FEATURE | Is Hertha BSC’s defence that good or are Adi Hütter’s Eintracht Frankfurt tactics going stale?

It was bound to be a rough game. Two years ago, the two sets of fans fought on the streets of Berlin, clashing on one occasion. Eintracht Frankfurt’s hooligans marched to Hertha’s pub and smashed it to pieces and a fight soon commenced. The games between the two have since been heavily guarded by police and by fans. According to sources within the Herthaner ultras sections, members were told to be ready for action before and after this game, something that very rarely happens.

However, there weren’t that many tickets sold beforehand. 45,000 tickets were gone the day before the game and that included the approximately 5,000 fans that Eintracht arrived with. Had the support from the Berliners, the one that was blistering at the start of the season and that created an atmosphere where even Bayern Munich crumbled under immense pressure, slowly died out? It would perhaps be reactionary to say, but this game pointed to that.

The game may have meant much to the ultras, but this was just another game for the common fan and a very difficult game at that. Hertha came into it with both of their starting central defenders missing through injury and had to start Fabian Lustenberger and Jordan Torunarigha as centre-backs against Frankfurt’s poisonous attack. The game was bound to go one way, but it never did.

It started rather slowly. The two teams participated in a very close and even start to the game, but slowly opened. Sebastien Haller got a great chance in the 11th minute, but squandered it. His shot lead to a corner, which Eintracht couldn’t take advantage of. A sloppy Eintracht kept on creating chances that rarely lead to anything. Ante Rebic tried a few times, but to no avail. Eintracht created nothing and Hertha’s defence stood firm. Then, out of absolutely nothing, Hertha score. 1-0 through Marko Grujic after a corner. Without hope and without witness, Berlin scored and Eintracht went into the second half 1-0 down.

After an offside-goal from Hertha, Frankfurt got back into the game and almost scored through Luka Jovic before Davie Selke found himself threw on goal again. He failed to score against a superb Kevin Trapp. The second half opened and both teams became prone to mistakes. Chances were created from both sides and the game found itself in a proper limbo.

Luka Jovic was brought down in the penalty area in the last minute, most journalists believed it to be a penalty, but the referee didn’t even consult VAR. Instead, the game went on and finished 1-0 to the home team in front of a measly 42,000 at the Olympic Stadium.

GGFN spoke to Frederik Rönnow after the game and he said that Frankfurt just needed to step up their game. They knew how they used to do and just need to re-find their way. He further explained that two lost games did in no way overshadow the fantastic autumn they’ve had. He was introspective regarding his own first season in Bundesliga. An injury in the first training had made it difficult to adjust to this very new level, but he had since then worked hard in training and felt fit.

Pal Dardai said after the game that Marko Grujic is one of the best players, if not the best, that he had ever trained. Does he see something that we don’t? However, Hertha’s point-per-game ratio is much higher with him than without him, which suggests that Pal Darddai, who obviously knows this best, has a very good point. Grujic was awarded with the Man of the Match in the game against Frankfurt.

A hard game between two high-flying urbans. Hertha won through a good defence and by anticipating Hütter’s attacking tactics. Are they going stale? Maybe, but only the future will tell.

By Axel Falk.


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