WHow it is with the Hertha BSC team can be read quite reliably from Pal Dardai’s state of mind. On Sunday, the Hertha BSC coach was in a good mood and full of energy. That will also be necessary. Hertha sees, it can be said without exaggeration, the greatest challenge in recent club history. Six games are scheduled for the next twenty days, all of which are about nothing less than athletic survival.
Hertha is penultimate, four points behind a non-relegation place. However, the Berliners played three games less than the competition. The hoped-for catch-up starts this Monday in Mainz (6 p.m. in the FAZ live ticker for the Bundesliga and Sky), and it continues with games against Freiburg (Thursday) and Bielefeld (Sunday). “If we get four points from the three games, we’re on target,” says Dardai.
The game plan was tilted when the responsible health department sent the team to a fortnightly quarantine in mid-April. The reason for this was several corona cases at the Bundesliga club. All those affected have now recovered, but are not yet ready for action. Marvin Plattenhardt, Dodi Lukebakio and goalkeeper Rune Jarstein, who was seriously ill as a result of the infection, are not yet available, at least in Mainz. There are no new infections, said Dardai, who had also infected himself.
Hertha and the handicap
On Friday, the team was allowed to train together again on the pitch for the first time, and was welcomed by some fans who had brought encouraging posters and banners to get the football professionals in the mood for this crucial time. That’s the curious thing: Hertha will mainly meet opponents from their own table region in the upcoming games. After the start, it continues against Schalke, Cologne and Hoffenheim. Of all seven opponents, Freiburg is the only one with a single-digit position in the table.
Hertha has its own fate in its own hands. Even if with a handicap. This is something like the right punch line under a bad season. The Berliners are allowed to take part in the race to stay in class, but have to be the last to leave the starting block and still wear a lead vest. Dardai had already suspected on his return in January that it could be a tight spot in the end, also for him. It was reported that his contract will only be extended if he gets 24 points from 16 games.
He’s a long way from that at the moment. It’s only nine points for Dardai. The club again denied the existence of this clause on Sunday. It is more likely that, behind the scenes, Dardai will no longer want to continue to work in numbers, but rather agree on further cooperation in the event of a rescue. President Werner Gegenbauer had spoken out in favor of the coach’s whereabouts during the week.
However, all simulation games stand and fall when you stay in class. The workload that has to be managed is far above normal, and from a sports medicine point of view, Hertha is clearly at a disadvantage. While the other teams can compete in regular operation, the Berliners have to start with a continuous sprint without much relaxation. “The question is, what happens when you shoot? What happens in the thirty-meter sprints? ”Says Dardai.
“The players have pumped”
Hertha’s trainer alludes to possible muscle injuries after the forced break. During the quarantine, the players could only train individually, at home with equipment. That helped so as not to completely lose stamina, but it could not replace football-specific training. “I already felt that the players were pumping,” said Dardai after the first session in the open air.
How the play-free time actually affects is difficult to answer. There are no comparative values in the Bundesliga this season, Hertha was the first team that had to be closed in quarantine. In the second division, Kiel, Sandhausen and Karlsruhe were affected, all teams are in the process of making up for the missed games. The German Football League (DFL) fears a distorted game schedule and the resulting competition that is no longer the same.
In response to the events at Hertha BSC, the DFL is sending all 36 professional clubs into quarantine before the last two match days, the regular end of the season should not be endangered by anything. The memories from the past season are still too present. Dynamo Dresden had to play nine games in 27 days a year ago, the bottom of the table not only lacked the quality due to this program, but also the strength to catch up. Contrary to initial considerations, the club ultimately waived a lawsuit.
Hertha BSC does not yet want to think about legal means, but in the event of a sporting relegation they could become an issue. Moving into the second division would hit Berliners hard. In the past few months, investor Lars Windhorst had made a lot of money available, Hertha wanted to play for a place in the European Cup.
Dufner comes as a squad planner
That went wrong, but they are still convinced of a long-term positive development. For the coming season, Fredi Bobic is moving from Frankfurt to Berlin as the new sports director, Dirk Dufner is coming to support as a squad planner. Dufner had worked successfully at SC Freiburg for many years and then less successfully at Hannover 96. As is so often the case in Berlin, the future is more than just a vision on the horizon. Everything is well planned. If only it weren’t for the damned present.