Sunday 15th August 2021
Berlin stumbles into the season
Cologne counters Hertha’s lightning start mercilessly
Hertha BSC has had a turbulent season in the Bundesliga, now everything should get better. But if you take the prelude as a yardstick, it will move again. Against 1. FC Köln, the team cannot convert a quick lead into something that can be counted. Instead, there is a bitter bankruptcy.
Thanks to Anthony Modeste and Florian Kainz, Steffen Baumgart got rid of the debut curse at 1. FC Köln and was the first coach since Volker Finke to win his premier in the Bundesliga with FC. In the 3: 1 (1: 1) against Hertha BSC, Modeste, who was goalless in the previous year and even awarded in the second half of the season, turned the game with a goal and an assist. Kainz hit twice. After the 0: 1 by Hertha’s new signing Stevan Jovetic (6th), Modeste, who scored 25 goals for Cologne in the Europa League in 2017, scored his first league goal in 14 months (41st). He prepared the 2-1 for Kainz (52nd), then the Austrian met again (55th). The victory of the courageous hosts, who had only saved themselves in the relegation last year, was deserved, the 16,500 spectators thrilled.
After Finke 2011, Stale Solbakken, Peter Stöger, Stefan Ruthenbeck, Achim Beierlorzer, Markus Gisdol and Friedhelm Funkel trained the Cologne team in the Bundesliga. Only Stöger scored a point on the debut.
The 31-year-old Montenegrin Jovetic, who was about to move to FC Köln at the age of 17, was meanwhile successful with his third ball contact in the Bundesliga and has now scored at least once in all five major leagues in Europe. In addition to returnees Mark Uth (Schalke 04) and central defender Timo Hübers (Hannover 96) in Dejan Ljubicic (Rapid Vienna), Baumgart had ordered a third summer entry into the starting line-up instead of Ondrej Duda. The Berliners had to do without Davie Selke (concussion) for a short time. In returning Kevin-Prince Boateng (AC Monza), national player Suat Serdar (Schalke 04) and Jovetic, three newcomers also started.
“There is only one way: forward,” Baumgart had announced. His players took this to heart and ran immediately. However, the new coach has not yet been able to remedy the fatal standard weakness from the previous season in preparation. After a free kick by Marvin Plattenhardt, Cologne keeper Timo Horn held Matheus Cunha’s header. The Brazilian Olympic champion passed the ball on to Jovetic, who pushed it over the line. After a short shock phase, the Cologne team continued to play enthusiastically at the front. Uth missed the great opportunity to equalize (18th). FC was lucky when referee Robert Hartmann looked at the TV pictures after an alleged handball by Rafael Czichos in the penalty area, but did not give a penalty. In the previous year there would have been that, according to the new regulation, in which the intention is in the foreground, the decision was okay. Modestes compensation was also checked, but VAR Patrick Alt saw no clear foul in the duel with the trainer’s son Marton Dardai.
After the change, the Cologne team took Hertha by surprise. Ellyes Skhiri could have made it 2-1 (48th), then Kainz scored twice within three minutes. Although Hertha only made limited pressure after that, Baumgart was committed to the sidelines every second, pacing the sideline up and down. In the final phase, his team was closer to 4: 1 with counterattacks than the Berliners at the connection.