Season preview: Hamburger SV

Season preview: Hamburger SV
© PA Photos
Sports Mole takes a look at Thorsten Fink's chances of guiding Hamburger SV back into European competitions.

With the Bundesliga season beginning this weekend, Sports Mole has cast its eye over Hamburger SV's summer and their prospects for the 2013-14 campaign.

Lasse Sobiech (Borussia Dortmund), Johan Djourou (Arsenal), Jacques Zoua (FC Basel), Kerem Demirbay (Borussia Dortmund II)

Heung Min Son (Bayer 04 Leverkusen), Jeffrey Bruma (Chelsea, returned loan)

Last Season: Seventh

Manager: Thorsten Fink

Three key players:

Hamburg keeper Rene Adler in action on March 30, 2013© AP Photos
Rene Adler - He may wear the number 15 shirt, but the 28-year-old is very much Hamburg's number one between the posts. Adler produced some of his best form last season, particularly at the Imtech Arena where the Blues shipped just 18 goals. On the road Hamburg were particularly leaky, but it would be fair to conclude that without the presence of their German international keeper, it would have been much higher than the eventual 35.

Rafael Van der Vaart, Joao Pereira© PA Photos
Rafael van der Vaart - When it was announced last summer that Van der Vaart was to return to Hamburg following spells with Real Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur, the excitement levels around the club went through the roof. The 30-year-old was viewed as the player to fire the Dinosaurs into Champions League football, but for whatever reason, it failed to happen. Some say that the Dutch international lacked dynamism, despite his five goals. The next few months will provide Van der Vaart with the chance to silence his critics.

Hamburg's Artjoms Rudnevs in action against Borussia Dortmund on September 22, 2012© AP Photos
Artjoms Rudnevs - There won't be many strikers in the Bundesliga with as much expectation on their shoulders as the 25-year-old Latvian. He scored 12 times last season - the same contribution as Son Heung-Min managed. However, the South Korean international has moved on to Bayer Leverkusen, with only youngster Jacques Zoua signed to replace him. It means that Rudnevs is going to need to get nearer the 20-goal mark if Hamburg are to be successful in their attempt to end the campaign in a European slot.

First game: Schalke 04 (A), Complete fixture list

Sports Mole says: The pressure is on Fink this season, that's for sure. He has failed to deliver European football since his appointment in 2011 and with his contract due to expire next summer, it could be make or break for the former Bayern Munich midfielder. If he goes with the squad he currently has, it's going to be tough. Son has not been replaced to an adequate standard and on paper at least, there doesn't appear to be many goals in the team. Improving their home form would help, having won eight from 17 matches last season, scoring just 18 times in the process.

Predicted finish: Eighth

Rafa Van Der Vaart celebrates a goal against Romania on March 26, 2013
Read Next:
Fink: 'Van der Vaart still among Bundesliga's best'
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