End time mood at the city derby: Union humiliates Hertha long winter ago

Union Berlin managed a 2-0 win in the city derby against Hertha BSC without any problems. The Köpenicker dominate their opponent at will. But there is an apocalyptic mood over the stadium at the Alte Försterei. The sold out game causes displeasure in advance.

A couple of Hertha fans waving a huge blue and white flag across the street on the Wuhlheide. In front of the stadium, the spectators are kneading at the entrance. There they are checked. They should be vaccinated or recovered and ideally still tested. Many of them do not wear a mask. They wait and struggle to make progress. The association has increased the number of folders. Every single proof of vaccination must be checked. The 2G rules apply. At some point the fans are in the Alte Försterei, where the stadium DJ is playing “Dirty Old Town” by the Pogues.

For the first time since March 2020, a football game can be played at full capacity in Berlin. In the midst of exploding corona numbers, amid new lockdowns in Saxony and Bavaria. Muted atmosphere in Köpenick too. The future seems too uncertain. Again Too great concern about a new lockdown. The situation is too paradoxical. As is so often the case these days, when the way out of the coronavirus pandemic is becoming more and more blurred. In the daily new horror reports for the uncertainty of the thoughts, in which those who still consider Corona to be a conspiracy, hold their noses in the face in the public transport and their hostile look should cause confrontations. But many are tired, exhausted and tired of fighting. They surrender to their fate.

The beginning is not an end point

Corona, and not the game itself, made headlines in the run-up to the city derby between Union and Hertha. Is it even allowed to play a football game in front of fans under these conditions? What symbolic effect and what specific long-term consequences will this game have? Stadium announcer Christian Arbeit reminds of the requirement to wear a mask outside of the stands. He thanks for the support of the fans, who however rarely stick to it. At the drinks stalls where alcohol is not served, at the grills, there are queues everywhere, talking and hardly anyone wears a mask. That was to be expected in advance and is one of the contradictions that have to be endured in the Alte Försterei this late afternoon.

The excitement in the run-up was great, also because professional football does not give a particularly good picture in the pandemic for many reasons. Due to his exposure, he is always conspicuous, the big picture is negotiated with him. It symbolizes the event industry, which is struggling with major financial losses due to the various lockdowns and restrictions. Which he wants to catch. There are also prominent vaccination skeptics such as Joshua Kimmich at Bayern and of course the serious allegations against the former Bremen coach Markus Anfang, who is said to have used a fake vaccination certificate. Football as a reflection of society that has been sliding excitedly through the pandemic for a long time and slips again and again.

Union is also criticized

At the entrance things are slow.

(Photo: picture alliance / nordphoto GmbH / Engler)

But not only the absurdities of the pandemic, but also the demands that sometimes need to be researched, the special roles that are not because they always adhere to the political guidelines, cause displeasure and incomprehension. Again and again in the center of criticism: Union Berlin, who appear particularly brisk, who advocate the return of the fans early on, then rely on 3G and less utilization and only switch to 2G when there is no other way. Not all understand. For their own reasons, as evidenced by the absence of the ultra groups who disapprove of 2G. As with some other Bundesliga clubs. It’s complicated.

On the pitch itself, there was seldom a derby mood. Only with his substitutions did Dardai cause some emotion. Dennis Jastrzembski drew the displeasure of the Union fans when he rolled a ball in the direction of an opponent lying on the ground. But the pack formation in the 74th minute and an unmotivated tussle by Davie Selke remain the exception. Because on this Saturday you have to speak of a class difference. The hosts don’t even have to call up everything. Hertha’s flanks sail into the penalty area without great danger, mostly into the hands of the grateful Union goalkeeper Andreas Luthe, who at least gets a little occupation.

Iron class

The appendix who traveled with them gives the Hertha team a clear order a few minutes before the game. “We want to see you fight,” they call out from their small block. What still sounds hopeful will turn into frustration in the next 90 minutes. They’ll take their singing out of the drawer a few more times. It won’t do any good. The visibly hard-working Hertha team is not lacking a fighting spirit, but rather inspiration, punch and an idea of ​​what to do with the ball in the first place. Quite different is the iron, with the returnees Max Kruse pulling the strings, in which Genki Haraguchi does not shy away from a duel and Grischa Prömel and Rani Khedira direct the opponent’s modest attack efforts through the middle to let them peter out there.

Suat Serdar tries again and again in the first 45 minutes in the penalty area. He wants to carry the ball into the goal and ultimately gets stuck on a Unioner, does not even get the opportunity to fall spectacularly to demand a penalty. Too sure, too serene, act the iron, who in the first 45 minutes mainly wait for mistakes from the guests from the Westend. Just like Marton Dardai’s air hole in the eighth minute, which the once again wonderful Taiwo Awoniyi could take advantage of without any major problems.

“Superior in all respects”

Later, Hertha’s millionaire striker Kryzstof Piatek made a completely misplaced cross pass almost 30 meters in front of his own goal for a Union corner, which ultimately landed with captain Trimmel and a little later in the Hertha network. Only once does the game threaten to overturn. But Peter Pekarik’s hit out of nowhere denied the VAR recognition because Piatek was offside a few moments earlier with a head length. A game under VAR conditions is always like crossing the finish line on the horse racing track.


The Hertha fans dutifully provide for a short break just before the end.

(Photo: picture alliance / dpa)

“We were superior in all respects. We left our hearts on the field, as it should be for a derby,” said Max Kruse after the game, in which only the rather sloppy exploitation of chances prevented a higher win. The official statistics later show an expected goals value of 2.51 to 0.28. In short, this value represents the quality of all chances. Probably the strangest one is the substitute Sheraldo Becker. He can aim for the empty goal in stoppage time after Hertha keeper Alexander Schwolow and former national player Marvin Plattenhardt argue about the ball in an amateurish way outside the penalty area and give it away. But the shot spins past the far post.

The fans on the forest side don’t care. A few children celebrate with the rest of the audience on the podium, which usually belongs to the cantors. Even if the final humiliation does not succeed. Which is not a problem because the 90 minutes is one single humiliation for the city rival. It is a class difference that Hertha falls again in the table cellar and lets the Union jump to fifth place in the league. 2-0. But actually 5: 0. Felt.

With a total of 16 finishes on Hertha’s six, the balance of power is not even remotely depicted. Hertha’s 55 percent possession of the ball is pure eyewash. On this Saturday only one team will play football, only one team will follow their plan: Union. “We made good progress as far as the opponent’s 30-meter zone, but then we didn’t come to any conclusions. And when a shot was successful, it was simply too harmless. The opponent was simply better, more dynamic, stronger” says Pal Dardai after the game on Sky.

Apocalyptic mood

Hertha remains as harmless as one would have liked the development of the fourth wave. But it continues to develop its force. The 22,012 spectators in the sold out Alte Försterei long for a normality that may only be possible again after another long Corona winter. Already in stoppage time a couple of Hertha viewers dutifully ignite a couple of smoke pots. If defeat, then also in the smoke. You quote the team in front of the block. Need to speak after a frustrating appearance.

The Eiserne celebrate the city championship, give the away fans “You see, Hertha, this is how it is done” on the return journey and then make their own way back to the city. Stadium announcer Arbeit recommends that they keep this moment of derby victory in their hearts. It could be a long winter, he says. It sounds like a goodbye for a long time. Outside something is brewing that is stronger and more powerful than any city championship.

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