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Tuesday, January 31, 2023

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The conclusions from the debacle against Wolfsburg: Hertha BSC lacks resilience

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Shortly before the end of the day, the Hertha BSC players showed at least one excellent feeling for the situation. They recognized the danger that threatened them. And they instinctively made the right decision to avoid this danger.

When going into the curve, the field players let their goalkeeper go first. So Oliver Christensen led the way, the rest followed at a reasonable distance. Angry silence greeted Hertha’s team, but also a few “Oli-ver Chris-ten-sen!” shouts. It could have been worse.

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That it could have been worse could not be said of the 90 minutes beforehand. “The first half was the worst we’ve seen this season,” said Fredi Bobic, the sporting director of the Berlin Bundesliga club. “That was underground.”

In the end it was 5-0 against VfL Wolfsburg, who had underpinned their reputation of being the team in the league with the best form at the moment with a light-footed performance against the sluggish Berliners.

image of horror. The 0:5 against Wolfsburg was Hertha’s highest defeat of the season.
© imago/Nordphoto / IMAGO/Juergen Engler
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The exact opposite applies to Hertha at the moment. “That’s a slap in the face, but right,” said coach Sandro Schwarz. “We got off to a crappy start.” His team has played two games this year. The record is horrible with zero points and 1:8 goals. The only positive thing is that Hertha made up a goal on Schalke, who are already at the bottom of the table, but only with a lot of good will.

A week ago it was different: the mood at Hertha and around Hertha fluctuated between confidence and euphoria. As has now been shown, it was based on a dangerous misjudgment of reality.

That’s a slap in the face, but right.

Sandro Schwarz, Coach of Hertha BSC

With 14 points, Hertha ended the first half of the season in the penultimate place in the table. That’s not good, said coach Schwarz. Which was put in a friendly way.

The club was last worse off at the same time in 2009. At that time, the team was hopelessly beaten with only six points halfway through the season. But even last year, when Hertha only secured relegation in the relegation, the situation in winter was not nearly as dramatic. The team had seven points more then.


Hertha had more points a year ago after the first half of the season

Aside from the score, there are astonishing parallels. A year ago, Hertha said goodbye to the winter break with a win (3-2 against Dortmund) and a good feeling. The first game was also lost a year ago (1:3 against Cologne). The duel against VfL Wolfsburg followed a year ago and then, albeit in the cup, the derby against Union.

Something went wrong in that game. That could be the case again on Saturday if they lose to their local rivals from the south-east of the city. With regard to the derby, the reaction of the fans to the embarrassment against Wolfsburg was still moderate. There were a few whistles in the meantime, but there was also encouragement in the second half, when the team at least developed passion despite the hopeless score.

The problem is the quality of the squad

“You see that people are right there when you go into the duels. We need that,” said Schwarz. After the changes at the top of the club last summer, the public has been surprisingly forgiving so far. The mood doesn’t quite match the situation; just as the point yield supposedly does not match the performance.

It’s an attitude that may be part of the problem. Schwarz and Bobic vehemently disagreed that Hertha underestimated the situation, but they continue to point to the good B grade, which unfortunately is not included in the rating in football.

The team has already shown that they can do it. But even with good performances, she only scored in isolated cases. Hertha has won three of 18 competitive games under Black. Nevertheless, the coach is – rightly so – not questioned within the club. “He’s not even remotely available,” said Bobic. “The trust is huge.”

Niederlechner is fit again

The problem isn’t the coach, it’s the quality of the squad Black has to deal with. Too many players dematerialize when things get tricky. There is still no stable hierarchy in the team of the nameless. The only leader is and remains Kevin-Prince Boateng, who will soon be 36, but he does not help on the pitch, but can only act as an animator from the bench or during the break.

It is significant that the fans are now pinning their hopes on Florian Niederlechner, the only signing this winter. The striker is 32 and comes from FC Augsburg. On Wednesday he was on the training ground with the team for the first time after being out with a muscular problem. He could at least be in the squad for Saturday’s derby.

Niederlechner should bring the mentality that the team too often lacks. The team is unable to take care of things on their own. That was shown both in Bochum and against Wolfsburg. It only got better after the coach intervened during the break. “We were already further, how we deal with individual resistance in the game,” said Schwarz. “We lost access and then lost our heads.”

The game against Wolfsburg was the fifth this season in which Hertha was three goals behind. With the other four, the team was at least able to make the score a little friendlier; against Wolfsburg, however, there was a real smack for the first time. And that just before the derby.

“I know what’s going to happen in the next three days: ‘Oh God, it’s the city derby now. What happens if that is lost?’” said coach Schwarz. His players should therefore not even bother with such scenarios. “You must not feel sorry for yourself, you must fight against it. In the game there is always the opportunity to get a good feeling in many small areas. That’s the order for Saturday and the other games.”

Source: Tagesspiegel

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