Peace Cup Profiles: Hamburg - Germans Could Provide SAFC With Toughest Test

Thorsten Fink issues orders to his troops as Hamburg prepare themselves for this summer's Peace Cup. However, what sort of test can they provide to SAFC?

We start our team-by-team previews of the Peace Cup this week by looking at Hamburg. We could end up playing them in the final of the tournament on July 22nd, or the Third/Fourth place play-off that very same day.

So over the next few days you should find previews of Seongnam, Groningen and of course Hamburg who we start with today. We'll find out more about them, meet the manager and find out more on the clubs history as well as singling out one to watch and whether or not they represent a decent test for us.

Let's go...

Overview

Hamburg SV, or Hamburger Sport-Verein to give them their full title aren't just a football club, they're a sports enterprise, encompassing Women's Football, Cricket, Baseball and they even used to have a rugby team, although the Men's Football Team have been by far the most successful.

The club also have a strong connection with Glasgow Rangers, with fans at Ibrox regularly unfurling Hamburg flags at games after the two sets of fans became good friends in the late 1970's.

Recent History & Success

Hamburg have been a hugely successful team in both Germany and Europe, especially in their late-70's and early-80's heyday which saw them lift the Cup Winners Cup in 1977, the UEFA Cup in 1982, and eventually European football's biggest prize - the European Cup in 1983.

Back at home, they've topped the Bundesliga on six occasions, although not since 1983. They've also lifted the German Cup on three occasions, but again, not since 1987. They have fought back to try and recapture that glory in recent years with a string of top ten finishes, but last year they could only muster a 15th place finish.

Fun Fact

Hamburg hold a unique record in German football, in that they're the only side to never have been relegated from the top flight, and are the only side to have been in the Bundesliga since its inception.

Hamburg the town is home to Europe's second largest port, and the eleventh largest in the world, although keen port-fans will already have known that.

The Gaffer: Thorsten Fink

Many of us will remember Fink as the quality midfielder who patrolled the middle of the park for Bayern Munich in the late 1990's - notably when the side were defeated by Manchester United in the Champions League Final of 1999, when his sliced clearance lead to Teddy Sheringham's equalising goal.

He retired from the game in 2006 following injury, and immediately went into coaching. He started off at Red Bull Salzburg as Giovanni Trappatoni's assistant, before moving on to FC Ingolstadt.

Fink Lasted just two years in Ingolstadt before being fired by the club, but he wasn't out of work for long as only a month later he found himself back in employment with FC Basel, where he picked up numerous Swiss league titles and cups as his side dominated the domestic game.

In 2011 Fink moved to Hamburg, however in his debut season he guided the club to their lowest Bundesliga finish in over a decade as they finished 15th last season.

The Team

Fink has a strong squad to work with, and they should prove to be formidable opposition should we play them in this tournament.

Captained by defender and German international Heiko Westermann, they have a strong defence which also boasts the talented Dennis Aogo and former Chelsea defender Michael Mancienne. There's further Chelsea connections in the squad too with Jeffrey Bruma spending time on loan there last season, in addition to the club having picked up former Chelsea reserves/youths Slobodan Rajkovic, Gokhan Tore and Jacopo Sala.

Hamburg's involvement in the Peace Cup will largely have been down to them having one of South Korea's leading prospect's in their ranks, in the form of striker Son Heung-Min, who joined the Germans at just 16-years old, and has gone on to make over 40 appearances for the side, scoring 8 goals.

For fans of computer games, look out for Per Ciljan Skjelbred in midfield, who was an essential buy on Football Manager 2011.

One To Watch: Artjoms Rudnevs

The Latvian striker was only recently signed by Hamburg, but he could be one to watch for having been prolific throughout his career, and now gets his big break at Hamburg at the age of 24.

Rudnevs started at his local Latvian side, FC Daugova, where he hit 21 goals in 75 matches before catching the eye of Hungarian side ZTE. In his one season in Hungary he hit 20 goals in 30 games, attracting the attention of Lech Poznan, who eventually tied him down to a four year contract.

Rudnevs had some very enjoyable moments with Poznan, including scoring against Juventus to eliminate them from European competition for the season in a 1-1 draw. Rudnevs finished his Poznan career with 33 goals in 56 games.

An excellent and clinical all-round striker, if our defenders are still feeling a little rusty Rudnevs could well take advantage of any misplaced pass or tackle.

A Tough Test For Sunderland?

Yes, absolutely. If we get to play them of course. It would be fair to say that Hamburg are up there with ourselves as the strongest team in the tournament, and personally I'd put them on a par with say, Everton, in terms of strength. If they're on form, they could give us a right hammering, but hopefully we're stronger and better this preseason and Martin O'Neill can find away to beat them.

They're a small squad with some high quality players, and will give us, again should we play them, our toughest test of the preseason.

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