Lucien Favre.

"It is very difficult to play against teams fighting to avoid relegation. That is what the game against Frankfurt showed us."

Champions Bayern Munich, who secured the title with a 3-1 victory at Hertha Berlin on Tuesday, look to extend their 19-game winning streak in the league at home to Hoffenheim on Saturday.

Bayern will want to avoid any slip-ups ahead of the Champions League quarter-final first leg against Manchester United next week.

Borussia Dortmund, who meet Real Madrid in the Champions League, are 25 points adrift in second position and travel to Stuttgart on Saturday in a bid to protect a one-point lead over third-placed Schalke 04.

(Editing by Tony Jimenez)

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