Nuremberg 2-0 Hertha Berlin

Nuremberg defeated Hertha Berlin to ruin Michael Skibbe’s first game in charge of the capital city club. Alexander Esswein and Dominic Maroh were the match-winners for the struggling Franconian side in a game low on quality and chances: a situation caused primarily by the Frankenstadion’s terrible pitch. With his side not only losing, but also failing to impress with their new negative tactics and showing little in the way of creativity or goal threat, this really was a poor start to life for Skibbe at Hertha. Dieter Hecking’s team, who played the better football, leapfrog the capital city side as a result of this win, leaving Hertha just four points clear of the drop-zone (with Kaiserslautern and Mainz, two of the sides below them, still to play this weekend).

Match preview here.

Starting formations

Nuremberg (4-2-3-1, from right to left): Raphael Schäfer; Jens Hegeler, Maroh, Philipp Wollscheid, Adam Hloušek; Almog Cohen, Timmy Simons;  Daniel Didavi, Christian Eigler, Esswein; Tomáš Pekhart

Hertha Berlin (4-2-3-1, from right to left): Thomas Kraft; Christian Lell, Roman Hubník, Christoph Janker, Levan Kobiashvili; Andreas Ottl, Peter Niemeyer; Patrick Ebert, Adrián Ramos, Ronny; Pierre-Michel Lasogga Continue reading

Hannover-Hertha BSC preview

The final match of the Bundesliga’s third round of fixtures sees last season’s 2. Bundesliga champions travel to in-form Hannover. The last time these sides met,a top-flight clash in January 2010, Hertha Berlin came away from the AWD-Arena with a 3-0 victory. Given their patchy start to the new season, a repeat of that scoreline looks highly unlikely. However, you wouldn’t rule out Markus Babbel’s men taking all three points, as Hannover put in a heroic and draining shift on Thursday night to defeat Sevilla in the Europa League.

Mirko Slomka’s side were outstanding against their more illustrious Spanish opponents. Jan Schlaudraff, in particular, was unplayable; his energy, intelligence and determination was just too much for the Sevilla defence too handle. Left-winger Konstantin Rausch was equally imperious, although every man in maroon did his job that night against a technically more accomplished side with world class players such as Jesús Navas. Slomka might make changes from the team that defeated Sevilla for the game against Hertha today, however, although the coach insists that he has the squad to handle fighting on two fronts. “The lads will be able to cope with the double burden – this is why we expanded our squad during the summer,” said Slomka, adding: “This game means a lot to us as it enables us to build on our points tally.” Continue reading

Hertha BSC-Nuremberg preview

The final game scheduled for Saturday’s batch of Bundesliga 2011/12 opening round fixtures sees newly-promoted Hertha BSC take on a side who just missed out on Europa League qualification last season. Nuremberg, however, have lost a few key players after their 2010/11 heroics, which halted two consecutive seasons that concluded with relegation play-off fixtures. Chief among those who coach Dieter Hecking can no longer count upon is İlkay Gündoğan, the young midfielder rewarded for his own fine season by Borussia Dortmund bringing him in.

But the young German midfielder isn’t the only key player to have left the Bavarian side, with Mehmet Ekici going back to Bayern – then Bremen – after a loan spell, Julian Schieber returning to Stuttgart after an impressive campaign leading the line in Hecking’s well-drilled 4-1-4-1, and Andreas Wolf moving to Werder Bremen to help shore up Thomas Schaaf’s defence. Continue reading

Arminia Bielefeld 1-3 Hertha BSC

The first-half formations.

Hertha Berlin comfortably beat Arminia Bieleffeld to notch up their 13th win of what so far has been a very professionally conducted 2. Bundesliga campaign. The home side created a nervy last few minutes for their guests when Josip Tadić scored in the 85th minute after their first incisive through-ball of the match ( courtesy of Christian Müller). But the away side fully deserved the win, and now go into next week’s derby against Union statistically on top of the league, and metaphorically on top of the world.

In February 2009, Hertha had the chance to top the Bundesliga if they won away at bottom-placed Arminia. But the visitors were held to a draw by the plucky hosts, and their title challenge disintegrated not long after. In a form of déjà vu, the sides met again nearly two years to the day, placed at polar opposite ends of the table – Ewald Lienen’s side cut adrift, bottom of the table with a mere eight points, and Markus Babbel’s Hertha top of the table. The only difference being this time, the teams are competing in the second tier of German football.

Hertha took control of proceedings immediately in this game by pressing the ball higher up the pitch, and taking the sting out of early Arminia energy by patiently giving everyone a touch of the ball, and keeping the home side at bay. Going forward, Babbel’s side – playing with a midfield diamond – had the hustle and bustle of the Colombian Andy Carroll, Adrián Ramos, the left-wing-veering playmaker Raffael, and interchanging wide-midfielders and full-backs. Continue reading