Hamburg haunted again at Bayern Munich's house of horrors

HSV’s malaise has run deep this season, and it will need a real shift in terms of collective responsibility to avoid a season’s end as ruinous as its start

“This is something that can’t be allowed to happen, but it has happened.” Just when life starts to look good again, along come Bayern Munich. Or more specifically in Hamburg’s case, a trip to Munich to face them in the Allianz Arena. Among a squad of shell-shocked players, few seemed quite as humbled as the captain, Gotoku Sakai, after Saturday’s 8-0 drubbing by Bayern.

In terms of even recent historical perspective, it was hardly a coupon-buster. Starting from 2010, Hamburg’s reverses on their visits to Bayern have been by the scores of 6-0, 5-0, 9-2, 3-1, 8-0, 5-0. When they lost 8-0 here the last time, in early 2015, it was the biggest defeat Der Dino had suffered during an ever-present stay in the Bundesliga. This Saturday, it barely seemed worth an arch of Carlo Ancelotti’s famously active left eyebrow.

It was as calm a 1,000th career match on the bench as the Italian could have hoped for, with the pre-match presentation of a bouquet of flowers and an enormous over-sized bread pretzel to the mildly-bemused Ancelotti more awkward than anything his players would face on the field. “In the Bundesliga you really have to fight for every goal,” the hat-trick hero Robert Lewandowski remarked after the match, “but today it was easy.” Rarely do players – even Bayern players – employ such a brutal level of honesty.

Hamburg may have been here before but boy, did this one hurt. This latest instalment of punishment from Bayern was, in the words of the goalkeeper René Adler, “simply unbearable”. Following a shambolic start to the season, with five straight defeats, it had felt like the club was beginning to turn a corner, with Jens Todt replacing the much-maligned Dietmar Beiersdorfer as sporting director at the start of the year and Hamburg entering this match on a sequence of four unbeaten matches, which included progress to the last eight of the DfB Pokal.

Defeat here was expected. A collapse of this magnitude, however, has made everyone wonder if this new house was just built on sand. Coach Markus Gisdol’s touchline demeanour was taken as representative of his team’s efforts in some quarters – standing, cajoling in the technical area for the first quarter of an hour, and then sat down for the rest of the encounter.

On Sunday morning, Hamburger Morgenpost shook its head in disbelief that “this was the HSV that won 3-0 in Leipzig two weeks ago”. That’s not entirely true; Kyriakos Papadopoulos, who has been an inspiration since arriving on loan from Bayer Leverkusen and scored the opener in that match, was nursing a shoulder complaint here, and Johan Djourou wasn’t much of a replacement, in truth. The wisdom of leaning so heavily on a player who has suffered such a litany of injuries in recent years is open to question but regardless, Papadopoulos’ return in the next few matches will be vital, with this defeat returning HSV to the relegation play-off spot of third bottom.

Robert Lewandowski scores from the spot during Bayern’s rout.
Robert Lewandowski scores from the spot during Bayern’s rout. Photograph: Guenter Schiffmann/AFP/Getty Images

Gisdol had talked before the game of his desire to “get stuck in”, but there was little evidence of that. In his, and the squad’s, defence a flu bug had swept through the camp in the second half of last week, with Albin Ekdal, Aaron Hunt (who both started on the bench) and Michael Gregoritsch among those affected. A lack of energy could only partially explain just how bad this was; mostly, it all tallied with the sense of HSV holding something back, with the joint top scorer Bobby Wood left on the bench for the duration, after Gisdol warned “we have to be careful with him” before the match.

The real challenges start now, with three successive home games – the DfB Pokal quarter-final against Borussia Mönchengladbach on Wednesday is followed by a league meeting with the same opponents, with the visit of Hertha Berlin sandwiched between them. Gisdol and his players will lock themselves away before then in an attempt to foster some sort of siege mentality, with no open training sessions before the midweek game.

The concern, after Saturday, is that the old habits and mentalities are too deeply ingrained. After the penalty with which Lewandowski made it 2-0, HSV have now given away seven spot-kicks, a league high – and each one has been conceded by a different player. The malaise has run deep this season, and it will need a real shift in terms of collective responsibility to avoid a season’s end as ruinous as its start.

