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Capital Conundrum: Can Hertha Berlin Survive in the Top Flight?

Hertha Berlin will return to the top flight after just one season in the lower league wilderness but it is likely a long battle against relegation awaits them.

Their last top flight campaign ended not just in relegation but humiliation – an embarrassingly poor hinrunde effectively condemned them by Christmas and after winning at home on the opening day, they failed to triumph again in front of their own fans in the whole campaign.

Last season was a relatively straightforward march to promotion but there is a world of difference between the two top German leagues.

While the gap between the first and 18th club in the country is bridgeable on any given Saturday, the difference in resources to those in spots 19, 20 and 21, challenging for promotion to the top flight, and those in positions 34, 35 and 36, trying to survive in the second level, is massive.

And even with this considerable advantage, Hertha slipped up on a number of occasions in the Second Division against clubs they should have been beating comfortably.

The previous first choice goalkeeper Aerts and his defence, while often secure, were prone to bad lapses in concentration and this is something which will be severely punished in the months ahead.

While Thomas Kraft, recruited from Bayern Munich, is a better ‘keeper, there are big question marks over the back four.  Hubnik may have impressed last season but Mijatovic and Kobiashvili will not look nearly so solid at the higher level.

Maik Franz will at least provide a considerable physical force but relying on his brutish presence is an acknowledgement by the manager of the struggle which lies ahead.

The midfield focal point is Raffael but while he was frequently brilliant in the Second Division, he was just as frequently posted missing in the First Division the year before.  Whether or not he has matured into a more reliable performer could be the key question which decides Hertha’s fate.

The forward line will rely almost exclusively on Adrian Ramos for goals although the capture of Tunay Torun could prove to be an inspired piece of business.  The young talent could not crack the first team at HSV but certainly has potential.

However, he, like all the other newcomers, has made a move which is either downward or sideways at best to come Hertha – not one signing has been made of a player whose career is clearly on an upward trajectory.

That can work one of two ways as a team nursing resentment at their previous failures and rejections elsewhere may well be determined to prove the critics wrong and flourish in the top flight.  But confidence will also be fragile – unless a strong start is made, old demons may well return haunt the Olympiastadion once more.

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  1. Eskender

    July 19, 2011 at 7:10 am

    Despite they are yet to make an impressive signing except Kraft, I’m going to bet that they can avoid relegation. We have to take into account that they have players experienced to the Bundesliga, the likes of Ramos, Rafael and Kobihasvilli. Apart from that, they are having the best spell last season and the team motivated considerably this term.

  2. boRp

    July 11, 2011 at 9:59 am

    Having been to the stadium all last season, I do have a remark or two:

    1) Aerts himself does not have the abilities a first division keeper needs. BUT he managed to keep his defenders on their toes, stabilizing the performances of the slow mijatovic and kobiashvili. Let’s see, whether Kraft, the new #1, has the same gift of leading. Burchert for sure hasn’t.

    2) Raffael did not show what he’s being paid for this last season. Even worse, he came off as a slightly arrogant “king of the 2nd division” – always looking for dribbling even in the most hopeless situations. Having some real competition will – hopefully – help his game.

    3) After having barely survived defensively during the 2nd half of the past season, the trades this summer show how the management tackles problems after their rise. This season, it’ll be all eyes on the offense. Lasogga wouldn’t be the first 2nd-division-scorer not living up to the highest leagues. Still, he, Rob Friend, Ramos, Rukavitsya, and Torun should be good for a combined 20 goals, if the midfield proves able to provide them with the right passes.

    Rarely have I been looking forward to a season like this year. Although… I remember me saying this often in various years…

  3. bez canta

    July 4, 2011 at 4:04 am

    Tickets available now very beautiful. Combined ticket prices, but get a little expensive, but still going:)

  4. keith milne

    July 2, 2011 at 10:55 am

    I agree about the defence and yes they dropped some daft points last season but Ramos on his own upfront? What about Lasogga?
    Overall, yeah. It will be hard work but looking forward to it. Thanks for the article.

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