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Unter Den Linden


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Unter den Linden

Berlin is a cosmopolitan city. Since 1989 it has been a free city, unspoilt by restricting walls. For over forty years it was split into pieces - West Berlin deep in central East Germany, yet still considered part of the West. East Berlin belonged to the DDR.

Now the capital city of a united Deutschland, Berlin leads the way in many fields - with one notable exception - football.

Even in the days after the war, teams in the west of Berlin played in the West German leagues. Many fans who were caught the wrong side of the wall were denied access to their teams.

The Berlin soccer scene contains a number of teams who have graced the professional ranks of German Football, however none of these have managed a Bundesliga title since the league was formed in 1963. This makes Germany unlike many other footballing nations where capital city teams dominate or challenge on a regular basis.

Hertha BSC, the biggest team in the capital, did manage back to back victories in 1930 and 1931 but this came back in the amateur knockout days of German football. Three third place finishes and a runners up spot in the seventies promised much, but were only backed up by two decades of struggle. A third placed finish in 1999 brought Champions League football to the Olympiastadion for the first and only time. This was surely an opportunity to move to the next level, however despite much investment the side remains very much a top half team at best, like many others constantly living in the shadows of the eternal 'meisters' of the Bundesliga, Bayern Munchen.

The people of the capital demand success, and crave the Bundesliga shield. When this success is delivered, the natives will take to the streets and celebrate Unter den Linden.

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Unter den Linden

Berlin is a cosmopolitan city. Since 1989 it has been a free city, unspoilt by restricting walls. For over forty years it was split into pieces - West Berlin deep in central East Germany, yet still considered part of the West. East Berlin belonged to the DDR.

Now the capital city of a united Deutschland, Berlin leads the way in many fields - with one notable exception - football.

Even in the days after the war, teams in the west of Berlin played in the West German leagues. Many fans who were caught the wrong side of the wall were denied access to their teams.

The Berlin soccer scene contains a number of teams who have graced the professional ranks of German Football, however none of these have managed a Bundesliga title since the league was formed in 1963. This makes Germany unlike many other footballing nations where capital city teams dominate or challenge on a regular basis.

Hertha BSC, the biggest team in the capital, did manage back to back victories in 1930 and 1931 but this came back in the amateur knockout days of German football. Three third place finishes and a runners up spot in the seventies promised much, but were only backed up by two decades of struggle. A third placed finish in 1999 brought Champions League football to the Olympiastadion for the first and only time. This was surely an opportunity to move to the next level, however despite much investment the side remains very much a top half team at best, like many others constantly living in the shadows of the eternal 'meisters' of the Bundesliga, Bayern Munchen.

The people of the capital demand success, and crave the Bundesliga shield. When this success is delivered, the natives will take to the streets and celebrate Unter den Linden.

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Fast forward to January 2008

Fako Gotz pays for Hertha BSC's recent poor performances with his job. One win and eight draws from the opening half of the season is hardly respectable form. With fan protests becoming ever more vocal, Gotz was pushed. Chairman Schiphorst claimed that the timing was perfect. The new coach would have two weeks to prepare his men, and a month to wheel and deal in the transfer window.

'The team needs strengthening, and funds must be made available' demanded vocal fan spokesman Stefan Trautmann.

Schiphorst responded in Berliner Zeitung that "relegation is not feasible" and that "fans should be at ease - the board of directors are taking every step to ensure that the club stabilises is the coming months so that it is in a position to challenge next season."

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Here's Uli

Hertha BSC have surprisingly taken the step of appointing youth coach Ulrich Hess to the post of first team manager. This is somewhat of a surprise given the quality of the other available applicants for the job, and also given Hess's lack of top level experience. Hess will be assisted by former player Andreas Thom, and current reserve team coach Nello Di Martino.

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Hess Conference

New man Hess stated in no uncertain terms that he was the man to take Hertha to the next level, after he has pulled them out of the bottom three that is. He denied his lack of experience would make a working relationship with the players difficult, before proceeding to proclaim that he knew they would survive, not because they were too good to go down, but rather because the players would work as if their lives depended upon it. Crude terminology perhaps - but this man will be judged on his results, not his words.

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Fast Forward to May 2008

Rechnung*****te

Hertha BSC gained the point they needed to stave off relegation to Bundesliga Zwei when drawing 0-0 away to already relegated Aue. This point coupled with defeat for last seasons champions Freiburg meant the side from the Black Forest suffered the ignominy of being the first championship winning side to be immediately relegated since Nurnberg in the 1960's.

The other side threatened by relegation - Bochum, also lost their final match of the season but survived by a point thanks to Wolfsburg's 2-0 win over Freiburg.

Bayern ist Meister

Bayern manager Giorgio Pelizzaro vindicated the decision of management committee Beckenbauer & Hoeness in sacking Louis Van Gaal three months ago by delivering the championship shield for the twentieth time. VfB Stuttgart, leaders at the start of play slipped to a 5-2 defeat by fifth placed Leverkusen - opening the way to Bayern and Koln to overtake them.

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Now is our chance

The fixtures for the forthcoming season - Bundesliga 2008-09 - were revealed today, with Hertha travelling to the BayArena to face Leverkusen. This match will be followed a week later by the first home match of the season against newly promoted Alemannia Aachen.

Uli Hess has stated that the outcome of the first game will provide an excellent indicator of how his side will fare over the course of the coming season. "Once the referee blows the whistle for the start of the match, I expect our players to be snapping at Leverkusen heels, with only one thing on their minds, getting the ball and not giving it back. The golden rule is that football is an easy game when you have the ball."

When quizzed on their first opponents Hess was forthcoming with plenty of praise. "Their victory which denied Stuttgart the title showed what they are capable of. And once again they have worked the transfer market cleverly. They cherry pick malleable hungry young players and forge them into a tight unit by knitting them together with experienced war horses."

