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For the love of the Game #3 (Part 2) – The Olympiastadion, Hertha BSC

I’m sat up in bed while I write tonight. It’s just a couple of days before we fly from Gatwick on Saturday morning and things have gone very wrong indeed. One of the group, Sharpy, has royally fucked up. His passport only has a couple of months to run before it expires and he’s discovered that he needs at least 3 months on it to be able to travel to Germany. It’s too short notice for him to get a new passport. It’s a hammer blow for Sharpy and I feel for him. The show must go on, as they say. So now, we are down to three: the three Amigos.

We’re travelling light and I’ve already started to pack my rucksack. My passport is the first thing to go in alongside two European plug adapters. The phone battery charger is thrown in too. You don’t want to be stranded abroad and out of mobile power.

Since my previous post, Hertha have lost heavily again. Eintracht Frankfurt dispatched the Blau-Weiß 3-0 in a match that was all but over inside the first half-hour, courtesy of a quick fire double from Kolo Muani. After he had been brought down by Hertha defender Filip Uremovic, the 24-year-old French striker dusted himself down to fire the hosts ahead from the resulting spot-kick. Not long after, Muani had his second goal of the game and ninth in the Bundesliga this term, when he buried Jesper Lindstrom’s through-ball beyond Oliver Christensen and into the corner of the net.

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Hertha’s woes were almost deepened when Muani was denied his hat-trick by an offside decision before Tuta also had a goal correctly chalked off. With the hosts in rampant mood, it was no surprise when Hertha conceded a third. Aurelio Buta completed the scoring, slotting into the corner from outside the box. The UEFA Europa League champions continue to impress towards the top of the table, while Hertha remain without a point in 2023 and sit 17th in the table.

Sunday’s game looks to be an uphill struggle for Die Alte Dame. They have lost 9 out of their last 11 games and have amassed just 14 points from 19 games. Hertha have now gone more than four hours without a goal, and have scored just once this calendar year so far.

In contrast their visitors on Sunday afternoon, Borussia Monchengladbach, find themselves 9th in the Bundesliga, one place above where they finished last season. According to, Borussia Monchengladbach’s squad is valued at €233m: the 6th highest in the Bundesliga. Hertha is valued at €97.2m. which is the 14th highest in the league. It could be argued that both sides are underachieving at this stage of the season.

Amongst Hertha’s ranks, right winger Dodi Lukébakio is the highest goal scorer with 7 goals in the Bundesliga this season. The Belgium international has been far more prolific this season after a loan period at Wolfsburg last term. There is a strong argument for playing Lukébakio at centre-forward. He has scored 2 goals in 3 matches when playing in that position.

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The Frenchman, Lucas Tousart, is one of Hertha’s most valuable players. Playing in a defensive midfield position, Tousart has contributed 2 goals and has an overall rating on of 6.74. According to the passing stats, he appears to give the ball away too often. His pass completion rate is just 65.5%.

Only one other player from Hertha is in the top 100 players this season. Suat Serdar’s 6.81 rating puts him 71st in the league. His 4 goals this season makes him the second highest scorer.

Defensively, Hertha Berlin have been poor this season. Already they have conceded a total of 35 goals, an average of 1.84 goals a game.

It feels good to have done a little background research. I’ve not been keeping up with the Bundesliga this season. At least not as much as I have done in previous years.

Of all the players on show, I am interested to check on the progress of Monchengladbach’s Florian Neuhaus. He caught my eye as an Under-21 in the World Cup alongside Wolfsburg’s Lucas Waldschmidt.

I check in on WattsApp with the other two. I’m suddenly in charge of the travel arrangements once we are in Berlin. I download an underground map of the city and plan our routes for Day 1. I post an image of the directions in our group chat, complete with annotations. Stefan is in a mood with me because I haven’t drawn anything rude on the image. I oblige.

It’s lunchtime in my day job and I have one more lesson to teach before the end of the day. I’m buzzing. Finally, the weekend that we have been planning for months is almost upon us. I can’t wait.

As I get ready to post this, I receive a Twitter message from @Exilherthaner (Andy Brechmen) who wishes us well for our trip. He also recommends somewhere for us to eat near the S-Bahn Station. Unfortunately, Andy can’t meet us in Berlin. He has a bad back and is unable to make the trip from Frankfurt. I send him a quick reply to thank him and wish him well. The bell has gone for the end of the school day. Now the fun begins.

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