Hertha has to go into relegation: Felix Magath threatens to fight HSV's past

After the last-minute drama, Hertha BSC now has to go into relegation.

Hertha has to go into relegation: Felix Magath threatens to fight HSV's past

After the last-minute drama, Hertha BSC now has to go into relegation. Coach Felix Magath still thinks he has a good chance - even if the experienced coach could face a difficult duel.

Visibly helpless, Kevin-Prince Boateng ran towards his teammates after the final whistle. With a questioning look, he first turned to Santiago Ascacibar, then to substitute goalkeeper Oliver Christensen. Apparently no one could really explain what had happened. Boateng only came on as a substitute in the 88th minute, before that he had cheered on the others from the bench, as he always did. But it didn't help. His Hertha lost 1-2 (1-0) against Borussia Dortmund on matchday 34. And ten years after the drama against Fortuna Düsseldorf, which ended after a storm in front of the DFB sports court, he has to fight for relegation again in the relegation.

Coach Felix Magath had already prepared his team for what could happen. With over 500 games as a coach in the Bundesliga, you obviously develop a feel for such things. Because just two weeks ago, when Hertha only played a draw against relegation rival Arminia Bielefeld, the 68-year-old already spoke about his inspiration: “When I took on this job, I was sure that we would play against HSV in the relegation. Work on that I don't go there. But it wouldn't surprise me if it came to this constellation."

Even if he wasn't working towards it, half of Magath's scenario has now come to pass. But while some of his players were still in tears on the field after the final whistle, the 68-year-old analyzed the situation surprisingly calmly. "I've come to terms with the result. I think we played a very good game and stood up to the German runners-up for more than 90 minutes. We showed that we're a first division team - and we have to do that twice now," he told the pay channel Sky.

In fact, things went according to plan for the Berliners for a long time, they only needed one point to stay up in the league. Then it wouldn't have mattered what VfB Stuttgart did in the long-distance duel against 1. FC Köln. Cheered on by the fans who had traveled with them, the old lady took the lead early on after attacker Ishak Belfodil converted a justified penalty kick (18'). The blue and whites then gave Dortmund the ball, but they didn't know how they could become dangerous with it. Sometimes they pushed him back and forth in the BVB back four, sometimes a pass ended up out of bounds without any pressure from the opponent. The acknowledgment came from the ranks: It was half-time with whistles.

Perhaps the Magath-Elf also helped that Borussia had completed the most important moments before kick-off. The last day of the game at BVB was all about deserving employees. The farewell marathon started at 2.45 p.m. (three quarters of an hour before kick-off) when two long-serving physiotherapists received the first flowers. After that, almost half of the starting eleven stopped warming up and Erling Haaland, Roman Bürki, Axel Witsel and Axel Zagadou accepted their bouquets. It culminated in two emotional highlights: first the longtime captain Marcel Schmelzer, then club icon and manager Michael Zorc, perhaps the greatest Borussia player of all time, was said goodbye after 44 years in black and yellow.

It took time for BVB to get back into the game after the emotional ceremony. They were helped by a controversial video evidence hand penalty. Haaland converted the penalty due as a farewell gift (68th) before moving to Manchester City. The Norwegian thus increased his impressive goal tally to 86 goals in 89 games. Berlin's fate was sealed afterwards. Only youngster Youssoufa Moukoko (84th) completed an amazing pass from Jude Bellingham, a few minutes later VfB scored the 2-1 winner in the parallel game against Cologne. And it was about Hertha.

But while some Hertha fans were in tears on the pitch after the final whistle and the fans who had traveled with them were watching BVB icon Zorc's lap of honor, one person was full of energy again. "We have to pick up where we left off on Thursday. If we play like this again, then I'm sure we have a good chance of staying in class," said Magath after the game. The relegation was not the worst-case scenario, but the minimum goal, he explained at the subsequent press conference.

They have Magath to thank for the fact that the Berliners even have the opportunity to save another messed-up season. Together with his assistant coach Mark Fotheringham, he raised the team and gave it structure again. The Magath commitment in March was mocked as the next curious chapter of the Berlin chaos club. After all, it wasn't the first unusual coaching decision that managing director Fredi Bobic had made this season.

Halfway through the first half of the season, Bobic replaced club icon Pál Dardai with Tayfun Korkut, who had previously been out of a coaching job for more than two years. The hoped-for effect lasted exactly four games until the 3-2 home win over BVB shortly before Christmas. This was followed by ten games without a win and the drop to 17th place in the table. But then came Magath and with him perhaps the most spectacular comeback in recent Bundesliga history. The 68-year-old coached corona infected from the hotel room, Fotheringham whipped the eleven as the twelfth man on site on the sidelines. They won their first home game against Hoffenheim 3-0.

Magath made some changes to the team, bringing Kevin-Prince Boateng back onto the pitch from the stands. Even if the now 35-year-old is no longer enough for 90 minutes, he is now taking on the role of leader that was intended for him. Against Dortmund he did it from the bench. Left-back Marvin Plattenhardt has recently flourished again under Magath. The 30-year-old, who even made his way into the DFB team in 2017 with his dangerous set pieces, is preparing goals again under Magath.

In addition, the 68-year-old does what he was probably obliged to do. Suddenly the media focus is no longer on the team, but on the coach. Magath recently criticized FC Bayern's performance in detail, accusing the distortion of competition when Bayern lost 3-1 to Mainz and then flew on vacation to Ibiza, only to only play 2-2 draw against Hertha's relegation rivals Stuttgart.

And yet, nothing is saved yet. From his point of view, staying up would be a great achievement, said Magath in an RBB interview during the week. But two important games are still missing. If his intuition is correct and HSV is third in the table in the second division, it could be difficult - on a sporting and personal level. Magath has a long history with HSV. He played 382 games for Hamburg and scored the decisive 1-0 win over Juventus Turin in the final of the 1983 European Cup. "It doesn't matter whether I wish for something. I have to take it as it comes," said Magath. "If it's HSV, it will obviously be a difficult game for me."


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