Bundesliga preview: Rafael van der Vaart set for second Hamburg debut

 

Rafael van der Vaart has returned to his second homeland with expectations on him to restore some glamor to Hamburger SV and, more importantly, save the Bundesliga club from relegation.

Hamburg is the only club never to have been relegated in 50 years of the Bundesliga, but the former European champion has been struggling in recent years and barely escaped demotion last season. 

Having started the new season with two defeats, Hamburg turned to a wealthy businessman and club supporter who provided the cash required to bring Van der Vaart from Tottenham, estimated at €13 million. 

Van der Vaart will make his debut on Sunday at Eintracht Frankfurt, the promoted team that shares the lead with Bayern Munich. 

The Netherlands midfielder achieved somewhat of a cult status among Hamburg fans during his first three seasons in northern Germany from 2005 to 2008. 

He was the club's top scorer with 29 goals and in his first season Hamburg finished third. The second season was less successful with HSV sliding to seventh. But they bounced back to fourth before Van der Vaart departed for Real Madrid. 

Ever since then, the club often called "the Dinosaur" for its longevity in the Bundesliga has been on the way down, finishing worse every consecutive season, with the last two in 15th place. 

Hamburg chief executive Carl-Edgar Jarchow decided to act after two defeats in the new season and brought back Van der Vaart. 

"He has an incredible influence in Hamburg because of his earlier time here. Rafael van der Vaart can turn around the mood, he can lift the team with his mentality," Jarchow said. 

Hamburg have not lost in seven games against Frankfurt, with five wins and two draws. 

But Frankfurt have surprised with a fresh, attacking style that produced six goals in wins against Leverkusen and Hoffenheim. 

"We have a very good midfield and Van der Vaart won't find it easy against us," said young Frankfurt star Sebastian Rode. 

Bayern, the only team apart from Frankfurt that have two wins in two games, hosts Mainz on Saturday. 

It remains to be seen whether coach Jupp Heynckes will start the match with Javi Martinez, the most expensive signing in Bundesliga history. 

Martinez came off the bench late in the 6-1 win over Stuttgart. 

Bayern are seeking to break Borussia Dortmund's stranglehold on the title over the past two seasons. 

Dortmund started the season with a win and a draw, and will be home to Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday. 

The match will have a prominent fan, Chancellor Angela Merkel, as part of a nationwide drive for better integration of foreigners. 

All clubs will wear jerseys without usual sponsors' logos, but with a message supporting integration. 

Wolfsburg, thrashed 4-0 at home by Hannover before the break for World Cup qualifiers, kicks off the third round at Augsburg on Friday. 

Stuttgart, another team with a bad start, host promoted Fortuna Duesseldorf on Saturday. 

Also on Saturday, Borussia Moenchengladbach hosts Nuremburg, Hannover plays Werder Bremen, and Schalke travels to Greuther Fuerth. 

On Sunday, Freiburg hosts Hoffenheim. 

AP

News
people
News
John Rees-Evans is standing for Ukip in Cardiff South and Penarth
news
Arts and Entertainment
Bianca Miller and Katie Bulmer-Cooke are scrutinised by Lord Sugar's aide Nick Hewer on The Apprentice final
tvBut Bianca Miller has taken on board his comments over pricing
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
News
in picturesWounded and mangy husky puppy rescued from dump
Sport
David Silva, Andy Carroll, Arsene Wenger and Radamel Falcao
football
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'