Two players in particular have caught his eye in recent months - "Ryan Babel and Maarten Stekelenberg have impressed me in particular, players of their calibre would rightfully grace any team in the Bundesliga, and probably 99.99% of teams in the Champions League."

Hess however didn't restrict the praise to Hertha's forthcoming opponents, choosing to recognise his own side’s strengths. "I've been impressed with many of our own players since I've stepped up to the hot seat, and yes while the results haven't been amazing, some individuals performances have stood head and shoulders above others - naturally these performances have been reassuring." Two particular players who received praise were Gilberto and Marcelinho. When quizzed, Hess replied "The two old men from Brazil, ha, they should have their feet up on the beach by now, but their appetite for glory is phenomenal. If we had eleven players with their attitude and application - I wouldn’t even have a job."

Hess also confirmed that pre-season would comprise of 5 fixtures, an away tie against cross city rivals Union Berlin followed by a 3 date tour of Israel, and a trip to England to play London club West Ham.

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Thom to Mallorca

Andreas Thom has surprisingly been appointed manager of Mallorca. The news came as a surprise to manager Hertha manager Uli Hess who only learnt of the appointment through the media.

"It was something of a shock, yes. He wasn't in training today which in itself is a surprise. Now I know why, ha ha." Hess was disappointed that he wasn’t consulted but refused to hold a grudge. "It is a wonderful chance for a very good coach. I wish him luck, but we have moved on already. Nello Di Martino will become assistant manager. We have been actively overhauling our coaching structure in the close season and have already recruited Estigarribia and Elio Carravetta from Brazil, so this news simply means that we need to hire one additional team member. It is not something for our supporters to be worried about."

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Clearout

Speculation is rising that existing members of the Hertha first team squad will be released from their contracts in the build up to the expected announcement about players signed under pre-contract agreements. Manager Hess has stated previously that he has secured the signing of a number of high profile players under the Bosman ruling. The identities of these players would be announced on July 1st when the transfer window re-opens.

Various players are expected to be on the culling list including January signings such as Giggs, Del Piero and Marlet. It has been suggested that these players will choose to retire rather than suffer the ignominy of being released with a year still to run on their contracts. They may have been great players in the past, but suffice to say none of the three had the desired impact in the second half of the season.

Strikers Derlei and Artur Wichniarek are also expected to go – possibly being made available for nothing. Derlei has only started one game since signing in January from Dinamo Moscow, whilst the Pole Wichniarek has made just one substitute appearance since the side came under Uli Hess’s tutelage.

Further players on the periphery of the first team are expected to be made available, including strikers Glasner and Jermaine Jones, and wingers Ludwig and Muller. Meanwhile the Dutch pair Lammers and Dorothea have been offered new incentive based contracts despite only making fleeting appearances in their first season at the club.

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Oranje Triumph

The Dutch National team were crowned champions of Europe after defeating old rivals Germany 2-0 in the European Championship final in Vienna. In a bad tempered affair three players saw red, with Germany finishing with eight men thanks to a badly timed injury to full back Hinkel.

The fun started with the dismissal of Dutch defender Hofland in the 57th minute. Germany proceeded to make three substitutions to try and force their way through the Dutch defence but were reduced to ten men themselves when Hinkel picked up a bad injury shortly after.

The match limped in to extra time and came to life in dramatic fashion shortly after the start of the second half. Germany were rocked by two red cards in two minutes, first for Christian Schulz and secondly to Philip Lahm. The Germans immediately reorganized and looked towards penalties – which were just 10 minutes away. But they were rocked by a phenomenal free kick from Giovanni Van Bronckhorst, and seconds later torn apart by a savage counter attack that saw Rafael Van der Vaart secure a second European Championship title for the Netherlands.

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1st July 2008

New Squad Takes Shape

Uli Hess has made no bones about the fact that he had made significant pre-contract signings during his brief time with the club. In the interests of all concerned he felt it necessary to keep the names of these players under wraps until the day their current contracts had expired. That day is today, and the Hertha manager certainly hasn’t disappointed. Staying up on the last day of last season was one thing, the coming season will be much different given the quality which has been injected into the squad.

Today’s roll call brought seven new signings, all off whom look impressive in the new Hertha home and away strips. Even more impressive was the fact that no transfer fee had been paid for the new troops. Time will tell whether this string of signings is the most significant collective deal since the introduction of the Bosman ruling. It looks promising for sure.

The roll call started with the most high profile player, Nelson Haedo Valdez, a 24 year old Paraguayan striker signed from Werder Bremen. Valdez has proved his class with 52 goals in his last three seasons for the Northern club. His signature is a coup for Hess but a bitter body blow to the title hopes of Werder manager Thomas Schaaf.

Valdez was followed out by Russian forward Alexandr Kerzhakov who joins from champions Bayern. Kerzhakov revealed that Hess’s keenness and ambition were key to securing his signature. Also of importance was the managerial melee at Bayern where uncertainty reigned for a month for the out of contract players, between the departure of Van Gaal and the arrival of Pelizzaro. Hess’s attitude at this stage played a crucial part in getting his man.

Dutch international defender Wilfried Bouma joins from PSV Eindhoven. Having just turned 30, Bouma can play left back or centre back. Bonaventure Kalou, a versatile Ivorian front man arrives from French side Auxerre and Belgian International keeper Silvio Proto joins from La Louviere to add to the competition between the sticks.

Finally come two Serbs – the striker Danko Lazovic from Feyenoord and Red Star Belgrade’s Dusan Basta. Lazovic has a reputation for rubbing people up the wrong way, meanwhile Basta is a full back come right winger very much in the mould of Brazilian legend Cafu.

Having seen these men stand on the turf at the Olympiastadion, the biggest intrigue now for Hertha fans, is where all these players fit into Uli Hess’s first XI. In the run in to the end of the last season, Hertha lined up with just one striker – with Hess perming one from four – Javier Portillo, Rodrigo Tiui, Denes Toth and Gregory Dorothea. Add Lazovic, Valdez, Kalou and Kerzhakov to this and you have a serious selection headache.

