Sunday, November 29, 2009

Hertha BSC – SC Heerenveen (22-10-2009)

I had to be in Berlin for work, so I made sure I would be able to catch a couple of games. Although Hertha BSC wasn’t very high on my list, I find it a rather colorless team, when I found out they played a Europa League game against the Dutch SC Heerenveen, I had to go. As both teams are having a terrible season, being at the bottom in their respective divisions, I knew the game would be far from sold out. So, I took the S-Bahn from Berlin-Mitte and arrived roughly 30 minutes before kick-off at the Olympiastadion. After some difficulty I found my colleague R., a Spanish football fan of Dutch descent, and we bought tickets for €16.00.

The Olympic Stadion was built for the aborted 1916 Summer Olympics and became infamous during Nazi Germany. It has rebuild several times, most recently for the 2006 World Cup. I had actually visited once earlier, in 1986, to see my Borussia Mönchengladbach win the DFB-Pokal against VFL Wolfsburg (the last time they won anything major).

Today the beautiful Olympiastadion holds an impressive 74,500 people. Unfortunately, it mainly sells out for games of Die Mannschaft, the German national team, not for the always underperforming Hertha BSC. This game was particularly badly attended: only 13,194 came, which included roughly 1,000 away fans (the only ones singing). From the beginning the home fans seemed resigned for yet another disappointment, which they also received.

After more than 30 minutes of subpar football, in which Hertha might have had a bit more of the bal, but the only semi-chances came from Heerenveen, the only great play of the game happened. And intelligently executed attack over 4-5 different players was beautifully finished by Losada: 0-1 for Heerenveen. The people around us now became even more boisterous, whistling their own team and complaining loudly about the players and coach.

After scoring a couple of cooked sausages, together with the happy Frisians (the away fans), we got back to our seats. The second half was even worse, even though a Heerenveen player was sent off more than 15 minutes before the end. Despite being one man up, Hertha couldn’t even dominate, let alone create clear chances.

As my Spanish friend was freezing his ass off – ok, it was cold, but most locals were surviving fairly easily – the home fans could hardly muster the energy to complain and whistle. By the time the referee whistled for the last time, only few still took the time to express their dissatisfaction. Most simply went home, like us.

Although the Olympiastadion is certainly worth a visit, Hertha BSC is a soulless club with a non-distinct fan base. I am happy to be able to scratch them off my list, and look forward to seeing the other teams in Berlin.

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