Hamburg hope for safety with six clubs in Bundesliga final day relegation fight
Hamburg goalkeeper Rene Adler has admitted the club's fate is "no longer in our hands" as they bid to avoid relegation from the Bundesliga for the first time in their history.
Six clubs could still be relegated from the German top flight going into the final round of fixtures on Saturday.
Hamburg, the only club to have played in all 52 seasons of the Bundesliga, need three points in their match against Schalke -- but even a win might not be enough to avoid the drop.
With 90 minutes of football left to be played, bottom club Paderborn and Hertha Berlin (13th) are separated by just four points. Sandwiched in between are Hamburg, Stuttgart, Hannover and Freiburg.
Two clubs are directly relegated from the Bundesliga, with the side that finishes in 16th going on to contest the remaining spot with the third-placed team from Bundesliga II.
Reaching the playoffs is the best-case scenario for Paderborn, who suffered a last-minute defeat at Schalke on Saturday and currently have 31 points and a goal difference of -33.
Finishing 16th is also the worst-case scenario for Hertha Berlin, who sit on 35 points with a goal difference of -15.
Both Hannover and Freiburg have a realistic chance to avoid the drop, and they will meet at the Niedersachsenstadion on Saturday.
A draw would be enough for the two sides to stay up should Stuttgart fail to take all three points at Paderborn, who themselves need to win against the 2007 Bundesliga champions to enter the playoffs.
The starting positions ahead of the final match day leave Bundesliga "dinosaurs" Hamburg with a mountain to climb to stay in the league.
Hamburg -- who lost 2-1 at Stuttgart on Saturday despite holding a 1-0 lead -- need not only to beat Schalke on Saturday, but also hope that Hannover and Freiburg do not draw and Stuttgart fail to beat Paderborn to avoid direct relegation.
"It's an awkward feeling that it's no longer in our hands," keeper Adler told reporters following the loss. "We need to do our homework, just do everything and then hope and pray that the other results go our way."
Bruno Labbadia, Hamburg's fourth coach of the season, warned his side to "not lose their cool" for the final game against Schalke.
The coach has won seven points from four games since being appointed in mid-April, but admitted that the "starting position has drastically worsened" following the Stuttgart defeat.
"It is like it is, we need to focus on our final game and win it. We have the chance to beat Schalke. We can't influence the other results," he said.
Hamburg CEO Dietmar Beiersdorfer urged his team to be mentally and physically fresh against the Royal Blues, and refused to comment on the potential relegation to Bundesliga II.
On Monday, the club announced they will go into one final training camp from Wednesday to Friday to fully concentrate on their task, with Beiersdorfer adding: "Only Saturday counts from now on."
Meanwhile, the Bundesliga career of Hamburg captain Rafael van der Vaart has come to an early end.
The former Tottenham midfielder -- who will leave the club and the league on a free transfer this summer -- was presented his 10th yellow card of the season, and is suspended for the crucial Schalke clash.