A raft of injuries to key players and a tough final fortnight has put Hamburg's perfect Bundesliga record under serious threat.
Hamburg are the only club to have played in all 51 seasons of the Bundesliga but after last week's 3-1 loss at Augsburg, the north German club have slipped five points from safety ahead of a clash with champions Bayern Munich on Saturday.
The northerners will complete their league campaign with a trip to Mainz, who could still be chasing UEFA Europa League qualification on the final day.
The injury list at Imtech Arena includes four regular first XI players, while Tolgay Arslan, who has made the most Bundesliga appearances this season, is suspended.
In a boost for Hamburg coach Mirko Slomka, captain Rafael van der Vaart (calf) and veteran Heiko Westermann (illness) will be available for selection against Bayern but the 46-year-old tactician knows it will be incredibly tough to get anything from the Bavarian giants.
"The lay of the land's pretty obvious when you're up against FC Bayern," Slomka said on Friday.
"But obviously we're going to go out there and give it everything we've got.
"We want to try to get right on top of them, make it as uncomfortable as possible and look to create the odd chance of our own."
Hamburg is expected to be without leading goal-scorer Pierre-Michel Lasogga (calf), his understudy Jacques Zoua (thigh), and key defenders Johan Djourou (hamstring) and Lasse Sobiech (ankle) against Bayern.
With Italian striker Mattia Maggio having struggled against Augsburg in a rare start, Slomka is likely to rotate Van der Vaart and Hakan Calhanoglu up front on Saturday, as Hamburg aim for a miraculous victory.
Stuttgart (32 points) sit ahead of Hamburg (27) in the last safe spot in the Bundesliga with Nuremberg (26) and last-placed Eintracht Braunschweig (25) able to overhaul Slomka's men if they lose to Bayern.
Hamburg need Stuttgart to lose their last two matches if they are to rise from 16th - which would force them into a two-legged relegation play-off with the third-placed club in 2.Bundesliga - and secure their safety.
Fortunately for Hamburg, Stuttgart also have a tough run home with games against fifth-placed Wolfsburg and Bayern.
But Slomka conceded his team are far behind Pep Guardiola's champions.
"Bayern absolutely dominate the Bundesliga," Slomka said.
"A point from the game would be a huge surprise and a win a sensation against them.
"If we want to cause a sensation, we're going to have go to the very limit."
If Hamburg defeat Bayern, and Nuremburg and Braunschweig lose to Hannover and Augsburg respectively in the penultimate round, Slomka's side will avoid automatic relegation but may still have to compete in the play-off.
|23||R. van der Vaart|
|Coach: M. Slomka|
for D. Diekmeier 60'
for R. van der Vaart 68'
for H. Westermann 76'
|Poyet delighted to have ´contagious´ Cattermole back|
|Melbourne City 3 Adelaide United 1: Baharudin triggers crucial comeback|
|Chelsea can cope with Matic absence - Terry|
|Mancini: I tried to take Guarin to Galatasaray|
|Wilshere undergoes ankle procedure|
|Bruce: Most Championship clubs would struggle with FFP|
|Henry would say yes to Arsenal job|
|Mignolet backs ´devastated´ Liverpool to regroup|
|Tiote looks set to miss the rest of the season|
|Copa Libertadores Review: Osvaldo scores for Boca, Internacional win|
|Alajuelense 5 DC United 2: Costa Ricans set for semis|
|Besiktas settled score with Liverpool - Cenk|
|Montella: Hard to keep Salah|
|Martinez salutes Everton´s qualification|
|Europa League games marred by crowd trouble|
|UEFA Europa League Review: Lovren misses crucial spot kick as Liverpool crash out|
|Rodgers rues lack of Liverpool guile|
|Pochettino laments ´key´ Soldado miss|
|Everton 3 Young Boys 1 (7-2 agg): Tormentor-in-chief Lukaku on song again|
|Serie A games to start late in show of support for Parma|
|Mancini irked by mistakes despite win|
|Besiktas 1 Liverpool 0 (aet, 1-1 agg, 5-4 pens): Lovren misses decisive spot-kick|
|Chelsea agree record sponsorship deal|
|Fiorentina 2 Tottenham 0 (3-1 agg): Gomez and Salah eliminate Spurs|
|Inter 1 Celtic 0 (4-3 agg): Guarin stunner sees Mancini´s men through|
|Manchester United v Sunderland: Poyet eyeing another Old Trafford upset|
|Monk has no problem with Van Gaal|
|Borussia Dortmund v Schalke: Di Matteo buzzing ahead of derby debut|
