Hertha BSC Berlin have stagnated for a couple years but with a new coach, new players and a new investor providing funds they look to challenge for the international spots once again. With a team full of young promising players this might actually be possible this season.
Bundesliga: 11th place - 43 points
DFB Cup: Round of 16 – 2:3 loss to Bayern Munich in extra time
Hertha started out strong last season with only one loss in their first nine games and an impressive 2:0 victory to their name. The Old lady kept themselves in contention for a Europa League spot throughout the first half of the season which was their goal to start the season.
However, things changed in the Rückrunde. The team seemed mostly lackluster and a streak of seven games without a victory destroyed any hopes of a top 6 spot. Hertha ended up finishing in 11th place, a bit disappointing for the club.
- Dodi Lukebakio (RW) – FC Watford – 20€ million
- Eduard Löwen (CM) – 1.FC Nürnberg – 7€ million
- Daishan Redan (ST) – Chelsea – 2.7€ million
- Marko Grujic (CM) – Liverpool – Loan (2€ million)
- Dedryck Boyata (CB) – Celtic – Free transfer
- Valentino Lazaro (RB) – Inter – 22€ million
- Fabian Lustenberger (CB) – Young Boys Bern – Free transfer
- Julius Kade (CAM) – Union Berlin – Free transfer
- Jonathan Klinsmann (GK) – FC St. Gallen – Free transfer
- Marius Gersbeck (GK) – Karlsruher SC – 45k
Special mention: Ante Covic replaces Pal Dardai as coach
The biggest change for Hertha is surely at the coaching position where Ante Covic has replaced Pal Dardai after four and a half years at the helm of the club. Dardai took over in 2015 in a difficult spot and did a good job developing Hertha into a solid Bundesliga team but the team stagnated the past two seasons so a change was needed.
It remains to be seen if Covic is the right choice though. The Croatian coach has never coached at this level and was a youth and assistant coach before. Nevertheless, Covic knows the club seeing as he’s been with Berlin since 2010. There should be no problem transitioning from Dardai to Covic as both prefer to play a 4-2-3-1 system although Covic wants the team to play a bit more aggressive as they used to do.
Apart from Dardai the biggest loss is definitely Valentino Lazaro. The Austrian wingback was arguably Berlin’s best player last season and he will be tough to replace. In fact, Hertha have so far not made any transfer at the position and will rely on Lukas Klünter to take over.
Despite the loss of Lazaro, Michael Preetz was able to strengthen the team overall. Lukebakio is a great pickup who should improve Hertha’s offense. The returning Grujic and Löwen are smart additions to the midfield and Redan is a young talent with a lot of upside. Retaining Niklas Stark was also important for the club and will once again give them a strong defensive core with Rekik.
What to expect in 2019/20
Hertha BSC Berlin are truly a wildcard for the upcoming season.
On paper they have a young and very talented squad with intriguing players at almost every position. Especially their offense with Lukebakio, Dilrosun, Duda and Selke should be fun to watch. In addition, they still have Stark and Rekik on defense and the extremely talented Arne Maier as a defensive midfielder.
If everything goes according to plan and some of the young players take the next step in their development, then this team could conceivably compete for a spot in the top 6 but there are a few areas where it might go wrong.
First of all, we don’t know anything about Ante Covic’s capabilities as a coach. He’s never done it at this level before and having a young coach in addition to a very young squad that’s already lacking experience could be a recipe for disaster.
Prediction: Challenge for top 6
This really could go either way but the talent is there to compete for a spot in the top 6. Bayern, BVB, Leipzig and Leverkusen will likely finish above them but there is no reason for Hertha not to be able to compete with Gladbach, Frankfurt, Bremen and Wolfsburg.
In the end Berlin will rely on their young guns living up to their potential, if they do the sky is the limit, if they don’t then another finish in the middle of the table is inevitable.