Hamburg-Bayern Munich Preview: Guardiola's men look to bounce back from Madrid mauling

Hamburg hope to take advantage of Bayern Munich’s deflated mood as they struggle to preserve their ever-present status in the Bundesliga.

Standing proud as the only club to have taken part in every Bundesliga season since its inception in 1963, Hamburg’s disappointing campaign leaves that record in severe danger.

Mirko Slomka’s side currently sit 16th in the table, a position which would put them into a two-legged play-off with the third-placed side in the second tier, to decide who plays in the top flight next season.

With the 15th-placed Stuttgart five points clear of Hamburg with only two games remaining, a play-off looks Hamburg’s best chance of survival, with Nuremberg and bottom club Eintracht Braunschweig one and two points behind them respectively, in the automatic relegation spots.

A 2-1 win over Champions League-chasing Bayer Leverkusen last month raised hopes of an escape, but three successive defeats since then have left Hamburg facing the harsh reality of dropping into the second tier.

Slomka, who took over from the sacked Bert van Marwijk in February, concedes that recent displays have not been of a high enough standard.

“It is true that how the players have recently performed is nowhere near enough and that they are playing with the very existence of staff at the club,” he said.

“We made that very clear to them before training on Tuesday by using a video.”

Saturday sees them welcome a wounded Bayern outfit to the Imtech Arena, with Pep Guardiola’s men hurting after a 4-0 mauling at the hands of Real Madrid in their Champions League semi-final second leg.

It has been suggested that winning the title so early has hindered Bayern’s preparations for matches at the business end of the season, with Tuesday’s thrashing leading to question about the possession-based style employed by Guardiola.

With two league matches remaining, Bayern will be hoping for a positive end to the campaign before their DFB-Pokal final against Borussia Dortmund on May 17.

In the aftermath of the crushing defeat in midweek, forward Thomas Muller has backed his side to respond.

“We won’t let our heads drop,” he said. “We’ve been successful over the past year and a half and now we’ve suffered a setback. We’re not going to hide away for the next three weeks.”

Slomka said that playmaker Rafael van der Vaart had trained “very well” after missing the last two matches with a thigh problem, while Bayern have no new injury concerns, with Thiago Alcantara (knee), Xherdan Shaqiri (thigh) and Holger Badstuber (knee) all continuing their rehabilitation in training this week.

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