In terms of departures, Del Piero, Giggs & Marlet all bade farewell to the capital city after a series of mixed bag performances. Del Piero and Giggs are moving in to coaching, but Marlet still thinks he has another year in his locker. Former U21 defender Markus Steinwerth joins them on the job market are failing to agree new terms with the manager. Hess claimed that Steinwerth’s demands were unrealistic given his standing within the team. Florian Hube also departed, joining Halle. Reserve team players Leone and Gallerre were both released to return to their native Italy having come through the youth system at Hertha.

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Four more go

The revolving door at Hertha’s training ground continues to swing, as four more players depart for pastures new. First out of the door is Jermaine Jones who moves to Wacker Burghausen for £500,000. He is followed hours later by Brazilian forward Derlei who joins the same team but for no fee. Both strikers should be well equipped to deal with the demands of Bundesliga Zwei, but have no obvious future at the highest level.

Artur Wichniarek is the third striker to leave, joining Arminia Bielefeld on a free transfer. Wichniarek has been a good servant to Hertha but is past his best and has barely featured since Uli Hess took the reigns of the first team.

Finally goalkeeper Carlos Idriss Kameni has joined St-Etienne for £2million plus a significant slice of any future sale.

Uli Hess gave his reasons for the departures…

“Jones appears to be a good lad but for me he was simply missing something. I couldn’t put my finger exactly on what it was, so I felt it best to allow him to move on, especially given the quality of strikers we have signed in the last sixth months. It is much better for him to play for a first team in the second division than to be playing in our Amateur team.

Derlei was something of an impulse buy for me. I had seen him many times in previous seasons, and when I heard he was available for a very small fee I felt he might be able to help us as we had been struggling to score goals before Christmas. Unfortunately he is not the player that he was when he was with Porto, and he seems to have lost some of his best strengths – strengths which would enable him to compete against defenders in the Bundesliga. Again given the quality of players that we have brought in, I decided he should be allowed to leave. I’m confident that he can do a good job for Burghausen in the second division.

The decision on Wichniarek was a similar one – an abundance of quality options up front, and his age and injury record last season contributed to him being touted to various clubs. Bielefeld were quick to respond, as they have fond memories of him playing for them not so long ago.

The call on Kameni was a difficult one as he clearly is a very talented keeper and a superb athlete. The offer from St-Etienne came something out of the blue, but I was happy to accept it as I had been considering making him available. Whilst he had played well for us last year, we were forced to switch our starting goalkeeper regularly because of his commitment to his national team – something which he was loathe to give up. Luckily we have signed Silvio Proto under freedom of contract, and he should prove to be a more than adequate replacement.â€

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19th July 2008

Friendly Round up

Union Berlin 0-2 Hertha

A chance for Hertha fans to get a look at the new signings – all of whom played a part in this match. Lining up with a 4-1-3-2 system, Hertha were too powerful for their cross city rivals who will compete in Regionalliga North division in the coming season. Early goals from Marcelinho and Danko Lazovic settled the match.

Maccabi Haifa 0-4 Hertha

The first match of a tour of Israel proved to be surprisingly easy, despite being televised on Israeli state television. Johan Vogel and Nelson Haedo Valdez were particularly effective in their roles. Valdez netted a treble, whilst Rodrigo Tiui also found the net.

Maccabi Tel-Aviv 0-0 Hertha

This Maccabi side put up much more of a performance than their rivals, managing to hold Hertha to a scoreless draw. MTA have been regulars in the UEFA cup group stages and showed more guile than Hertha had witnessed in their previous match.

Beitar Jerusalem 2-4 Hertha

The final match of the tour saw plenty of goals, including a late fightback from the hosts – the two goals scored were the first conceded in pre-season for Hertha. Kalou, Lazovic and a Valdez double beat the home keeper.

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22nd July 2008

Rat in, Spaniard out

With the 2008-09 Bundesliga season almost upon us, Hertha BSC boss Ulrich Hess has continued his rebuilding program by bringing in one player, and allowing another to move on, meanwhile speculating that he intends to sign four more players in time for the curtain raiser at Leverkusen.

Razvan Rat, a Romanian International left back come left midfielder joins the club on a free transfer from Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk. The Romanian elected to walk from the club at the end of his contract after a dispute over unfulfilled promises. Rat can expect a tough task dislodging the current left back Malik Fathi from the team though. Fathi has established himself in the Nationalmannschaft, and also recently signed a new three year contract at Hertha.

Surprisingly Hess has elected to sell Javier Portillo, last seasons top scorer, to Italian club Parma for £7million. Portillo, a free transfer from Real Madrid last August, impressed many with his finishing ability, notching 11 goals for a shot shy team, to the point that he signed a new extended contract only in January.

Further rumour surrounding transfer dealings suggests that Hess has lined up four further signings, two of whom are believed to have been committed to the club by way of pre-contract agreements since March. When quizzed on the subject of these signings, Hess gave little away. “Its true, we have four players in our minds. Two are confirmed, and we are talking to two other clubs about deals. The sale of Portillo gives us the necessary funds to strengthen other areas of the team, without leaving us short of options up front. We still have Rodrigo, Valdez, Kerzhakov, Lazovic and Dorothea, plus further options in the reserves and Under 18’s.â€

“With particular regard to Portillo, he made the following comments “It is a good move for him, and we are happy with the deal we struck with Parma. We also received offers from Betis and Marseille. The Betis offer was not as large as the Parma deal, but we accepted it as I expected that he would wish to return to Spain.â€

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25th July 2008

West Ham 1-1 Hertha

The final pre-season warm up match was something of a game of two halves for Hertha. A cool first half display was not followed up after the break as manager Hess introduced his substitutes. Patrick Scullion equalised in the 80th minute for the Hammers, Rodrigo Tiui had given the visitors the lead in the 14th minute with a cute header.