|Poyet not prepared to risk returning duo against United|
|Sherwood seeks six wins for survival|
|Championship Preview: Neil relishing East Anglian derby|
|Newcastle United v Aston Villa: Carver praises rejuvenated visitors|
|Granada v Barcelona: Catalan giants aiming to put pressure back on Real|
|Burnley v Swansea City: Monk targets 40 points in record time|
|Stoke City v Hull City: Meyler focused on maintaining resurgence|
|West Brom v Southampton: Pulis warns of continued dogfight|
|Police identify Chelsea fans over racist chanting|
|Guardiola warns against complacency|
|West Ham v Crystal Palace: Allardyce wary of being caught on counter|
|Parma GM compares club to the Titanic|
|Alderweireld close to Southampton return|
|Dyche keen to move on from Barnes furore|
|Gutierrez in Newcastle squad for Villa clash|
|Union chief urges action over Serbia gun threat|
|Berahino doubtful for Southampton clash|
|German citizenship? Why not? - Ribery|
|League Two Preview: Bury hope winning environment rubs off, Burton host Newport|
|Klopp hoping to avoid any nasty surprises after bomb discovery|
|Blackett pens new United deal|
|Sakho to return to training|
|Flores quits Getafe for personal reasons|
|Busquets agrees new Barcelona deal|
|Martino ´could not be happy´ at Barcelona|
|Allardyce striving to develop more Nobles|
|Nani hopeful of United return|
|Unexploded bomb found near Dortmund stadium|
|Lippi leaves Evergrande for personal reasons|
|Chelsea issue cup final warning to fans|
|Ancelotti has no intention to re-sign Morata|
|Dunkin´ Donuts sorry after Liverpool fans slam alternate club crest|
|Noble signs new West Ham contract|
|Sterling hopeful of contract resolution|
|Ali renews UAE contract|
|Deportivo Saprissa 0 America 3: Visitors win with late blitz|
|Copa Libertadores Review: Pato´s streak continues|
|Chievo v Milan: Abbiati wants consistency from Inzaghi´s men|
|Valverde wants momentum ahead of ´crucial´ week|
|Deila challenges Van Dijk, Denayer|
|Serie A Preview: Roma in crucial clash with Juve, resurgent Inter at home|
|Prince Albert: I feel for Wenger|
|Jardim salutes Monaco´s game plan|
|Schmidt dreaming of UEFA Champions League quarter finals|
|Arsenal face ´extremely difficult´ challenge - Wenger|
|Simeone rues missed Atletico opportunities|
|Berbatov questions Arsenal mentality|
|Calhanoglu confident Leverkusen can progress|
|Nottingham Forest 2 Bournemouth 1: Freedman´s dream start continues|
|Gabi upbeat despite Leverkusen defeat|
|Ligue 1 Preview: Monaco host PSG, Lille look to arrest slump|
|Arsenal 1 Monaco 3: All to do for Wenger´s men after limp first-leg display|
|Bayer Leverkusen 1 Atletico Madrid 0: Calhanoglu gives hosts narrow advantage|
|AFC Champions League Review: Western Sydney off to winning start|
|Piszczek blow for Dortmund|
|Bayern Munich v Cologne: Lewandowski wants more of the same from champions|
|Totti: Feyenoord win can be turning point|
|Icardi can be one of world´s best - Mancini|
|Crowe could ride to Leeds´ rescue|
|Martinez to keep faith with Howard|
|O´Brien fined for dissent in UAE victory|
|La Liga Preview: Messi aims to bounce back from penalty miss, leaders Real host Villarreal|
|Eredivisie Preview: Last chance saloon for De Boer´s Ajax|
|Amnesty International: Qatar must improve labour conditions|
|Greek professional football suspended|
|Liverpool trio out of Besiktas clash|
|Bundesliga Preview: Dortmund set for Ruhr derby, Bayern host Cologne|
|Rami to miss Chievo clash|
|Genoa game will go ahead, says Manenti|
|Neymar involved in spat with City fan|
|Steaua receive stadium ban from UEFA|
|Giaccherini out for majority of season|
|Brighton fined £90,000 for breach of agent rules|
|Chelsea try to identify seven over alleged racist chanting|
|No compensation for clubs over 2022 World Cup|
|Suarez: City fans´ boos helped inspire double|
|Not the right time for Gutierrez yet, says Carver|
|Naismith happy to be in the wars|
|CONCACAF Champions League Review: Pachuca reel in Montreal|
|Copa Libertadores Review: Another Bou hat-trick sees Racing win|
|A-League Preview: Sydney wary of Wanderers ahead of derby|
|Qatar 2022 date change strengthens calls for FIFA overhaul|
|Pellegrini: Champions League tie not over|
|Bresciano calls time on Australia career|
|Barcelona defend Messi´s penalty miss|
|Football League Review: Derby stay two points clear, Middlesbrough bounce back|