Start AgainBy: Abby | January 17th, 2011
The winter break comes and the winter break goes. Fortunately, not as long as it’s been in the past. We’re all ready to get back to the important business of hauling ourselves back to the Bundesliga.
Hertha BSC spent its winter vacation in lovely Portugal, enjoying a training camp out of the German cold. While there they also enjoyed two friendly wins, over the Dutch second-division leaders FC Zwolle and, more interestingly, Belgium’s Standard Liege. After that it was back to Germany, where they battered lower-division Babelsburg, and finished preparations to hopefully do the same to Rot-Weiß Oberhausen tonight.
Yes, now is when we repeat the games we played before, but away instead of home and vice-versa. Hertha’s 2. Bundesliga campaign began back when it was warm with a 3-2 win over Oberhausen, with Domovchiyski and Djuricin providing the goals. Since then we’ve moved up and Oberhausen have slid down, now finding themselves at 15th, just barely above the relegation playoff spot. They need points, and are definitely looking to keep them at home.
Of course, we need points too, especially as MSV Duisburg and FC Augsburg scored wins over the weekend that takes them above us on the table. Although we ended the break in second, we’re now in third. A win tonight would put us back into second.
The biggest concern is defense. With both Mijatovic and Hubnik suspended, Markus Babbel has to rely on the young Sebastian Neumann and the not-seen-since-December-2009 Kaka (no, not that one). The Brazilian was on loan in Cyprus for a while, but is apparently back and ready to play in the absence of the names we all know. Babbel says he’s “got stuck in at every training session,” and apparently has every confidence in the Brazilian. Which, of course, is what he’d have to say.
On a more positive note, it seems that Maikel Aerts is for real fit this time, really. The Dutchman played in the winter friendlies and his knee doesn’t seem to be giving him any problems, unlike the last time he claimed he was fine. At least now he’s played a few games, which gives me a lot more confidence that he’s actually back and not just claiming he’s fine. Patrick Ebert was also seen on the field in the friendlies, and while it may be too soon for him to start, he’s definitely back in the team.
The winter hasn’t seen any new signings, but it has seen Bayer Leverkusen sniffing around Nico Schulz, one of our prized youngsters. He’s not quite 18 and has already been impressive for us, and Hertha doesn’t seem all that interested in selling him off. Still, you never know in this business.
In backroom news, a mysterious investor/group of investors has apparently given Hertha €8 million to be used to service the debt and negative equity, meaning that no matter what league Hertha is playing in next season, we’ll be able to get a license for it. The investor(s) so far are secret, but the club has been telling the press that they are German citizens. As the contracts aren’t signed, they’re not saying anything else. It’s curious business, but it would be a massive benefit to the club, and doubly important if, heaven forbid, we aren’t promoted at the end of the season. Still, there’s something about mysterious investors and their piles of cash that one can’t help but find odd. We’ll see, I suppose.
In other news, Marvin Knoll and Alfredo Morales have signed professional contracts with the club. They’re both 20 and both Berlin-born. Morales’ international situation is a bit more complicated, though. He’s already joined up with the US youth setup, was at one point called into the German U-20 squad, and his father would love him to play for his native Peru. There’s an interesting little interview with him here. Of course, as an American, I’d love to see him stay involved with the USA, but I wish him and Knoll luck wherever.
And even more luck to the rest of the team tonight. Here’s to starting the second half off right!