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Hamburg SV coach Bruno Labbadia’s job has been hanging in the balance for weeks. But any development on that front was put on ice when Hamburg advanced to the Europa League semi-finals against Belgium’s Standard Liege on Thursday.
There is no denying, however, that Labbadia has underperformed at Hamburg, desperate for some silverware after a title drought that stretches back decades. After a very good start to the season, they imploded after the winter break, admittedly, in part, due to major injuries to key players including strikers Mladen Petric and Paolo Guerrero.
With only three wins in 12 matches, Hamburg are playing with fire and could miss out on a lucrative European spot for next season. They are currently in sixth place on 45 points, three off a Europa League spot, despite signing Ruud van Nistelrooy.
This sounds so familiar to both Labbadia as well as Hamburg.
Labbadia was in charge at Bayer Leverkusen last season and a stunning run put them in fifth place, three off the top, at the halfway mark. But hugely talented Leverkusen, who had played some exciting football, tumbled down to ninth at the end of the season and Labbadia was axed.
Now that the Bundesliga is done and dusted and Wolfsburg are deserved champions, one should spare a thought for Hamburg SV who until a few weeks ago were in the running for three trophies. They ended up with none.
But Hamburg are arguably the only team in the Bundesliga this season who managed to play high level football in all competitions. Wolfsburg only needed to do it for one, after being eliminated early on in the UEFA Cup and the German Cup. Bayern were out in the last eight in the Champions League and the German Cup.
Paolo Guerrero scored twice for Hamburg SV on Sunday in their 2-1 win over Schalke 04, whose consolation was scored by his compatriot Jefferson Farfan.