When Hamburg head coach Bruno Labbadia glanced at the opening day fixtures for the 2015-16 Bundesliga campaign, he must have feared the worst after his team was paired with reigning champions Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena in a match which was then switched to Friday evening for a live television audience. The Bavarian team eventually won the game 5-0 but for Hamburg, it may have been a relief to complete their most difficult game of the season and to escape by conceding just five goals.
For the two teams involved in Friday evening’s encounter, the past few seasons could not have been more diverse in terms of their respective achievements. Bayern have decisively won three consecutive Bundesliga titles, completed the domestic double on two occasions and won the Champions League in 2013. By contrast, Hamburg have maintained their top flight status by winning the relegation playoff in the last two campaigns by beating both Greuther Furth in 2014 and Karlsruher in May/June this year.
Furthermore, Bayern beat Hamburg in a league game last season by an 8-0 scoreline and just prior to the beginning of the current campaign, Pep Guardiola’s team comfortably beat fifth tier team Nottingen 3-1 in DFB cup tie, whereas Carl Zeiss Jena from the four level of German football beat Hamburg 3-2 after extra-time in the same competition.
With Hamburg having been restricted to fairly modest signings during the summer including Lewis Holtby, Michael Gregoritsch and Sven Schipplock for a combined outlay of just in excess of 10 million euros, Bayern have bolstered their ranks by recruiting Arturo Vidal from Juventus (35 million euros) and the former Shakhtar Donetsk winger Douglas Costa (30 million euros) amongst others.
It was therefore no surprise that Bayern Munich began Friday evening’s game as overwhelming favourites to secure maximum points but with Medhi Benatia heading a the only goal for the home team prior to the interval, there must have been some hope among the away contingent that the Bavarian team were not fully tuned for the opening league game of the season.
Those hopes dissipated during a one-side second period with Bayern adding four more goals without reply as Costa netted on his league debut while Thomas Muller (2) and Robert Lewandowski completed the scoring. Manuel Neuer in the home goal enjoyed one of his more relaxing 90 minutes of football as Bayern Munich confirmed their current superiority over Hamburg with this result adding to the 8-0, 3-1, 9-2, 5-0 and 6-0 victories in the corresponding fixture since early 2011.
Bruno Labbadia will now be relieved to be able to concentrate on the remainder of the season and maintain Hamburg’s record of never being relegated from the Bundesliga. On the evidence of the opening game of this season, it could be another difficult campaign for a team which clinched won the Bundesliga and European Cup double in 1983 but has now apparently declined to a level o