Exactly 70 days after the last game against SV Werder Bremen, the Herthaner were back in action on Saturday afternoon as they returned to the Bundesliga with a bang. The conditions were very different to that of matchday 25, and so was the lineup as Bruno Labbadia made his debut on the sidelines for the Old Lady. The new coach made seven changes from the tam that started the game against Bremen: Jordan Torunarigha, Marvin Plattenhardt, Maximilian Mittelstädt and Matheus Cunha were the only ones to keep their places. The other starting players were Rune Jarstein in goal, as well as Dedryck Boyarta, Marko Grujic, Per Skjelbred, Dodi Lukebakio and captain Vedad Ibisevic. Youngsters Lazar Samardzic and Jessic Ngankam also made the bench with the latter coming on for his Bundesliga debut. Marius Wolf had to drop out of the squad due to an ankle problem.
Labbadia’s men started off in a 4-2-3-1 formation as they looked to stifle the home side’s attack. But whilst their tackling hadn’t lost any sharpness, they weren’t being rewarded for it. It wasn’t until the 20th minute when Ibisevic struck just past the post that Hertha managed to get their first chance of the game. At the other end Hoffenheim were threatening as Ilhas Bebou struck the Hertha bar before Jordan Torunarigha made a goal saving block to deny the home side the opener. Four minutes later, Hoffenheim has their best chance but Christoph Baumgartner couldn’t beat Rune Jarstein in the Hertha goal (28’). After that it was relatively quiet until just before half time when there was a flurry of chances for Hertha. After great wrk winning the ball back, Ibisevic fed Matheus Cunha who was one on one with Oliver Baumann but the TSG keeper made a great save. And so the teams went in at half time with the game scoreless.
The Herthaner came into the second half having made no changes and it wasn’t long until they got their first chance of the second period. Mittelstädt connected with a Peter Pekarik cross but his volley went over the bar, before Maximilian Beier had a great chance at the other end, but put his effort from ten yards wide of the mark (54’). The deadlock was finally broken soon after though, when a cross found it’s way to Peter Pekarik on the edge of the box and his volley was heavily deflected by Kevin Akpoguma into the back of the Hoffenheim net (58’). Just seconds later it got even better for the Herthaner when former TSG player Vedad Ibisevic powerfully headed home a Maximilian Mittelstädt cross to put the visitors 2-0 in front (60’). Mittelstädt then had a chance to make it three himself, but his effort was saved by Oliver Baumann (64’). But the players didn’t have to wait long for the third as Matheus Cunha’s incredible solo effort ended up with implanting it into the corner of the TSG net to make it a comfortable 3-0 (74’). In the final stages, coach Labbadia began to ring the changes, among them was Jessic Ngankam coming on for his Bundesliga debut (79’). Other than the, the game gradually fizzled out, making it a very comfortable afternoon for the Herthaner who celebrate their victory in style!
Conclusion and Outlook
After the 3-0 victory in Sinsheim, the Old Lady now sits in 11th place with 31 points. This coming Friday it’s the big one, the Berlin derby awaits Bruno Labbadia and his men as the players return to the Olympiastadion under the lights (22/05/20, 20;30 CEST).