Bundesliga Team Report: Hertha Berlin
The Bundesliga became the first major European league to restart since the Coronavirus outbreak. In the three weeks since its return we’ve been entertained with plenty of high-scoring games and tense clashes at both ends of the table.
The Bundesliga is a fantastic league to start a save in Football Manager as well. For a start, it’s fully licensed - no silhouettes on the team line-ups screen here - and each of the 18 teams in the league has a fully fleshed out, unique identity. Over the coming days we’re going to showcase six Bundesliga outfits that offer the best short and long-term challenges for you to get stuck into in FM20.
We kick things off with a trip to the capital to take a closer look at Hertha Berlin.
Berlin is a bustling city renowned for its nightlife, culture and historical landmarks. It’s fair to say though that it’s less associated with is success on the pitch.
Hertha Berlin are the city’s most popular club and one of Germany’s oldest but it’s been nearly 90 years since they were last crowned German champions. The team’s had significant investment pumped in this season from businessman Lars Windhorst who wants the team to compete with the Bundesliga big boys. That allowed for a load of high-profile signings in the January transfer window.
Money, a strong squad and the chance to make history - sounds like a perfect candidate for an FM20 save. Here’s everything you need to know before you pack your bags for Berlin.
Media Prediction: 4th
Board expectation: Avoid a relegation battle
The media think you’re outside title contenders and the board think you’re in a battle to beat the drop. The truth is you’re probably going to be somewhere in-between. The squad is too strong to be dragged into the relegation places – on paper at least – but a touch short of quality compared to the title favourites. Your first season in charge will probably see you scrapping with the likes of Mainz 05, FC Augsburg, Eintract Frankfurt and TSG Hoffenheim for mid-table.
Is that too easy for you? Wait until you get into the second season. Minimum expectation: finish in the top four. Good luck. After that, you’re expected to start challenging for the Bundesliga title on the regular.
The board don’t expect you to play a certain style of football, so you’ve got free rein to put your own philosophy in place. You will be required to bring players through the youth setup though; a perfect excuse to go shopping for wonderkids.
The bad news is that you’ll start off with no budget because of the signings the club made in real-life but there might be some pocket money thrown your way in January, if you’re doing well enough. It’s likely that you’ll be given plenty to spend after the first season so stick with it and you’ll be throwing money around like it’s nobody’s business.
One exciting project in the pipeline is a new stadium that the board are hoping to build as part of their five-year plan. Do well enough and it might just be named after you.
The massive jump in expectations from 2019/20 to 2020/21 means it’s vital that you get your player recruitment right, probably more so than in almost any other FM save. You’ll inherit a squad that’s got a good blend of youth and experience, but you’d be wise to shift some of the older players on before the end of the first season.
In the second season you’ll get Ondrej Duda, Eduard Löwen and Lucas Tousart back from their loan spells who will inject some real quality to your defence and midfield.
Ultimately, the Hertha squad is best described as solid. There are a couple of strong players in each area of the pitch, a couple of good young prospects such as Matheus Cunha and Santiago Ascacibar and some room to add in new signings and a few wonderkids.
Hertha caught the eye when they signed Piatek in January for what looked like a bit of a bargain. The Polish striker has got goals everywhere he’s played and is only 24 so his best years are very much still ahead of him. Best deployed as a Poacher, he’s got all the attributes of a classic number nine; Finishing, Heading and Anticipation. He’s comfortably the best striker at your disposal so get your wide men set up to provide him with top quality service. If you can Piatek firing then you’ll be set-up for your assault on the top four.
Stark has become the leader in Hertha’s defence since he joined from 1. FC Nürnberg back in 2015. The 24-year-old German is Mr.Dependable at the back with solid defensive attributes such as Tackling, Marking and Bravery. His 17 for Pace is pretty handy as well. He could form a strong partnership in central defence with Dedryck Boyata as the two look well-matched. You should be able to get at least a season out of that duo before bringing in someone new.
A true midfield all-rounder, Darida has been one of Hertha’s best players this season and will likely be one of your most important players in FM too. He’s comfortable playing in central midfield or as an attacking midfielder, giving you some flexibility with your tactics. However, his attributes are perfectly suited to the Box-to-Box Midfielder role. A system that includes one is going to play to his strengths and allow Darida to dictate play from the centre of the park.
There are four very decent young talents already in your first-team squad. Santiago Ascacibar is already the best defensive midfielder in the squad at 22 and 21-year-old Dodi Lukebakio will likely become your first-choice right winger in the first season. On the other flank you’ve got Javairo Dilrosun who will be injured at the start of the save but the 21-year-old is not only quick and skilful but has got a lovely cross on him as well.
Arne Maier, Matheus Cunha and Jordan Torunarigha will all start the save in backup roles, but it’ll be worth giving them some game-time in the first season because of their high potential. Torunarigha can easily develop into a very handy Bundesliga centre-back so use him in a rotation role with Stark and Boyata.
In the youth teams, the standout talents are Lazar Samardzic, Luca Netz and Dennis Jastrzembski. Netz is 16 and that most hallowed of things -a highly rated left-back while 17-year-old attacking midfielder Samardzic already has good numbers in all of the key areas. 19-year-old Jastrzembski spends the first season on-loan at fellow Bundesliga outfit, SC Paderborn. Once you get him back, he should be ready to be a back-up player to Dilrosun.
The Final Word
Hertha Berlin are definitely a long-term project but have all the ingredients to be mixing it with the likes of FC Bayern München and Borussia Dortmund at the top of the table in a few seasons time. You can expect sizeable financial backing from the board, some high-quality youngsters to come through the ranks and even a new stadium to move into. Berlin is one of the great European cities; it’s up to you to turn Hertha into one of the great European clubs.