Rafael van der Vaart fearing relegation
Hamburg captain Rafael van der Vaart says the club will be relegated if performances do not improve after a 3-0 home defeat to Schalke left them third from bottom.
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Hamburg, the only club to have remained in the Bundesliga throughout its 51-season history, currently sit 16th, in the relegation playoff spot, after results conspired against them at the weekend.
“The unrest is growing. That hurts,” Van der Vaart, who returned to the club from Tottenham in 2012, told Bild on Monday. “If we continue to play like that we will get relegated. The disappointment is huge.”
Fewer than 25,000 fans remained inside the 57,000-capacity Hamburg Arena when the final whistle went on Sunday, and coach Bert van Marwijk told reporters: “I think I would have also gone home. I think that the spectators were rather polite.”
Hamburg had been 16th when former Netherlands coach Van Marwijk took the reins in September and, despite an initial upturn in results, a run of four straight defeats has seen them thrust back into the relegation fight.
“We can all read the standings,” right-back Dennis Diekmeier said on Sunday. “We are right there at the bottom. Only wins can help us now.”
Centre-back Heiko Westermann added that there “was no unity” and that Schalke were handed “an open invitation to score all three goals.”
There was further misery for Hamburg during the match as attacker Pierre-Michel Lasogga had to be substituted after only 24 minutes, with full-back Zhi-Gin Lam following soon afterwards.
The club confirmed on Twitter on Monday that Lasogga has torn a muscle in his thigh, which is expected to rule him out for several weeks, while Lam could face an even longer spell on the sidelines with an ankle injury.