Hertha must move down
Felix Magath threatens to fight HSV’s past
By Sebastian Schneider, Dortmund
15/05/2022 at 10:33
After the drama at the last minute, Hertha BSC is now on relegation. Coach Felix Magath still believes he has a good chance – even if the experienced coach can stand in a difficult duel.
Visibly helpless, Kevin-Prince Boateng ran towards his teammates after the final whistle. With a questioning look, he turned first to Santiago Ascacibar, then to substitute goalkeeper Oliver Christensen. Apparently no one could really explain what had happened. Boateng first came on as a substitute in the 88th minute, before which he had cheered on the others from the bench, as he always did. But it did not help. Hans Hertha lost 1-2 (1-0) against Borussia Dortmund on game day 34. And ten years after the drama against Fortuna Düsseldorf, which ended after a storm in front of the DFB sports field, he has to fight again for relegation in the relegation.
Coach Felix Magath had already prepared his team for what might happen. With over 500 matches as a coach in the Bundesliga, you naturally develop a feeling for such a thing. Just two weeks ago, when Hertha only played a draw against relegation rival Arminia Bielefeld, the 68-year-old already told about his inspiration: “When I took on this job, I was sure we would play against HSV in the relegation. . Work on that I do not go there. But it would not surprise me if it came to this constellation. “
Although he did not work towards it, half of Magath’s scenario has now come true. But while some of his players were still in tears on the pitch after the final whistle, the 68-year-old analyzed the situation surprisingly calmly. “I have come across the result. I think we played a very good match and stood up against the German second place for more than 90 minutes. We showed that we are a first division team – and we have to do it. Twice now,” he told pay channel Sky.
Emotional BVB afternoon
In fact, it went a long way according to the plan for the Berliners, they only needed one point to stay up in the league. Then it would not have mattered what VfB Stuttgart did in the long-distance duel against 1. FC Köln. Cheered on by the fans who had traveled with them, the old lady took the lead early after striker Ishak Belfodil converted a justified penalty kick (18 ‘). The blue-whites then gave Dortmund the ball, but they did not know how they could become dangerous with it. Sometimes they pushed him back and forth in BVB’s back four, sometimes a pass ended off the field without any pressure from the opponent. The realization came from the row: It was half time with whistles.
Perhaps Magath-Elf also helped that Borussia had completed the key moments before the kick-off. The last match day at BVB was about deserving employees. The farewell marathon started at 2.45pm (three quarters of an hour before kick-off) when two longtime physiotherapists received the first flowers. After that, almost half of the eleven starters stopped warming up, and Erling Haaland, Roman Bürki, Axel Witsel and Axel Zagadou received their bouquets. It culminated in two emotionally charged highlights: First, longtime captain Marcel Schmelzer, then club icon and manager Michael Zorc, perhaps the greatest Borussia player of all time, said goodbye after 44 years in black and yellow.
It took time for BVB to get back into the fight after the emotionally charged ceremony. They were aided by a controversial video evidence of hand punishment. Haaland converted the penalty kick as a farewell gift (68th) before switching to Manchester City. The Norwegian thus increased his impressive goal count to 86 goals in 89 matches. The fate of Berlin was sealed afterwards. Only young Youssoufa Moukoko (84th) completed a fantastic pass from Jude Bellingham, a few minutes later VfB scored the 2-1 winner in the parallel match against Cologne. And it was about Hertha.
But while some Hertha fans were in tears on the pitch after the final whistle, and the fans who had traveled with them saw the BVB icon Zorc’s honor round, one person was again full of energy. “We have to continue where we left off on Thursday. If we play like that again, then I’m sure we have a good chance of staying in class,” Magath said after the game. The relegation was not the worst case scenario, but the minimum target, he explained at the subsequent press conference.
They have Magath to thank for the fact that the Berliners even have the opportunity to save another messy season. Together with his assistant coach Mark Fotheringham, he lifted the team and gave it structure again. The Magath commitment in March was mocked as the next curious chapter in the Berlin Chaos Club. It was, after all, not the first unusual coaching decision that CEO Fredi Bobic had made this season.
Halfway through the first half of the season, Bobic replaced club icon Pál Dardai with Tayfun Korkut, who had previously been out of a coaching job for more than two years. The hoped-for effect lasted exactly four games until the 3-2 home win over BVB shortly before Christmas. This was followed by ten matches without a win and falling to 17th place in the table. But then came Magath and with him perhaps the most spectacular comeback in recent Bundesliga history. The 68-year-old trained corona infected from the hotel room, Fotheringham whipped the eleven as the twelfth man on the spot on the sidelines. They won their first home game against Hoffenheim 3-0.
The most difficult mission
Magath made some changes on the team and brought Kevin-Prince Boateng back on the field from the stands. Although the now 35-year-old is no longer enough for 90 minutes, he now takes on the leadership role that was intended for him. Against Dortmund he did it from the bench. Left-back Marvin Plattenhardt has recently blossomed again under Magath. The 30-year-old, who himself joined the DFB team in 2017 with his dangerous set pieces, is once again preparing goals under Magath.
In addition, the 68-year-old is doing what he was probably obligated to do. Suddenly, the media focus is no longer on the team, but on the coach. Magath recently criticized FC Bayern’s performance in detail, accusing the distortion of competition as Bayern lost 3-1 to Mainz and then flew on holiday to Ibiza, only to play a 2-2 draw against Hertha’s relegation rivals Stuttgart.
And yet nothing has been saved yet. From his point of view, it would be a great achievement to stay up, Magath said in an RBB interview during the week. But two important battles are still missing. If his intuition is correct and HSV is number three in the table in the second division, it can be difficult – both on the sporting and personal level. Magath has a long history with HSV. He played 382 games for Hamburg and scored the decisive 1-0 victory over Juventus Torino in the final of the Europa Cup in 1983. “It doesn’t matter if I want something. I have to take it as it comes,” said Magath. “If it’s HSV, it’s going to be a tough fight for me, of course.”