Three months after their first-ever relegation from the Bundesliga, Hamburg begin a new chapter at home to Holstein Kiel. The fans expect immediate promotion, but coach Christian Titz is well aware of the difficulties. Now, 35 years later, one of Germany's most famous clubs is on the brink of being relegated from the Bundesliga for the first time. How has it come to this?
Three hundred ships, a huge fireworks display and a three-day party — every year over 1 million visitors flock to Hamburg's Hafengeburtstag. But what makes it so fascinating? DW reporter Evan Woodnorth went to find out. Supporters of newly-promoted Bundesliga side Paderborn have threatened to take drastic action at games next season if a planned cooperation with RB Leipzig goes ahead. The club insists the deal is nothing to worry about. Until a year ago, Hamburg were the only club never to have been relegated from the Bundesliga.
Their failure to win promotion on first attempt has left fans and former stars like Felix Magath shaking their heads. Click here for the latest Bundesliga results and the current league standings. Here you can also scroll through the results from past matchdays as well as the league standings in previous weeks.
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There, they're extinguished by some of the 36 firemen on duty inside the stadium. Beneath the bouncing stand, the rival teams are limbering up in the tunnel between the dressing rooms and its exit above ground in front of the north stand. Then we'd see the colour drain from their faces as they walked from the tunnel into the dragon's lair in front of our fans.
They'd run quickly toward their own. Then they looked around to see a giant flag of Asterix and Obelix beating the Romans -- the ultra leaders are very imaginative. Sunk into a natural dip in a hillside in the leafy Topcider residential district of Belgrade, the ground, which once had a capacity of 97,, now seats half that. Its concrete exterior is ageing and covered in graffiti, much of it Anglicised. It's intimidating and incongruous amid the woodland and embassies of one of the Serbian capital's best addresses.
The design of a single continuous tier, with a small concrete lip acting as a roof to keep the rain out and the noise in, amplifies sound. As kickoff approaches, the din is so loud and the fans so raucous that it's easy to forget the players are out on the pitch. Even they begin to watch the stands, and what happens next will make headlines across the world. A group of around men dressed in black enter the back of the east stand closest to the Partizan end and become noticeable when they run down the 30 rows of seating toward the pitch. Next, they turn and sprint alongside the adjacent running track towards Red Star's north end.
From there, another group of fans are also sprinting towards them. A roar goes up around the bowl as the two groups of men clash. Two of them are the rival fans described earlier.
Derby Days by Dougie Brimson and Eddy Brimson - Read Online
Before long Red Star fans scramble over a fence in the north stand to bolster the numbers of fighters as other supporters, who have come to watch a game of football rather than adults stamp on each other's heads, back off. Police with riot shields on one arm and batons on the other dodge flares and stun grenades as they try to break up the fighting.
The trouble doesn't relent, but the patterns shift with fighters switching direction like a flock of birds on a midsummer's night. The Partizan fans return to what has become another unofficial section and, like the rest of the 43, crowd, watch a new battle in the north stand between Red Star fans and riot police, who are attacked with seats and more blazing flares as they charge forward and then retreat up the terracing. The police bring in hundreds of reinforcements but their very presence on a terrace the fans consider to be their own causes grave offence.
With a backdrop of the sun setting on Belgrade's low hills, big rivers and the gleaming white Orthodox church, the violence delays the match for 45 minutes. Fans appear to be crushed and trampled and there appear to be numerous injuries. A police helicopter is impotent in the face of such visceral aggression, where the dominant sound is the smack of plastic seat hitting riot shield. A white, dove-like bird crosses the stadium alone, but there's no peace here and it flies away from the chaos.
Finally, like a fire, the trouble starts to burn itself out. There appears to be communication between ultra leaders and police and a demarcation line is drawn. The game begins. Serbian hospitality is excellent and the hosts' passion for football is evident. Ranko Djordic played for Red Star and Yugoslavia in the s.
When he was a child, Yugoslavia reached two European championship finals, won Olympic gold and made the semifinals of the World Cup. As a prodigious talent, he had a chance to go to Red Star or Partizan.
Partizan, though, were undeterred. Partizan were the team of the army their stadium was called the Yugoslavia People's Army Stadium , I knew that. And Partizan had a contract there for me. All I had to do was sign. I was very afraid but I said, 'Let me go to China first and then I'll meet you again after the trip'.
The military was very strong, but when I told the Red Star people they didn't let me out of their sight on my return. They met me back from the plane in China and I signed for them. I considered Red Star to be the bohemian club of the people.
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I was always paid my wages in cash. You don't need a cell phone here to entertain yourself. The ingredients are there for great teams. We produce the perfect mushrooms for the best dish, but if the mushrooms are wrenched out of the ground before they've got time to grow properly, they're not the same. Djordic, whose son Bojan also played for Red Star and Serbia as well as Manchester United and Rangers, is referring to the football talent poached from the Balkans by richer nations.
And we're not just losing our best talents to England or Spain, but smaller countries. The football has suffered a lot here. That helps make good players. But when they develop, the agents also know that the clubs need money and cannot afford for the best kids to develop, not even for one more year, when they might get three times the price.
On derby day in Belgrade, violence overshadows events on the pitch
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