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Van der Vaart handed Hamburg captaincy

Rafael van der Vaart has been named as Hamburg's new captain in a bid to end the club's recent poor run of form.

Just a few months ago the Bundesliga side were cruising towards Europa League qualification. A 4-1 hammering of Borussia Dortmund in early February followed by a 1-0 win over Borussia Monchengladbach left Hamburg three points away from the Champions League spots.

However, in their last six games the club have picked up just four points and now lie 11th in the table. They have taken only one point from their last three home games and were on the receiving end of a 9-2 thrashing from Bayern Munich ten days ago.

In the aftermath of the Bayern game Hamburg captain Heiko Westermann came under fire, with several pundits and papers questioning if the 29-year-old was still the right man for the job.

"We need to find definite words for that during the week," Westermann said after the defeat.

And following Hamburg's 1-0 home defeat to Freiburg on Saturday coach Torsten Fink decided a change was needed, handing the armband to Van der Vaart.

"I want to partly relieve Heiko of his responsibilities, take the pressure away from him," Fink told kicker. "I have the feeling he will be able to better concentrate on his performances now."

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