The starting eleven will almost certainly – fitness permitting, be the team that starts at the BayArena against Leverkusen in a week’s time. The formation was 4-1-3-2, as follows:- Silvio Proto in goal with a back four of (right to left) Dusan Basta, Arne Friedrich, Wilfred Bouma & Malik Fathi. Johan Vogel patrols in front of the back four with the other three midfielders allowed more freedom to attack. Those three were Kalou, Marcelinho and Gilberto. Valdez and Rodrigo lead the line.

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Meet The Squad

Michael Melka - GK | GER | 30 | £400K

A solid squad player who made 15 appearances last season. He may not make this many this season.

Nico Pellatz - GK | GER | 22 | £675K

Decent young keeper who will expect to challenge Proto for the number one jersey.

Silvio Proto - | GK | BEL | 25 | £1.3M

Summer arrival from La Louviere who has 14 caps for his country. Should start the season in possession of the keepers jersey.

Arne Friedrich | D RC | GER | 29 | £5.5M

Fine defender who was crucial to Germany’s march to the Euro Championship final. Played at right back for Hertha last season but will start in the centre this season. A target for many big clubs, but Hess will not let him leave cheaply.

Ralph Gunesch | D RC | GER | 24 | £325K

Former St. Pauli defender enters his second season at the club having made a good impression in his first campaign. He may find the likes of Basta and Bouma harder to shift form the first team than Steinwerth was.

Pablo Batalla | D L | ARG | 24 | £425K

The full back has come off the transfer list in recent weeks after impressive pre-season performances. However the recent signing of Rat will be a kick in the teeth.

Wilfred Bouma | D LC | NED | 30 | £3.6M

The summer arrival is expected to start at the heart of defence and Hess will hope he can forge a tight partnership with Arne Friedrich.

Joris Mathijsen | D LC | NED | 28 | £650K

Arrived from AZ Alkmaar in the January transfer window after some rave reviews in the Dutch Eredivisie. Has played well in fits and spurts so far, and as with Gunesch and Batalla, he may find himself spending time in the reserves this season.

Philippe Senderos | D C | SUI | 23 | £650K

Promising young centre back who will require regular action if he is to meet his potential. Time will tell as to whether he will receive this game time.

Patrick Müller | D/DM RC | SUI | 31 | £1.9M

Flexible and experienced, Müller is a valuable squad member who was virtually ever present last season. He should see plenty of action once again this season.

Christopher Samba | D/DM RC | COD | 24 | £275K

A versatile team player who signed a new deal in the summer. Identifying his best position may be crucial to making a lasting impact with the first team.

Malik Fathi | D/DM L | GER | 24 | £4.3M

A quality full back who has established himself at both club and international level. He should be almost ever present this season.

Rãzvan Dinca Rat | D/DM L | ROM | 27 | £1.7M

A free transfer signing from Shakhtar, Rat will challenge Fathi for the left back spot, and possibly provide back up for Gilberto in midfield. Should prove to be a worthwhile addition to the squad.

Dusan Basta | D/AM R | SCG | 23 | £2.9M

Full back likened to Cafu, and so far hasn’t disappointed in pre-season. Expected to start the season at right back.

Holger Hofmann | DM C | GER | 19 | £55K

Young hard tackling midfielder who saw some action at the end of last season when the midfield needed stabilising. With a new system in the offing, expect him to take a back seat unless injuries strike.

Johann Vogel | DM C | SUI | 31 | £5.75M

A extremely good midfielder who was picked up in January for a hefty £5m fee. A lot of money for a 31 year old, but so far he has looked worth every penny.

Gilberto | M L | BRA | 32 | £3.5M

The Brazilian was arguably the most consistent player in the squad last season. He will hopefully continue with this form into the new season as part of a much stronger midfield.

Christian Müller | AM R | GER | 24 | £1.5M

Homegrown winger who has struggled to make an impact with the first team. Unless injuries strike, he can expect to spend most of his season with the reserves.

Alexandr Samedov | AM R | RUS | 24 | £1.9M

Free transfer signing from Spartak who strengthened a weak area of the team at a crucial time in March. He will fight it out with Kalou for a spot on the right of midfield.

Alexander Ludwig | AM RL | GER | 24 | £450K

As with Muller, he can expect a tough season on the sidelines unless injuries strike key players.

Elroy Lammers | AM L | NED | 22 | £825K

The Dutchman can expect to start on the bench as Gilberto will be a hard man to displace. He has the time and the potential to make the step up to regular first team football.

Marcelinho | AM C | BRA | 33 | £2.7M

The creative hub of the team, Marcelinho made the Bundesliga team of the season last year. His probing and prompting will once again be key to the teams successes.

Stefan Schwarz | AM C | GER | 17 | £110K

Highly rated youngster who will provide back up to Marcelinho.

Bonaventure Kalou | AM/F RC | CIV | 30 | £6.5M

Versatile summer signing who will play a key role this season. His pace should cause opponents plenty of problems.

Nelson Haedo Valdez | F RC | PAR | 24 | £12.25M

A massive signing for the club, he should be able to add the necessary cutting edge to fire the side up the table.

Gregory Dorothea | S C | NED | 22 | £1.4M

Back up striker who will primarily play in the reserves.

Alexandr Kerzhakov | S C | RUS | 25 | £8.5M

New signing with proven strike record in the Bundesliga, will fight it out with others for a starting role up front.

Danko Lazovic | S C | SCG | 25 | £7M

Brought in from Feyenoord with a reputation for disrupting harmony. Hess will hope his other speciality comes to the fore – scoring goals.

Rodrigo Tiuí | S C | BRA | 22 | £5M

Big money signing from Fluminese in January who will benefit from a decent pre-season after some niggling injuries. Should score plenty of goals at this level.

Denes Toth | S C | HUN | 22 | £3.6M

Has all the attributes needed to succeed at the top level but has suffered badly from home sickness in his brief time at the club. Time will tell if he can turn his potential in to the finished product.

