Hertha ended their impressive Hinrunde with a 2-0 win over Mainz to cement their place in the top three as the Bundesliga enters the Winterpause. Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund as the top two comes as no surprise, but who would have predicted that the ‘Old Lady’ would be enjoying life in a Champions League berth going into Christmas?
The capital club enjoyed a fairly straightforward victory over a Mainz side that hardly showed the impressive form which has seen Martin Schmidt’s team approaching the Europa League places.
Hertha enjoyed the lions’ share of possession in the first half. At one point they were hitting a possession statistic in the high 70% level (Bayern Munich-esque). For all their control of the ball however, it took until the 34th minute for them to be rewarded. Vladimir Darida, so impressive in the first half of the season, burst onto a through ball from Vedad Ibisevic before firing low into the net.
It was a deserved lead and the Olympiastadion hosts carried on in the second half when Salomon Kalou doubled their lead. Ibisevic once more was the architect with a pass which allowed the Ivorian to advance and fire past Loris Karius.
The win sees Hertha a full five points ahead of Bayer Leverkusen in fourth, and six points behind second placed Borussia Dortmund. Trainer Pal Dardai enjoyed his first match in control against Mainz and today showed with another win against the Null-Fünfer just how far he has brought die Alte Dame.
Ibisevic the key
He may not have got on the scoresheet to add to the six goals he has already hit this season but the Bosnian frontman was the key upfront today. He provided both assists and was unlucky to see a second half effort ruled out (by a whisker) for offside. His stand-out season with Hoffenheim in 2008/09 was his high point, but he is certainly showing this season (and today was yet another example) his ability and showing VfB Stuttgart that they were perhaps wrong to let him go.
Missing Malli, müde Muto
Impressive as Hertha were, Mainz really didn’t show up and were clearly second best. Key players Yunus Malli (eight goals) and Yoshinori Muto (seven goals so far) were off their games and showed signs that they are more than ready for the winter break. It had been rumoured that coach Martin Schmidt had been considering resting the Japanese forward. On today’s performance, he right to be thinking that as he looked tired (müde).
Happy Christmas at Hertha
Last season saw the Old Lady win just nine games all season, but today’s victory notched up the club’s tenth win this season alone. The reasons for the upturn in form have been explained here at the Fanatic, but one thing is clear, the Berlin faithful will be enjoying their winter break and looking forward to 2016 with great optimism with Pal Dardai seemingly leading the club the bigger and better things.
Hertha Berlin: Jarstein- Weiser, Langkamp, Brooks, Plattenhardt, Lustenberger (Hegeler 77’)- Skjelbred- Darida (Baumjohann 83’),Haraguchi, Kalou (Stocker 87’)- Ibisevic
Mainz: Karius- Brosinski, Bungert, Bell, Bengtsson- Baumgartlinger, Latza (Cordoba 65’)- Clemens (De Blasis 46’), Malli, Jairo- Muto (Niederlechner 65’)
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