Talking points

• After losing the relegation six-pointer with Werder Bremen, it felt inevitable that Wolfsburg announced the firing of coach Valérien Ismaël on Sunday – though it was, the club said, “based upon the impressions and results from recent weeks and months” rather than just Friday’s result. The surprise replacement is Andries Jonker, the coach of Arsenal’s academy side. Jonker knows the club, having been Dieter Hecking’s assistant for two seasons between 2012 and 2014, after working with Louis van Gaal at Bayern. However, the affable Dutchman inherits a disjointed and demoralised squad, poles apart from the model of stability that Hecking and the erstwhile sporting director Klaus Allofs were building in his days there. By appointing him rather than a tried and tested relegation saviour like Bruno Labbadia, Die Wölfe are taking a big risk.

• Roger Schmidt might be not be that far behind Ismaël, with Leverkusen completing a lousy week with a 2-0 home reverse by Mainz, four days after Atlético Madrid all but ousted Die Werkself from the Champions League, again at the BayArena. Linked with the Bayern job not so long ago, Schmidt seems less and less convinced that he can get the best out of a talented – and quite expensive – squad. “When we don’t reach our top level,” he mused after Saturday’s game, “teams make it very difficult for us.” That doesn’t bode well for a club hoping to compete on domestic and European fronts. With an eight-point gap to the Champions League places and a trip to Dortmund up next on Saturday, the coach is walking a tightrope.

Mainz’s players celebrates after their win at Bayer Leverkusen.
Mainz’s players celebrates after their win at Bayer Leverkusen. Photograph: Friedemann Vogel/EPA

• Dortmund warmed up for that one – and for the DfB Pokal quarter-final against third-tier Lotte, who knocked out Leverkusen – with a 3-0 stroll at Freiburg, their favourite punchbags. Christian Streich’s side are no pushovers at home but have now lost 12 straight against Die Schwarzgelben. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang ended a spell of almost seven hours without a goal with a pair of tap-ins to seal the deal.

• After his 12-minute hat-trick at Fiorentina on Thursday night underpinned an improbable Gladbach comeback in Europe, it was another handy contribution from Lars Stindl on Sunday – a little too literally, as his opener at Ingolstadt flew in off his forearm, but was allowed to stand by referee Christian Dingert. The Ingolstadt sporting director, Thomas Linke, and captain, Marvin Matip, were both adamant that it was a “clear” free-kick – Linke even went to the length of handing over his microphone in his post-match interview with Sky to mime the scenario – and though Stindl said it was unintentional, he did add that “you could see in my celebration that I was waiting to see if the referee was going to whistle”.

• Timo Werner hit his 13th goal of the season in RB Leipzig’s 3-1 win over Köln on Saturday, and what a goal it was – an unerring cross-shot into the far corner when the angle looked impossible. The 20-year-old is the top-scoring German in the Bundesliga and has every reason to hope before Jögi Löw announces his squad in a few weeks to face England and Azerbaijan. Serge Gnabry, who netted both goals in Werder Bremen’s win at Wolfsburg to take him into double figures for the campaign, looks good for a place too.

Results: VfL Wolfsburg 1-2 Werder Bremen, Bayern Munich 8-0 Hamburg, Bayer Leverkusen 0-2 Mainz, RB Leipzig 3-1 FC Köln, Freiburg 0-3 Borussia Dortmund, Darmstadt 1-2 Augsburg, Hertha Berlin 2-0 Eintracht Frankfurt, Ingolstadt 0-2 Borussia Mönchengladbach, Schalke 1-1 Hoffenheim.

Pos Team P GD Pts
1 Bayern Munich 22 41 53
2 RB Leipzig 22 19 48
3 Borussia Dortmund 22 23 40
4 TSG Hoffenheim 22 17 38
5 Hertha Berlin 22 6 37
6 Eintracht Frankfurt 22 3 35
7 Cologne 22 9 33
8 Bayer Leverkusen 22 2 30
9 SC Freiburg 22 -11 30
10 Borussia M'gladbach 22 -4 29
11 Mainz 22 -6 28
12 Schalke 04 22 3 27
13 Augsburg 22 -7 27
14 Wolfsburg 22 -13 22
15 Werder Bremen 22 -15 22
16 Hamburg 22 -24 20
17 FC Ingolstadt 22 -15 18
18 Darmstadt 22 -28 12