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30th July

Mexican Connection

Two of the promised signings arrived at the Hertha training ground for presentation to the world today. Both have arrived on a plane from Mexico City after finalising terms on their contracts with the Hertha sporting director.

Jan Lastuvka, a Czech International goalkeeper joins for £4.8m from Morelia, whilst Mexican International Midfielder Ricardo Balderas joins from Pumas for £4.2million.

Ulrich Hess made the following comments about the players:- “We’ve got a list of players here that we highlighted as possible Hertha players, and these two both scored highly in the required areas. When we received the Portillo money I targeted the areas where we could strengthen the team and make offers for the players who topped our rankings in those positions.

Lastuvka has Champions League experience with Shakhtar, International experience with the Czech Republic, and his get out clause represented excellent value for money. He is a tall man with excellent hands, huge hands. He will work well with Silvio Proto, so I now believe that we have two top goalkeepers to choose from.

When we were watching Lastuvka in the Mexican league for Morelia, we noticed an excellent creative player called Balderas, who was playing for Pumas. We spent a bit more time examining him and were particularly impressed with his performances in the Copa Libertadores. Marcelinho won’t keep going forever so we see Balderas as a long term replacement.â€

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1st August 2008

The Final Pieces

The final two signings promised by Hertha boss Ulrich Hess arrived today having finished their previous contracts. Maxi Rodriguez from Espanyol and Theo Lucius from Ajax will both expect to take a back seat as the season gets underway in two days time. Both should prove to be valuable additions to the first team squad as they aim to challenge for Europe.

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Monday 4th August 2008

Hertha start with win

Bayer Leverkusen 1-3 Hertha BSC

Uli Hess saw his Hertha side get the perfect start to the season as they picked up an excellent win at the BayArena. Against a strong home side, Hertha took control early on and controlled the game throughout, creating more chances, and most importantly scoring more goals.

The starting line up featured five debutants, and three more came off the bench to appear in the blue and white stripes for the first time – crucially all eight looked comfortable with the game plan.

Rodrigo and Valdez netted either side of halftime, but Hertha were pegged back on 69 when the talented Ryan Babel pulled a goal back to awake the dormant home support. Carsten Ramelow took the calls for commitment too far and saw red for an appalling challenge with ten minutes to go. Freshly introduced substitute Kerzhakov took advantage of gaps in the Leverkusen defence to seal the victory by lobbing Cudicini.

Leverkusen: C.Cudicini, Adriano, P.Van der Heyden, U.Mohrle, E.Al-Qaisy, I.Amanatidis, J.Krzynowek, E.Barreto, C.Ramelow, R.Babel, C.Carignano – Subs (I.Azaoum, B.Schneider, Z.Grygera)

Hertha: S.Proto, D.Basta, M.Fathi, A.Friedrich, W.Bouma, J.Vogel, B.Kalou, Marcelinho, Gilberto, NH Valdez, R.Tiui – Subs (R.Rat, T.Lucius, A.Kerzhakov)

MOM – B.Kalou

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Bundesliga Week 1 Results:-

Aachen 0-1 Erfurt,

Bochum 0-2 HSV,

Cottbus 0-2 FC Köln,

Dortmund 2-0 1860 Munchen,

Bayern 4-0 Lubeck,

Gladbach 3-1 Schalke,

Stuttgart 1-2 Wolfsburg,

Werder Bremen 2-0 Hannover 96

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Monday 11th August 2008

Berlin Romp

Hertha BSC 5-0 Aachen

The blue and whites romped to victory in their first home match of the season in front of 54,834 at the Olympiastadion this afternoon. Buoyed by the opening weekend victory over Leverkusen, Uli Hess’s men put on a confident display against newly promoted Aachen, who after falling behind early on, were always struggling to keep up with the pace.

Hertha suffered a set back before kick off when Rodrigo Tiui suffered an injury in training. The natural replacement was Kerzhakov who stepped in after his goal scoring sub appearance at BayArena, and opened the scoring in the 6th minute with an early contender for goal of the season. Seconds later Klitzpera put through his own net to put Hertha comfortably in command, and give them a platform on which to perform.

Shortly after the break Kalou skipped past two and rounded the keeper to net his first for the club and really kill the match as a contest. This allowed Hess to introduce three more debutants – Maxi, Balderas and Lazovic. All three benefited from the game time, and two made a noticeable impact. Lazovic teed up Friedrich for the fourth, and Mexican Balderas banged in the 5th from distance in the final minute.

A difficult season beckons for Aachen, but Hertha look pumped for a top season

Hertha: S.Proto, D.Basta, M.Fathi, A.Friedrich, W.Bouma, J.Vogel, B.Kalou, Marcelinho, Gilberto, NH Valdez, A.Kerzhakov – Subs (D.Lazovic, R.Balderas, M.Rodriguez)

Aachen: K.Nicht, T.Stehle, T.Gellner, M.Sichone, A.Klitzpera, M.Vorbeck, M.Christ, K.Michalke, S.Rolfes, M.Yeates, W.Sanou – Subs (L.Reghecampf, K.Jones, D.Gomez)

MOM - Gilberto

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Bundesliga Week 2 Results:-

1860 Munchen 1-4 Leverkusen

Erfurt 4-0 Bochum

HSV 1-1 Stuttgart

Hannover 96 2-0 Cottbus

Lubeck 1-1 Dortmund

Wolfsburg 1-1 Werder Bremen

FC Köln 1–0 Gladbach

Schalke 2-0 Bayern

League Table

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">

1 Hertha 2 2 0 0 +7 6

2 Erfurt 2 2 0 0 +5 6

3 FC Koln 2 2 0 0 +3 6

4 Werder 2 1 1 0 +2 4

5 Dortmund 2 1 1 0 +2 4

6 HSV 2 1 1 0 +2 4</pre>

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Perfect Start

Hertha Berlin manager Uli Hess yesterday spoke of his delight at his sides perfect start to the season. Two wins out of two, and the best goal difference in the league puts Hertha top of the fledgling 2008-09 league table.

