Hertha Berlin Season Preview 2019: Can Hertha push for a European spot?
Ondrej Duda will be key (Getty Images/Christian Kaspar-Bartke)

An 11th place finish is what came of Hertha Berlin in what should be regarded as a very mediocre season, a season in which they started strongly. Until game week six they were sat in third position after a series of wins, most notably a 2-0 over Bayern Munich and a 4-2 win over Borussia Monchengladbach.

However, they seemed to plateau shortly after, tumbling down the table from third to eighth by matchday eight, following four draws and two losses in that time. On top of this, they were unlucky in the draw of the DFB Pokal having gotten Bayern in the R16, where they bowed out after a 3-2 loss. A potential reason for the mixed fortunes could have been the chopping and changing of the formations throughout the season. They swapped formation countless times, with little reasoning behind it, perhaps with new manager Ante Covic at the helm they might find some form of consistency across the board.

Transfer Business Overview

Hertha has welcomed in a few new faces with one familiar face coming back into the team for another season. Arguably the best player and fan favourite from last season, Marko Grujic, has re-joined ‘the old lady’ for a second season after putting in some great performances last time out.

The rest of the signings that they made have totalled up to just under £27 Million. £18M of the £27M was in the form of Dodi Lukebakio from Watford. The Belgian u23 international was on loan at fellow Bundesliga outfit Fortuna Dusseldorf and put in some good showings, getting 10 goals in 31 games and given that he is only 21, he has bags of potential in a league that he knows.

Following Nuremberg’s relegation to Bundesliga.2 Hertha have opted to take Eduard Lowen back to the top level of German Football. The 22-year-old can and did play in every position through the centre of the team from centre back to the second striker and could prove to be a real utility man for the next season.

Two signings that may have gone under the radar are Dedrick Boyata from Celtic and Daishawn Redan from Chelsea U23. Boyata joins Hertha following his contract expiry, whereas 18-year-old Redan joins for a £2.45 Million fee.

On the other hand, they have had to say goodbye to a couple of big players. First of them being Valentino Lazaro who moved to Inter Milan. The Austrian who was signed the season previously after a successful loan spell, provided both attacking and defensive capabilities last season and was picked up by the Milan based team for such capabilities.

The other player who will be leaving the team is Fabian Lustenberger who after 11 years at the club has returned to his native Switzerland with BSC Young Boys.

Jonathan Klinsmann, Julius Kade and Marius Gersbeck have also all been let go as free agents. Klinsmann has joined Swiss outfit FC Gallen, Kade has joined newly promoted Union Berlin and Gersbeck has joined Karlsruhe FC.

Manager Profile

As of this season, there is a new manager taking over at Hertha in the form of Ante Covic. This is Covic's first real shot at the big time, having been at the club since 2013. The Croat finished his playing career in 2010, having played 180 games for Hertha Berlin and Hertha Berlin II, giving him a good idea of the ethos and atmosphere around the club. It has by no means been given an easy task here. In footballing terms, Berlin as a city has underperformed now for a fair few years. However, given the current crop of players at his disposal, he has a good chance this year of climbing the table.

Player to Watch – Ondrej Duda

Slovakian international Ondrej Duda managed to leave his mark on the Berlin team in the centre attacking midfielder role and he will be looking to continue for the up and coming season. Last season he made 32 appearances and managed to get 11 goals and set up a further six for his teammates. Given the rate of progress that he has made since signing in 2016 from Legia Warsaw this season is set to be a big year for the 24-year-old.

One to Watch – Javario Dilrosun

The Ex-Manchester City youth prospect is certainly one to have a look at this year. The Dutchman has represented the Netherlands at every level from U15 to U21 level and in 2018 gained his first cap for the full national team. He is a tricky winger, with an eye for a pass which could prove a handful for many defences in the league. He is a player that Ante Covic will know well, given that initially following his move he was playing for Hertha Berlin II. If he's given the game time he could develop into quite the player.

Predicted finish – 8th

On the whole, it's clear that Hertha has the kind of quality required to reach the top half on the table. The real question is going to be whether they can find the consistency that they need to get the results they need. If the new manager can settle the team and get formations in place that get results then there should be no reason why they can't achieve a strong finishing position.