Lesser-fancied European Teams to watch this season #1 - Hertha BSC
With the new European football season around the corner, here is one team from the German Bundesliga you may want to keep an eye on.
Hertha BSC, one of the two Berlin teams this season in the Bundesliga, for the first time ever, with the promotion of their city rivals 1.FC Union Berlin last season. It has been a summer of change for the blue and whites known as die Alte Dame, as former manager Pal Dardai and replaced him with U23 manager Ante Čović as first team boss.
In terms of transfers, they have resigned midfielder Marko Grujić on loan for another season from Liverpool after an impressive and consistent first season at the Olympiastadion, where he featured 23 times and scoring 5 goals, with an average match rating of 7.26 according to Whoscored.com. They also bolstered their defensive midfield with the signing of Eduard Löwen from 1.FC Nürnberg, but the eye-opening transfer is the signing of Belgian international Dedryck Boyata from Celtic. Boyata who played in all of Belgium's group stage games en route to the semi-finals and won every domestic trophy in the heart of Celtic's defence.
This signing could reduce the amount of goals die Alte Dame conceded last season as they conceded 57 goals which is not good enough for any team pushing for Europe,where only Bayer Leverkusen in 4th conceded more than 50 goals last season.
Hertha also have captured a young starlet from Chelsea, forward Daishawn Redan on a permanent basis. However they have sold one of their key players in Valentino Lazaro to Inter Milan. The Austrian winger had the most assists for Hertha with 6, which is a blow to the goal scoring part of the game. However the reported £20 million fee could be used on Watford's Dodi Lukebakio. The man from Watford, who spent last season on loan at Fortuna Düsseldorf where he famously scoring a hat-trick against Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena in the 3-3 draw, as well as 14 goals overall.
Hertha desperately need to boost their attacking options as only two players scored more than 10 goals last season in captain Vedad Ibišević and playmaker Ondrej Duda.
So why follow Hertha this season? Last season was not their strongest, finishing 11th, especially when at one point in the season they were in the top 3. The team want to build from simply surviving the league, after all they did qualify for the Europa League two seasons ago and in the Bundesliga, the race for European football traditionally goes to the final day of the season. The gap between 4th placed Bayer Leverkusen, the Champions League place and 9th placed Hoffenheim, who didn't qualify, was only 7 points, so it is easy to lose it all.
Hertha possess players such as the experienced Salomon Kalou, who after the disappointment of the African Cup of Nations may want to try beat his best goal tally in a Hertha shirt of 17. There is also tricky Slovakian playmaker Ondrej Duda, who was the star of the season for Hertha with 10 goals and 6 assists. And if the new signing of Boyata fits in well with the ever present Niklas Stark in the heart of defence, Hertha could sneak their way into European football this season.
However no matter what happens in terms of league position, history will be made this season with the first top flight Berlin derby happening. Union vs Hertha will be a spectacle and whether it is Union or Hertha you support, it will be an unforgettable season for the Berlin teams.