“Two down, thirty two to go†said Hess, speaking at the press conference after the comfortable 5-0 win over Aachen. “Getting to the top is easy, its staying there that is difficultâ€.

Asked whether the performance in the opening matches had altered his expectation for the season the manager replied â€No, the performances have simply been a vindication of my confidence before the season. Our goals for the season have not changed – unless we find ourselves in a super position. My expectation is top 5, which means UEFA Cup. Depending upon our opponents and our own consistency that could easily rise to top three – and Champions League, or fall to 7th and scraping into the Intertoto. One of the motivations for the players will be that Intertoto football means a short summer holiday.

He continued to discuss Hertha’s rivals: â€Naturally Bayern will be there or thereabouts when the shield is presented. That is normal – we all know about it when Bayern aren’t top of the league! The main challengers might just be Koln - and I know that Magath would love to put one over his ex employers. Indeed the performances of Podolski alone were almost enough to take the title last year after a strong finish. Stuttgart looked masterful at times last year but the players will have to fight against bad feelings in their heads – they had the look of double winners but finished with nothing, after just two bad games.

The other big clubs – HSV, BVB, and Bremen will all challenge – but perhaps not for the title. I expect these teams to be our main challengers for the UEFA cup places. I like Bremen in particular – so much so that I stole their best striker (Valdez). But they still have plenty of firepower, Klasnic & Vittek will surely finish amongst the top scorers this season.

I also like Wolfsburg who have plenty of talent – in particular Lauth up front. Benny is a great player – to be honest I never understood why Hamburg sold him so quickly. Plus there is also Leverkusen – they will certainly bounce back after our win at BayArena. I would imagine that these teams will challenge Hertha for a top half finish.â€

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No Departure & Injuries

Hertha Berlin have revealed that they have rejected three more bids for talismanic International defender Arne Friedrich. â€Liverpool, Depor, Bologna. All three made approaches to talk to Friedrich. However we are not selling for three reasons – One, we don’t want to, two, we don’t need to and three, the player is happy – not even interested in talking numbers with them.â€

Joris Mathijsen & Alexandr Kerzhakov are both out of the weekend’s cup tie against VfR Neumünster after picking up injuries in a training session today. Team doctors expect the pair to miss around two weeks as a result, meaning that they will join Rodrigo Tiui in the medical room.

Bayer Madness

A mad day at the BayArena has seen two of Leverkusen’s star players sold, for a total of over £20m. First manager Jupp Heynckes saw Paraguayan midfielder Edgar Barreto move to Bayern for £10m – the biggest transfer fee paid this summer by a German side, and a real statement of intent for Bayern’s title challenge.

This was followed hours later by news that Udinese had signed Ryan Babel for around £11m. Whilst Barreto’s departure was predicted, Babel’s move came completely out of the blue, especially as Babel had declared his love for the club after hitting nine goals in his first six games of the season.

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German Cup 1st Round

Hertha stroll

VfR Neumünster 0-5 Hertha BSC

Manager Uli Hess made five changes to his starting line up for this first round cup match against second division Neumünster. Jan Lastuvka, Razvan Rat and Maxi Rodriguez all made full debuts, and its doubtful that Lastuvka has ever enjoyed an easier match – he didn’t even have a save to make.

Maxi Rodriguez gave the away fans a brief showcase of his attacking abilities – hitting a first half hattrick from midfield before being replaced by Balderas. In the second half, Bouma and Vogel netted to complete a comfortable victory.

VfR Neumunster – K.Knocker, T.Weber, M.Fink, L.Davids, T.Zellner, TJ Petersen, O.Gloden, M.Heidrich, H.Kouadio, F.Escobar, C.Kollmergen – Subs – R.Alcantara, S.Scharf, S.Bopp

Hertha BSC – J.Lastuvka, D.Basta, R.Rat, W.Bouma, A.Friedrich, J.Vogel, B.Kalou, M.Rodriguez, Gilberto, D.Toth, G.Dorothea – Subs – R.Balderas, R.Gunesch, D.Lazovic

MOM – Maxi Rodriguez

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Post Match Interview

So 5-0, and a place in the next round of the cup, I guess you can have nothing to complain about?

â€Quite, and a clean sheet into the bargain, which is a boost for Lastuvka on his debut – although I don’t think he made a save.â€

Yes, according to Press Association statistics Neumünster didn’t have a single shot. It was a real walk in the park wasn’t it?

True, but in fairness the chances of them beating us were very small – we have brought in top level players, something they can only dream of at the moment. At their own level they are flying, two promotions in two seasons – so we mustn’t belittle them.

So what was the thinking for playing Lastuvka?

Simple, I have two excellent keepers – both of whom need matches. Proto has the shirt at the moment in the league, but Lastuvka arrive late so had no chance to play in the friendlies. We couldn’t throw him into the league matches when he didn’t know his team-mates. Now he has had two weeks to familiarise himself so it made sense to play him. He might not have had a save to make but everyone in the back five will have benefited from 90 minutes together.

And Maxi?

Yes, he played 45 minutes, did his job perfectly so why not give Balderas his turn. I was confident the match was won – so to me it made sense to try the Mexican in that position.

Finally Uli, Dynamo Dresden away in the next round. Its an East German derby…

â€Yes, I believe they played well to beat Braunschweig – who have started better than them in the league. Dresden should provide a more difficult challenge than Neumünster and the stadium should be sold out – which will make it feel like a proper cup match. Winning the cup is a definite objective for us – for one it is easier to win than the league.â€

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Thanks for the comments guys icon_biggrin.gif

Bundesliga Week 3

VfL Bochum 0-0 Hertha

After flying out of the blocks in the first three matches of the season, Hertha were stopped by a brick wall named Weidenfeller. The Bochum goalkeeper pulled off some superb saves as bottom played top.

