Late at night, Hertha striker Davi Silk sent another message via social networks: “Thank you for your great support! Have a nice Sunday break, Hertha fans!” Silk wrote in a selfie he took right in front of the Olympic stadium runway. Hand on the smartphone, the other clenched fist in exhilaration. The compliment came as a bit of a surprise. Because minutes before the recording, disputes between Hertha’s professionals and fans were still open. The footballers had clearly moved away from the eastern curve, and instead of celebrating the all-important 2-0 win over FB Stuttgart with the fans, they all went to the dressing room. And so the evening had a distraction from what was happening on the lawn: social distancing at the Westend in Berlin.
This history has nothing to do with infection and isolating people. But with Hertha’s penultimate home game, the defeat is 1:4 against city rivals 1. FC Union.
At the time, most Hertha fans called on the team to lay their shirts on the ground because the players had abused the shirt after three defeats in the derby against their neighbors from Kopenic. This was followed, as it now turns out, by a tacit agreement between Hertha’s players about the shadows – to cut off contact with their fans wordlessly. The players did not go to see the fans they traveled with in the previous week, after the 1-0 win in Augsburg.
“It’s okay for players to fight back,” coach Felix Magath said after his 500th Bundesliga game.
There were no explanations about the operation by the players. “We discussed something internally as a team and we’ll follow up. If something changes, you’ll notice,” Silky said. “They did not agree to the measure,” coach Felix Magath confirmed the boycott in response to the derby scandal, the coach said after his 500th match as a coach in the Bundesliga. Magath said he supported his team’s response: “It’s okay for players to fight back.” Or: to regain their dignity.
We could hear from the team circle that the main reason for the outrage was that the lead singer of Hertha Ultras had asked players to put their shirts on the floor. Despite all the resentment of painful defeats: never throw a T-shirt in dirt, never throw a T-shirt in dirt, but sweat in it. It’s about matters of pride, as a person and as a footballer, which you don’t let anyone take away from you. Therefore, the appointment of the team went beyond simply cutting off contact with the fans. It also led Hertha’s players to tear themselves up over the jersey – much to the chagrin of Stuttgart residents on Sunday.
Their sporting director, Sven Mislintat, complained that VFB could only win 30 percent of all duels in the first 30 minutes of the match. Not understanding that his team had “fallen into a passive state” after an early 1-0 lead (4th minute), Magath “brought Stuttgart into the match” and even made them a better team. But the Hertha coach also praised the fact that his team “did not allow much in the penalty area” due to “a great fight and a great commitment”.
This was due to the work of the Berlin midfielders Lucas Tousart, Santi Ascassibar and Vladimir Darrida, who jointly served the center with Hertha’s defenders. The trembling of Berliners did not sound quite as much as Magath suggested in the match. Stuttg’s quarters lacked the ideas to turn their possession of the ball into jeopardy. And in injury time, Herta’s tensions, if any, were gone. Substitute Isaac Belvodel made it 2-0 (93 minutes) with Permat’s superb six-yard solo, to the cheers of most of the 54,000 spectators.
With this major victory, Hertha extended his lead over VfB – and thus the relegation center 16 – to four points; With three open games. Armenia Bielefeld penultimate is now six buffer points. Magath emphasized that “not much has happened” in the schedule, but the situation for Hertha has improved a bit at best. But perhaps this was a statement of a tactical nature. Instead of Magath, he’d say the same after the win, Mislintat explained.
“They can be angry,” said Stuttgart Meslintatt’s sporting director of frustrated VFB fans.
Stuttgerbetter feuded with frustrated fans after the match. However, the situation around the VfB block has not escalated as it did at Hertha after the derby. This made it easier for deeply frustrated coach Pellegrino Matarazzo to express his understanding to the fans (“You can get angry, too”). Mislentat also said: “The fans were in full support the whole time. They did a great job. They can be angry.”
At Hertha, it is clear that they hope to reconcile the fans and the players as soon as possible. Magath said he was counting on an early rapprochement and that we had to “fight against relegation together”. After all, the second-tier scenario is becoming less likely: a win on Saturday in the next head-to-head duel in Bielefeld would actually prevent a direct relegation. If Stuttgart also loses to Wolfsburg, Hertha will be saved. It is likely that this will also be celebrated with fans.