Our Opponents Check: Hertha BSC

Club, season, coach, team and top scorer - in the big opponent check you can find out all the details about the upcoming relegation Play Off opponents of the Rothosen. 

In this year's relegation to the Bundesliga, Hamburger SV and Hertha BSC will meet two teams with a long tradition. analyses how the season went for the Berliners, what Hertha's style of play is and which heads will matter in a detailed opponent check.   

The Club: Hertha, Berliner Sport-Club e. V., known as Hertha BSC for short, was founded on 25 July 1892 and is one of the biggest traditional clubs in German football. Therefore, the club is also known as the "Old Lady". Consequently, Hertha BSC was one of the 16 founding members of the Bundesliga in 1963. However, the Berliners were not always first-class. As early as their second Bundesliga season, the Blue and Whites, who were in 14th place, were forced to accept relegation because they had lured some players with handouts, which at the time violated the DFB's statutes. Five more relegations to the second division followed in the club's history, the last one in 2012. In the past 25 years, however, the "Alte Dame" belonged to Germany's highest division 23 times, achieving its best placing in the 1998/99 season under coach Jürgen Röber as third in the table and also entering the international business several times in the early 00s. The longing for these successful times is great in Berlin and has also determined the club's aspirations over the past three years. Lars Windhorst, who joined Hertha's outsourced professional department in the summer of 2019 and has since invested around 375 million euros in an effort to turn Hertha into a "big city club", is partly responsible for this. 

The Season: In the present Hertha BSC is lagging behind the formulated claims. After finishing 10th and 14th in the two previous seasons, Fredi Bobic took over as the new sporting director for the recently concluded 2021/22 Bundesliga season. The 50-year-old, who had already played for the club from 2003 to 2005, made 19 transfers this season, both on the books and on the books of the club, generated a considerable transfer surplus, and at the same time made major changes to the squad. There was also a lot of movement in the coaching position. In the final spurt of the season, Bobic installed Felix Magath, the third coach for this season after Pal Dardai and Tayfun Korkut. Magath took over Hertha BSC after the 29th matchday, when the club had slipped to 17th place in the table. After two wins at the start - 1:0 in Augsburg and 2:0 against Stuttgart - the capital city team pulled away from the direct relegation zone, but then missed three match points with a 1-1 draw in Bielefeld and a 2-1 defeat against Mainz and Dortmund to secure direct salvation on their own. Doubly bitter: Their main rivals, VfB Stuttgart, drew 2-2 with record champions FC Bayern München on the penultimate matchday and, on the last day of the season, they overcame 1. FC Köln 2-1 with an Endo goal (90th +2), literally passing Hertha BSC in the last second. 

The Coach: Felix Magath is without doubt one of the most enigmatic personalities in German football history. Player, coach, manager, board member - the native of Aschaffenburg has left his mark in many different functions and at numerous stations. And he has done so very successfully: as a player he was European champion (1980) and runner-up in the World Cup (1982 and 1986). Magath also won the German championship in 1979, 1982 and 1983, the European Cup Winners' Cup in 1977 and the European Champions' Cup in 1983. With whom? Of course, his favourite club - Hamburger SV. A very special duel awaits the legend Magath, which he conjured up like a fortune teller immediately after taking up his post at Hertha. Some stories are only written by football. Hardly anyone knows that as well as the 306-time Bundesliga player, who also sat on the bench as a coach in an incredible 502 Bundesliga games for eight different clubs (HSV, Werder Bremen, Eintracht Frankfurt, VfB Stuttgart, FC Bayern Munich, VfL Wolfsburg, FC Schalke 04 and Hertha BSC) and became German champion three times (2005, 2006 with Bayern Munich and 2009 with VfL Wolfsburg) and DFB Pokal winner twice (2005 and 2006 with Bayern Munich). 

"HSV, there is absolutely no question about it, is the greatest period of my footballing life," he told the "Kicker". "But it is still not about me or my past with HSV. It's solely about Hertha BSC - about staying in the league." With this attitude and his unmistakable manner, Magath has taken the reins at the "Old Lady" and rebuilt the team, especially in terms of fighting spirit. In order to sharpen the focus as much as possible before the relegation, Magath has now scheduled a training camp for the second time in his still short tenure at Hertha BSC. The 16th-placed team in the Bundesliga will prepare for the first match at their home Olympic Stadium on Thursday at the Olympic Training Centre in Kienbaum, east of Berlin, starting on Tuesday.    

The Team: True to his reputation, Felix Magath has literally given the Blue and Whites a run for their money. With an average age of 25.9 years, the fifth-oldest team of the past Bundesliga season finished in the top five of the teams with the most runs four times in the last five league games under his leadership. On average, the Berliners ran 117.24 kilometres per game. In Magath's defensive 4-2-3-1 system, the Berliners also showed a clear improvement in the number of sprints and duels fought and won. The 68-year-old gave a special role to midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng (147 Bundesliga games, 16 goals/19 assists) and centre-forward Davie Selke (189, 34/19). Consequently, Hertha BSC mainly fights football and has distinguished itself less by an offensive game culture in the past Bundesliga season. With 43.8 per cent possession (16th), 37 goals (16th), 12,001 passes (14th) and 34 chances (14th), the Berliners are in the bottom third of the offensive statistics. In terms of shots on goal (358), only relegated Greuther Fürth (313) sought their luck less often. The Blue and Whites are also not solid defensively, conceding 71 goals (17th place). They conceded 17 goals, a negative figure in the league, with a header. 

The Top scorer: With only eight scorer points, resulting from five goals and three assists, Hertha centre-forward Ishak Belfodil leads the team's internal top scorer list. A haul that speaks volumes as a team, but should in no way diminish the individual quality of the Algerian international (19 caps, two goals). On the contrary: the tall and brawny centre-forward, who stands at 1.92 metres, moved to the Spree from TSG 1899 Hoffenheim in the late summer of 2021 and can boast those 23 per cent of goal contributions in just 57 per cent of possible minutes played - a strong figure! "For me, he is one of the most underrated players ever. He is very fast, works strongly with his body and is technically strong. It just doesn't look that way with him," praised Bayern coach Julian Nagelsmann, who coached Belfodil in Hoffenheim, before the duel with Hertha. In total, the 30-year-old can draw on the experience of 99 Bundesliga games (for Bremen, Hoffenheim and Berlin), in which he marked 25 goals and ten assists. In addition to Belfodil, the Rothosen must also keep top scorer Stevan Jovetic (six goals) and top assist providers Vladimir Darida and Maximilian Mittelstädt (five assists each) in mind.