After two stinking games Bochum played with their backs to the wall hoping not to concede - which they managed successfully, yet they were unable to muster much of an attacking threat - only one shot, compared with Hertha's seven.

Bochum - R.Weidenfeller, YJ.Anchico, S.Kling, L.Andreasen, D.Hill, E.Skela, S.Rolfes, M.Navidkia, P.Madsen, Bobo, S.Traut - Subs - F.Trojan, V.Lokvenc, M.Wenczel

Hertha BSC – S.Proto, D.Basta, M.Fathi, W.Bouma, A.Friedrich, J.Vogel, B.Kalou, M.Rodriguez, Gilberto, NH.Valdez, D.Lazovic – Subs – R.Balderas, Marcelinho, R.Tiui

MOM - Roman Weidenfeller

Other Bundesliga Results

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">Aachen 0-0 1860 Munchen,

Cottbus 0-0 Wolfsburg,

Bayern 2-1 FC Koln,

Gladbach 2-0 Hannover 96,

Schalke 4-0 Lubeck

Stuttgart 4-1 Erfurt,

Leverkusen 1-1 Dortmund,

Werder 2-0 HSV

1 Hertha 3 2 1 0 +7 7

2 Werder 3 2 1 0 +4 7

3 Schalke 3 2 0 1 +4 6

4 Bayern 3 2 0 1 +3 6

5 Gladbach 3 2 0 1 +3 6

6 Erfurt 3 2 0 1 +2 6</pre>

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Wednesday 27th August 2008

Bundesliga Week 4

Hertha 3-0 VfB Stuttgart

Hertha bounced back after being held away at Bochum, by destroying last seasons bridesmaids Stuttgart at the Olympiastadion. Uli Hess shuffled the pack once again, recalling Marcelinho after his rest and moving Kalou upfront to partner Valdez. The changes worked a treat, as the new front pair shared three goals.

After a frustrating first half Valdez opened the scoring with a header from a Kalou cross in the 53rd minute. Seconds later Valdez netted again with an outrageous 25 yarder which left Hilderbrand groping at air. Kalou wrapped up the points on 68 firing through a crowd of players following a corner from Lucius.

Hertha BSC – S.Proto, D.Basta, M.Fathi, W.Bouma, A.Friedrich, T.Lucius, M.Rodriguez, Marcelinho, Gilberto, NH.Valdez, B.Kalou – Subs – R.Balderas, D.Lazovic, P.Muller

VfB Stuttgart - T.Hildebrand, M.Delpierre, Z.Low, K.Boulharouz, M.Stranzl, F.Meira, C.Tiffert, M.Engelhardt, D.Jensen, A.Arshavin, Cacau - Subs - V.Iaquinta, J.Vranjes, S.Biruk

MOM - Nelson Haedo Valdez

Other Bundesliga Results

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">FC Koln 1-1 Schalke,

1860 Munchen 2-1 Bochum,

Dortmund 5-2 Aachen,

Erfurt 1-3 Werder,

HSV 2-0 Cottbus,

Hannover 96 1-1 Bayern,

Lubeck 3-3 Leverkusen,

Wolfsburg 2-1 Gladbach

1 Hertha 4 3 1 0 +10 10

2 Werder 4 3 1 0 +6 10

3 Dortmund 4 2 2 0 +5 8

4 Wolfsburg 4 2 2 0 +2 8

5 Schalke 4 2 1 1 +4 7

6 Bayern 4 2 1 1 +3 7</pre>

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31st August 2008

Deadline Day

Goat Disaster

Supporters of FC Koln suffered a big blow yesterday as their two first choice strikers were sold hours before the transfer window closed. Wonderkid Lukas Podolski was first to go - joining Real Madrid for £22m, he was shortly followed by Souleymane Youla who departed for Chievo for £7m plus 18 year old forward Marotto. Supporters groups have made comments about planned protests before future matches about the shoddy way in which the club has 'blown' its chances of returning to glory.

Elsewhere two of the biggest moves involved Dortmund, where one player joined and another left. Ciprian Marica joined from Strasbourg for 14.5 million. Marica is a Romanian international striker, who move to Alsace after a spell with Shakhtar Donetsk. In order to finance the deal, Peer Kluge was offloaded to Bayern for £6.5 million - a move which was actaully applauded by a number of BVB fans.

Werder Bremen also spent big, replacing Nelson Haedo Valdez with Roberto Colautti, an Argentinian striker for £4.5 million. The beefy striker arrives from St-Etienne after only 12 months with Les Verts. His previous experience includes a couple of years with Boca Juniors.

Satisfied

Hertha manager Uli Hess said he was satisfied to see that another rival team had been weakened, but he hoped that the Bundesliga wouldn't continue to haemorrage top players to foreign leagues after the likes of Ryan Babel and Lukas Podolski moved onto pastures new.

Hess remarked "We've seen two of our rivals weakened in the last few days, first Leverkusen and next Koln. It helps our chances of finishing higher up the league but it isn't positive for the long term well being of the league.

We have seen some teams strengthen though - but I'm not sure that BVB, Bayern and Bremen need anymore players!"

Meanwhile a few dealings took place involving Hertha on the closing day of this transfer window. No one new was brought in, but a few pieces of business were tied up, as Hess elaborates

"We've allowed Glasner to move on to Ahlen on loan for the season. We have the option to recall him if we need. I just feel he needs regular football, and Ahlen can offer him a better standard down in the Regional North league, than our Amateurs can currently offer in the Oberliga.

He's a decent player who's a little raw. Given plenty of competitive football he should prosper. I certainly expect him to net a few times this season.

We also received some good news regarding one of our old players. Ashkan Dejagah, has joined Nurnberg from Liverpool, which gives us £275k due to a 30% sell on clause negotiated by the previous management."

Knocks and Crocks

There was some bad news for Hertha fans today though as three players picked up bad injuries during a training match at the training ground.

First to fall was inspirational playmaker Marcelinho who will be out for around 3 weeks with a calf injury.

