American international John Brooks was onto something when he spoke to the media this week. There is something big going on in the German capital, something that should worry the rest of the Bundesliga.
On Friday, the boys from Berlin put a beating on a tired and injury riddled Borussia Mönchengladbach side by a score of 3-0. Grabbing all the headlines and the goals in the game was veteran Salomon Kalou.
Kalou scored a hat-trick in his 3rd league appearance of the season. The former Chelsea man has battled back problems and the death of his father, but seems to be ready to be a difference maker once again for Pal Dardai’s overachievers. Kalou’s whoscored.com game rating was 9.02, only behind Mitchell Weiser’s 9.12 of all players in Friday’s fixture, as the Ivorian’s three goals came on only three shots, while he passed at an 80% success rate.
Even without any meaningful contributions from the Ivorian international thus far, Hertha find themselves near the top of the table again.Despite, their yo-yo nature the past decade or so, it is a similar pot to where the team found itself last season before fading down the stretch.
Now they have added their leading scorer from 2015/16 back into the fold.
Kalou will, of course, add goals. 14 league goals last season and 23 total goals in a little north of 60 Bundesliga appearances are already to his name and more figure to come. However, more significant than his numbers, is the flexibility that he gives BSC in attack.
Coming into the matchup against Gladbach, or as they are known in Scotland ‘A German Team’, Berlin had scored 14 goals in nine league games. With six goals and three assists to his name, all but five of these were directly linked to newly named captain Vedad Ibišević.
In the game against the Foals, Hertha netted 3 times without the help of Ibišević, at least as far as the score sheet was concerned. This despite the prediction from commentator Eric Wynalda that his man-crush Ibišević would definitely finish the game with a goal.
What Kalou provides is another option and another target for the attacking support, like Mitchell Weiser who assisted him twice Friday. Ibišević was the key man for opponents to take out in each of Berlin’s losses this season, both shutouts. With Kalou alongside, or slightly behind the Bosnian international as he was in the formation against Gladbach, Berlin has a much more dangerous attack.
Still, goals are just a fraction of what Salomon Kalou brings to the table. He comes with years of experience and a great track record in big games. Kalou won every trophy that could be won while at Chelsea and has been busting the net in Europe since his debut in the Eredivisie in 2004.
The 31-year old brings that calmness and confidence that only a player that has seen it all can bring to a side. In a starting eleven that, even with Kalou in it, featured four players 23-years-of age or younger, experience and calmness are things that are needed.
With that age has come wisdom, just look at his first goal on Friday. Not only was it a great run into space, but he knew exactly what to do with the ball when Weiser’s cross reached him. He headed it back across the face of goal, wrong footing the keeper on the score.
He has been around a while, but it hasn’t slowed him down a bit. His second goal shows he is still as alert and spry as ever. When the clearance attempt ricocheted off of gargantuan defender Jannik Vestergaard, it was the old man Kalou who reacted the loose ball first and put it in the back of the net.
He exhibits the controlled tenacity that Dardai has tried to instill in his side and provides an additional leader on the field to the aforementioned captain, Ibišević.
So far this season Hertha Berlin have been successful because of a strong spine, stemming from a solid defense and the contributions of Ibišević up front. A consistently healthy Kalou brings that extra ingredient that takes Die Alte Dame from a decent team that could play in the Europa League again next season, to a front-runner for a Champion’s League spot.
If Kalou continues to produce, as he has in the Eredivisie, the EPL and Ligue 1 before coming to BSC, they may even make a certain juggernaut in Bavaria take notice. Through 10 games, Berlin are only four points away from first place in the Bundesliga.
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