2015-2016 Season Preview: Hertha Berlin

Full Club Name: Hertha BSC

Nickname: Die Alte Dame (the Old Lady)

Founded: July 25, 1892

Ground: Olympiastadion Berlin (built 1934-36; renovated for the 2006 World Cup)

Club colors: blue and white

Primary Rivals: none; sometimes 1. FC Union Berlin

Fan Friendship: Karlsruher FC

Trophies:

  • German League (2): 1930, 1931
  • 2. Bundesliga (3): 1990, 2011, 2013
  • Intertoto Cup (5): 1971, 1973, 1976, 1978, 2006

2014-15 Finishes:

  • Bundesliga: 15 (9:8:17, 35 points)
  • DFB Pokal: second round
  • Top Goal Scorer: Julian Schieber, 7

 

“60-second dossier”

Number of Matches won by 2 or more goals: 3

Number of Matches won by 1 goal: 6

Number of Matches drawn: 8

Number of Matches lost by 1 goal: 7

Number of Matches lost by 2 or more goals: 10

Number of matches in which a lead was blown, resulting in loss: 1

Number of matches in which a lead was blown, resulting in draw: 2

Number of matches in which a deficit was overcome to earn a draw: 0

Number of matches in which a deficit was overcome to earn victory: 0

 

2014-15 Season Summary

The big story for Hertha in the previous season was once again the fight to stay in the top flight and coaching changes.

Hertha started off shaky, with the home opener resulting in a draw, followed by two losses and another draw before the first win against Wolfsburg at home on matchday five. The season continued with more losses than wins, yet somehow they went into the break in 13th place. Shortly after the start of the second leg, after three losses in a row and a trip to 17th place, coach Jos Luhukay was fired. Club legend Pál Dárdai was called up from coaching the Hertha youth squads to take his place.

Dárdai had somewhat better results than Luhukay, dragging the Berliners out of the direct relegation spots briefly with a win on matchday 20 against Mainz, but they dropped back down with two more losses. After that, the club went undefeated matchdays 23 through 29, with 3 wins and 4 draws. They peaked at 11th place on matchday 27.

The newfound confidence and Teamgeist was still no match for Bayern, Gladbach, and Dortmund, whom they faced in the waning days of the season. They managed a draw against Eintracht Frankfurt, then lost in the final match against Hoffenheim, finishing in a woeful 15th place.

Hertha’s defense has always been a trouble spot, but with the move of 2013/14’s top scorer Adrian Ramos to Dortmund, Hertha had trouble finding a player who could put the ball into the net. The transfers in for this season–Nils Körber (a 4th goalkeeper, from the Hertha youth), Vladimir Darida (midfield, from Freiburg), and Mitchell Weiser (right midfield, from Bayern), plus Sami Allagui returning from his loan to Mainz–don’t include any strikers.

Leaving Hertha are Fabian Holland (SV Darmstadt), Marcel Ndjeng (SC Paderborn), John Heitinga (end of loan, Ajax), Sascha Burchert (on loan until December, Valerenga), ex-captain Peter Niemeyer (SV Darmstadt), and Sandro Wagner (SV Darmstadt).

2014-15 Trivia

Only goal differential saved Hertha from the relegation playoff. Their tally was 36:52 (-16), and Hamburg, also at 35 points, had 25:50 (-25). They had the 4th worst offense (tied with Freiburg) and 7th worst defense.

Money Matters

Hertha is a club with a small budget. The market value of their 28-person squad is 63.7 million euros, as of August 7, 2015, according to transfermarkt.de.

Transfers out: €350,000

Transfers in: €3.8 million

Net: €-3.45 million

 

The Boss

Dárdai received an indefinite contract to stay on as head coach, but he had to step down from the Hungarian national side. It remains to be seen whether the successes he had in the previous season can be repeated. Club manager Michael Preetz has faith in Dárdai, who has been with Hertha since 1997 and is the most capped player in club history (297).

Dárdai’s familiarity with the youth teams could mean that he will look for home-grown talent to bring to the Bundesliga. There are only four players from Hertha’s youth teams currently in the team (John Anthony Brooks, Nico Schulz, Marius Gersbeck, and, indirectly, Änis Ben-Hatira). Sascha Burchert, currently on loan, was also a Hertha youth player.

Odds to win league:

Oddschecker.com: 750-1000:1

BSports Football’s analysis puts Hertha in 13th place at the end of the season.

Five-Year Record:

2014/15: 15

2013/14: 11

2012/13: 1 (second league)

2011/12: 16 (lost relegation playoff)

2010/11: 1 (second league)

 

Questions with a Club Fan:

Thanks go to Patrick Dupuis (@pdupuis), who answered these questions for me last year, too.

  • “Keep an eye out for . . . Mitchell Weiser. He’s a young player on the rise, from a successful club. Of course he got injured in summer training.
  • “Terrace favorite . . . Cult hero Ronny looks to be leaving, so possibly Kalou.
  • “Player you’d happily drive to another club . . . same answer as last year: Sandro Wagner. (Note: since this chat, Wagner transferred to Darmstadt.)
  • “Advice you’d give your manager . . . Please, please, please fix the defense!
  • “Opposition player you secretly admire . . . André Schürrle (Wolfsburg)
  • “Opposition player you despise. . .  Arjen Robben
  • “Tip you’d give away fans . . . Enjoy Berlin, don’t be jerks, and remember: it’s just a game. That said, I think the atmosphere is overall pretty good, and I’ve never seen away fans get hassled.
  • “Where will you finish . . . No risk of relegation, but call it aggressively average: 10th-12th place.

 

Crucial Fixtures Stretch:

Once again, Hertha has the bad luck to face three traditionally strong opponents in the waning days of the season: matchdays 30-32 see them up against Hoffenheim, Bayern, and Leverkusen. The odds of winning all three are low, so they’ll have to perform well up until then. The two previous games could be challenging as well, when they play Gladbach and Hannover.

Verdict

All Herthaner eyes will be on Pál Dárdai as he attempts to keep the team in the top flight again. Assuming he can take this largely unchanged squad and turn them around, I think Hertha will finish in the middle of the table, between 11th and 13th places.

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Conni is a writer, football fan, and beer nerd. Her latest short story "Something There Is" is available in the anthology Substitution Cipher. You can follow her on twitter at @strafraum (football) or @exaggerated (writing and general life).

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