What do you say at the start of a week where the highlight from a Hertha point of view is not Easter, but the Berlin Derby against rivals Union? Pál Dárdai cleared things up for us on Tuesday: “The lads don’t need any extra motivation - it’s a derby! We are playing for the fans and for our reputation. But we are taking that attitude into every game between now and the end of the season,” said the head coach ahead of Sunday’s showdown (04/04/21, 18:00 CEST). “We won two must-win games against Augsburg and Leverkusen. The lads are positive and are doing a good job. The atmosphere in the dressing room is good. I hope that they get a taste for it and see what is possible with a good team spirit.”
The week’s training began on an optimistic note, but still with the necessary focus at all times. The lads got to work in beautiful sunshine, with temperatures of around 20 degrees. The boss led the way in a 90 minute session at Schenckendorffplatz. It wasn’t just the heat that ensured that Niklas Stark and co. were working up a sweat, even if a fairly ‘friendly’ session was on the cards. “We did a lot of work with the ball: passing and then futsal and football tennis. The lads ought to be in a good mood after having the weekend off,” said the head coach, who was pleased with his boys’ efforts.
[>]The lads don’t need any extra motivation - it’s a derby! We are playing for the fans and for our reputation.[<]
Khedira back in team training
Sami Khedira was able to enjoy his comeback to training after overcoming a muscle injury. This Sunday’s clash would be his first taste of Berlin Derby action. “I’m happy to be back. I already worked hard last week and now my first team session has gone well too. We will see what the coach has planned,” said our number 28. The coach remained tight-lipped with several days remaining before the tie. “He moved well, everything looked good. Now comes the hard work and we will see how far along he is, how his body is doing,” said Dárdai of the 2014 World Cup winner.
The ten international players who were absent from training last week remained out of action at Schenkendorffplatz. “Obviously we are all in close contact. It’s good that lots of potential starting options have remained here in Berlin. Everything is fine,” said Hertha’s record appearance-maker when asked about Rune Jarstein, Dedryck Boyata, Peter Pekarík, Deyovaisio Zeefuik, Vladimír Darida, Mattéo Guendouzi, Santiago Ascacíbar, Javairô Dilrosun, Nemanja Randonjić and Krzysztof Piątek. Luca Netz will be out for the rest of the season after fracturing a metatarsal in his foot. Eduard Löwen returned to go through some reps with fitness coach Hendrik Vieth. "Every day he gets a bit closer to training with the team,” said Dárdai.
The Old Lady should get all of the international players back by Thursday at the latest, and Dárdai wants to approach the game with attention to detail, passion and desire, but also the relaxed mindset that is so necessary in hotly-contested clashes. "It's good that we're playing on Sunday. We will have tactical training all together on Friday before the final session on Saturday," said the head coach, who is going into his first derrby in the hot seat. "Our exchanges with Union were always good and fair, and that's the way it should remain. We want to write derby history over the years to come and create something special. It's a good thing to have two Berlin teams in the Bundesliga," he explained.
A fair derby with a clear goal
Regardless of the opposition on Easter Sunday, the priority is to get more points in the fight against relegation at the 'Alten Försterei', after a win in the home match against Union earlier this season. As Dárdai summed up in his digital press conference: "We will work hard this week to go into the derby with a positive feeling and plenty of courage. We will give everything to win."