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Hertha Berlin out to dispel gloom before derby, Bayern games

January 17, 2022 GMT
Cologne's Anthony Modeste, left, scores the opening goal during the German Bundesliga soccer match between Hertha BSC Berlin and 1. FC Cologne in Berlin, Germany, Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022.  (Andreas Gora/dpa via AP)
Cologne's Anthony Modeste, left, scores the opening goal during the German Bundesliga soccer match between Hertha BSC Berlin and 1. FC Cologne in Berlin, Germany, Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022. (Andreas Gora/dpa via AP)
Cologne's Anthony Modeste, left, scores the opening goal during the German Bundesliga soccer match between Hertha BSC Berlin and 1. FC Cologne in Berlin, Germany, Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022. (Andreas Gora/dpa via AP)

BERLIN (AP) — After years of disappointment, Hertha Berlin fans are bracing themselves for yet more ahead of a daunting week against city rival Union Berlin and Bavarian powerhouse Bayern Munich.

Hertha hosts in-form Union in the third round of the German Cup on Wednesday, then league leader Bayern in the Bundesliga on Sunday.

Injuries, the coronavirus, and the upheaval caused by the high turnover of players amid another coaching change have complicated Hertha’s bid to emerge from its stubborn years-long cycle of underachievement.

On Saturday, new coach Tayfun Korkut’s team could only manage a scoreless draw against Wolfsburg – a team that had lost its last eight games across all competitions. Hertha lost its previous game 3-1 at home to Cologne.

Hertha’s 3-2 win over Borussia Dortmund before the winter break was a solitary highlight in a lackluster season so far. The club is laboring in 13th place in the 18-team league and has little hope of reaching the European qualification places it has long targeted.

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Union, meanwhile, which had targeted survival from its third season in the Bundesliga, is flying high in fifth.

Union is unbeaten in four games and will go into Wednesday’s cup game as the favorite. Union won their last meeting 2-0 in the league in November.

Bayern will also be expected to win at the Olympiastadion on Sunday. Julian Nagelsmann’s team eased to a 4-0 victory in Cologne and the club remains on course for a record-extending 10th successive league title.

Despite the pervasive sense of gloom around the club, Hertha sporting director Fredi Bobic said Sunday he has seen signs of progress in the seven months since he took over. He said expectations had been set too high, particularly since investor Lars Windhorst began backing the club.

“For the last two or three years there were proclamations of a breakthrough, and that made the following disappointments even greater,” Bobic told Hertha’s AGM, held virtually after the original was postponed from November due to the coronavirus.

“We don’t want to set off any balloons, but to progress through work. We have to develop into a big club, something we’re far from at the moment. It will take some time.”

Bobic said the club would continue to focus on its youth players, while there could also be “one or another” winter arrival following the departures of Krzysztof Piatek and Deyovaisio Zeefuik.

The sporting director said Korkut could also stay on as coach beyond the summer, when his contract runs out, if there is an improvement in the team’s performances.

“There’s nothing against that, if everything goes the way we imagine it should,” Bobic said. “But I want to see development.”

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Ciarán Fahey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaheyAP