Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hertha BSC looked in danger of plummeting into the 2. Bundesliga.
But they have cemented themselves as a strong mid-table side that realistically could compete for a Europa League spot.
There are many contributing factors to this newfound success, but it’s difficult to dispute Bruno Labbadia’s appointment as the most instrumental one.
Even though there, of course, are other factors behind the rise of Hertha. Like that of Marko Grujic, for example. Not to mention sporting director Michael Preetz.
The Labbadia Effect
Even though it is not scientific, the ‘Labbadia effect’ is a real phenomenon. Just ask Hamburg and Wolfsburg fans, two clubs that despite their differences share one thing in common – they were both saved from relegation thanks to Labbadia.
Hamburg in the 2014-15 season and Wolfsburg in 2017-18. Labbadia is hoping to repeat this feat with Hertha Berlin, without having to endure the agony of a relegation playoff. In fact, seeing the Old Lady in the Europa League this autumn is far from unlikely.
Preetz, Hertha’s sporting director, had this to say about Labbadia’s appointment: “His ideas of playing attacking football, his meticulousness and his ambition all fit perfectly with Hertha Berlin and our goals”.
Hertha’s results undoubtedly back this up. 3-0 away against Dusseldorf and a 4-0 demolition in the Berlin derby are a couple of the most noteworthy examples. Hertha had only lost one game under Labbadia prior to MD31, and that was a narrow 1-0 away loss to Borussia Dortmund.
However, a humiliating 4-1 defeat at the hands of Eintracht Frankfurt at the Olympiastadion may dampen the buoyant atmosphere building in the German capital.
Four wins out of six is still a superb record nonetheless, especially when you take into consideration the fact that many people had Hertha tipped for relegation.
Marko Grujic’s Impact
With nine goals in 50 games across his two seasons at Hertha BSC, Grujic has became a key figure at the club.
“Liverpool will get back a player who is definitely more experienced than he has been before, because he earned very important game practice,” Preetz revealed.
He added: “Marko is a player who is present in both penalty boxes. Just in his first year he played extraordinary.
“Now after the restart he is getting back into good shape. He is just a very good player. So for me this loan agreement definitely made sense.”
Preetz is not the only admirer of Grujic with former manager Pal Dardai previously describing him as “the best player at Hertha Berlin in 20 years.”
Regardless of how instrumental Labbadia and Grujic have been, the success and rise of Hertha Berlin extends beyond these individuals.
Football is a team game, obviously, and this success would not be achievable without a full team effort.