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Hamburg are desperate to use their last chance to stay in Germany's top flight on Monday by beating Karlsruhe away to avoid an historic relegation from the Bundesliga.
Hamburg's last chance to avoid historic relegation
05/31/2015
 
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Hamburg are desperate to use their last chance to stay in Germany's top flight on Monday by beating Karlsruhe away to avoid an historic relegation from the Bundesliga.


"We are now facing a final and if we win it, we'll stay in the Bundesliga," summed up Hamburg coach Bruno Labbadia with the whole club dreading the prospect of defeat.


For the second year running, Hamburg finished 16th in the Bundesliga this season to face a relegation play-off against Karlsruhe, who finished third in the second tier.


The two sides drew the first-leg 1-1 in Hamburg last Thursday when Rouwen Hennings' early goal for Karlsruhe was cancelled out by Ivo Ilicevic's late equaliser for Hamburg.


Monday's return at Karlsruhe's Wildpark Stadium is sold-out as Hamburg bid to remain the only team in Germany's top flight to have never been relegated from the Bundesliga.


In contrast, Karlsruhe are just 90 minutes from a first return to the Bundesliga since their 2009 relegation.

Hamburg have a few selection issues with key defenders Heiko Westermann and Gojko Kacar both suspended after picking up yellow cards in the first leg.


Left winger Ilicevic, who scored the crucial first-leg equaliser, has a groin injury and veteran forward Ivica Olic has a back problem.


"I hope I feel better again in time. I really want to be involved," said 35-year-old Croatia international Olic.


Hamburg last won at Karlsruhe 17 years ago, but the hosts' coach Markus Kauczinski is taking nothing for granted especially with the second division's top-scorer Hennings, who hit 17 league goals, struggling with an ankle injury.


"We don't want to gamble at this stage, as we have something to win and Hamburg have something to lose," said Kauczinski, with his side looking to join second division champions Ingolstadt and runners-up Darmstadt in the Bundesliga next season.

Source: AFP
 
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