Worst of all was the broken leg suffered by Swiss Patrick Muller. The versatile defender come midfielder is expected to be out of action for around five months as a result of his collision with Rodrigo.

Alexandr Kerzhakov will be missing for a couple of weeks with a foot injury - a quick look at his medical records will show that this is the Russian's achilles heel. The former Bayern man did receive some good news when it was announced that his crackerjack volley against Aachen had won the goal of the month competition for August.

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Reaction to Stuttgart

"Although the result at Bochum was a set back, the performance wasn't - so I felt that in order defeat Stuttgart we would just have to keep plugging away - playing the way we want to - setting the pace and imposing our gameplan. I'm please to say we did that.

At half time we just patched up the knocks, handed out the lucozade and told the players to keep going. Hildebrand played well in goal for them but thankfully not as well as Weidenfeller did at Bochum. But to be honest there wasn't too much he could do to stop some of our shots"

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6th Sept 2008

Werder Bremen 2-1 Hertha

Hertha suffered their first defeat of the season at the Weserstadion against a strong Werder side. Thomas Schaaf's side made the most of their chances and held a 2-0 lead at the break thanks to goals from Kehl & Vittek. In both instances Hertha failed to clear their lines after a couple of long throws and were duly punished.

Uli Hess made changes at half time, shuffling the side by introducing the Mexican Balderas in place of Maxi Rodriguez. This had an effect, and Hertha finally broke through in the 71st minute, Kalou got the goal, heading in a cross from Johan Vogel. Despite coming under fierce pressure in the closing moments, the home side held firm to take the victory and leapfrog Hertha at the top of the table.

Werder - A.Walke, V.Pekrul, C.Schulz, F.Baumann, V.Ismael, S.Kehl, M.Maltritz, S.Bork, K.Kallstrom, R.Vittek, I.Klasnic - Subs - F.Mohr, R.Paul, F.Banecki

Hertha - S.Proto, D.Basta, M.Fathi, W.Bouma, A.Friedrich, J.Vogel, B.Kalou, M.Rodriguez, Gilberto, R.Tiui, NH Valdez - Subs - R.Balderas, D.Toth, D.Lazovic

MOM - Robert Vittek

Other Bundesliga Results

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">Bochum 2-0 Dortmund,

Cottbus 0-1 Erfurt,

FC Koln 2-1 Lubeck,

Aachen 1-1 Leverkusen,

Bayern 3-0 Wolfsburg,

Gladbach 2-1 HSV,

Schalke 2-2 Hannover 96,

Stuttgart 4-0 1860 Munchen

1 Werder Bremen 5 4 1 0 +7 13

2 Hertha BSC 5 3 1 1 +9 10

3 Bayern Munich 5 3 1 1 +6 10

4 1.FC Koln 5 3 1 1 +3 10

5 Gladbach 5 3 0 2 +3 9

6 RW Erfurt 5 3 0 2 +1 9

</pre>

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13th September 2008

Hertha 2-0 Energie Cottbus

The blue and whites returned to winning ways with a comfortable victory against their fellow East Germans. Balderas got the show on the road in the 7th minute with a cute drive from outside the area after a some smart build up play.

Ogungbure got himself dismissed in the 80th minute, and with the 10 men pushing for an equaliser they were hit on the break by the pace of Kalou who finished sweetly, securing victory in the process.

Hertha - J.Lastuvka, D.Basta, M.Fathi, W.Bouma, A.Friedrich, J.Vogel, B.Kalou, R.Balderas, Gilberto, D.Lazovic, NH Valdez - Subs - M.Rodriguez, A.Samedov, T.Lucius

Cottbus - M.Ziegler, A.Schmidt, C.Gibbs, D.Mulder, G.Berhalter, R.Keidel, D.Grote, L.Moreira, A.Ogungbure, A.Iordache, Tuni - Subs - H.Sarpei, A.Caruso, T.Geiβler

MOM - Nelson Haedo Valdez

Other Bundesliga Results

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">HSV 0-1 Bayern,

Lubeck 2-0 Aachen,

Dortmund 0-1 Stuttgart

Erfurt 0-3 Gladbach

1 Hertha BSC 6 4 1 1 +11 13

2 Bayern Munich 6 3 1 1 +7 13

3 Werder Bremen 5 4 1 0 +7 13

4 Gladbach 6 4 0 2 +6 12

5 VfB Stuttgart 6 3 1 2 +4 10

6 1.FC Koln 5 3 1 1 +3 10</pre>

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16th September 2008

German Cup 2nd Round

Dynamo Dresden 0-1 Hertha

Hertha's passage into the 3rd round of the German cup was relatively comfortable at the Rudolf-Harbig stadium in Dresden. Despite a 26,000 sell out roaring them on, the home team failed to trouble the Hertha keeper.

Meanwhile Hertha created a number of presentable chances which were either passed up by the Hertha players or kept out by man of the match Philipp Heerwagen. The goal eventually came around the hour as Bonaventure Kalou finished from just inside the penalty area from the breakdown of a corner.

Dynamo Dresden - P.Heerwagen, B.Schlicke, C.Hauser, F.Ranieri, R.Schaschko, D.Bushuev, K.Hansen, Emerson, B.Goor, I.Promise, K.Lavric - Subs - A.Thamm, M.Berger, M.Bozic

Hertha - J.Lastuvka, D.Basta, M.Fathi, W.Bouma, A.Friedrich, T.Lucius, B.Kalou, R.Balderas, Gilberto, G.Dorothea, NH Valdez - Subs - E.Lammers, J.Vogel, D.Lazovic

MOM - Philipp Heerwagen

Other Cup results

Three shock results were recorded in the second round of the cup. Firstly Bayern were eliminated 1-0 away at Eintracht Frankfurt of Bundesliga 2. Carl Zeiss Jena defeated Rot Weiss Erfurt on penalties, and Nurnberg triumphed 2-1 at home to Schalke 04.

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