Berlin - The start of the new season is moving ever closer. The first competitive game of the 2020/21 campaign is on Friday evening, as Hertha take on Eintracht Braunschweig in the first round of the DFB-Pokal (20:45 CEST). Bruno Labbadia and his team began preparations for the trip to Lower Saxony on Monday afternoon. Labbadia welcomed back Niklas Stark to Schenckendorffplatz following his recovery from an infection. The defender was able to join up with his teammates again, taking the number of players on the pitch to a total of 14. Dedryck Boyata has not yet returned to action and “could be cutting it close," in the words of Hertha’s coach. However, Labbadia will be able to count on Peter Pekarik and Ondrej Duda again from Tuesday. The pair trained individually in Berlin to be on the safe side, following their early departure from the Slovakian national team.
Taking the situation as it is
On Monday, Hertha began preparations for the first competitive game of the season. Niklas Stark is back in team training, but coach Bruno Labbadia will have to wait for Krzysztof Piątek and Vladimir Darida.
Number of available players remains low: Piątek and Darida in quarantine
Krzysztof Piątek will be quarantined on his return after being on international duty for Poland against Bosnia and Herzegovina on Monday evening. The 25-year-old will therefore not be available for the cup encounter against the second-division side. Vladimir Darida, who was with the Czech national team, has been given the all-clear following a negative test, but will have to quarantine for five days and so will not be able to join up with his teammates until Thursday. “This is anything but optimal preparation for the first game. We won’t have all the players who will be available for Braunschweig together until Thursday,” emphasised Labbadia to the journalists present at the start of the week. He added, “We are taking the situation as it is and are making the best of it together!”
Regardless of the low number of available players, the focus in Monday's session was on quality of play, opening up the game and switching play, and last but not least, finishing. On Tuesday, representatives of the media will have another chance to get an impression of Hertha’s work in training, before the players train behind closed doors on Wednesday and Thursday. On Friday evening, the Old Lady will want to show their teeth to the Braunschweig Lions and, in spite of all personnel setbacks, make it to the next round of the cup.