When Hamburg host Wolfsburg on the final day of the Bundesliga season, they will come up with a rather familiar situation of avoiding relegation once again. What will be slightly new for them though, will be that they will have a golden opportunity of condeming the Wolves to the relegation play-off spot, if they win at the Volksparkstadion on Saturday.
What would be a bonus for Hamburg is the presence of Markus Gisdol, a manager who has the know how of having avoided the drop previously with Hoffenheim back in 2015. Wolfsburg though, are slightly inexperienced in this aspect after having finished exactly were they are back in 2011- 15th.
But in games as big as this, past records go outside the window and what matters is how the team plays on the given day. And both Hamburg and Wolfsburg will be out to avoid the risk of going down.
Bad recent form can take Hamburg down
It's been a funny old season for Der Dino, apart from being a one with highly familiar conclusion and maybe even survival. It started off from the time when relegation seemed inevitable, rumbled onto when they seemed all but safe, but has come down to a scenario that they probably must have dreaded when Bruna Labaddia was axed as the boss back in September.
The season started off in disastarous fashion, as they failed to win a single game in opening twelve and Gisdol took his time in settling into his new job. In the next 14 games though, the men in blue lost only four games, winning eight and drawing the rest. And it seemed as if they will avoid the drop once again. But their form in the last six games has let them down. They've lost four, drawing twice and are in need of a win, if they don't desire to play a relegation play-off game against Eintracht Braunschweig later.
The problems lie on both fronts- attacking and defensive. The club has the second worst defensive record and have scored the second least amount of goals too. They have let in sixty goals, one less than the relegated Darmstadt and have scored just five more than the club from Hesse.
Who will get the goals?
Nicolai Muller, who endured a bad start to the campaign, has racked up a tally of six assists and five goals, while summer signer Bobby Wood has also scored just as many times.
It was Wolfsburg who came out on top in the previous outing at the Volkswagen Arena, as Albin Ekdal was sent off in the first half and a Mario Gomez late goal was enough to hand the men in green all three points.
A highly disappointing campaign for Wolfsburg
Along with the likes of Schalke, Borussia Monchengladbach and Bayer Leverkusen, Wolfsburg are another one of those bigger sides that have underperformed massively this season. The managerial instability has contributed a lot to the disappointment too, with Dieter Hecking and Valerien Ismael already having managed and left the club this very season. The amount of time that Andries Jonker had to turn things around has been less.
It's their inability to win games against clubs that are around them that has costed them points that could have taken them closer to the top half, but the inconsistencies in that aspect have made sure they are gasping for breath in the first division now.
They are far better than Hamburg in the defensive side of things, letting in only 50 times this season, but are almost just as bad in the goalscoring department, despite the presence of Mario Gomez up front. And it seems as if their recent tendency to sell their prized assets have costed them, with the new signings still trying to settle in.
And while Gomez has been brilliant in the goalscoring department, Wolfsburg's over-reliance on the aging German has brought about a lack of goals. He has scored 16 times in the Bundesliga, with Daniel Didavi being the second-highest goal-getter with just two goals.
And Die Wolves have enjoyed a better record in the fixture, with their last defeat to Der Dino coming back in 2011, when they finished where they currently are. They have won three out of the last five, drawing the other two.
Key absences for the Wolves
Wolfsburg will have to make do without winter capture Riechedly Bazoer, who is serving a suspension. Jonker will still be without Ricardo Rodriguez and Jeffrey Bruma, who have missed the previous three and ten games respectively.
As far as Hamburg are concerned, they'll have Dennis Diekmeier suspended, while Lewis Holtby and Albin Ekdal are doubts to feature. Nicolai Muller and Pierre Michel Lassoga are unlikely to feature, as they contiue their recoveries from knee and thigh injuries respectively.
Hamburg: Adler; Diekmeier, Papadopoulos, Mavraj, Santos; Sakai, Ostrzolek, Kostic, Jakka, Gregoritsch, Wood,
Wolfsburg: Casteels, Blaszczykowski, Knoche, Gerhardt, Horn, Arnold, Guilavogui, Vierinha, Didavi, Malli, Gomez