Last night saw the third Berlin derby between Hertha and Union since the latter were promoted to the top flight in 2019. The first one last season was a major occasion, with both sets of fans in “high spirits” as the game was interrupted for 10 minutes as they competed with each other for the most spectacular pyro show.
Last night’s game was inevitably less dramatic, at least on the terraces, as the match was played at an empty Olympic Stadium. Union Berlin entered the match on an unbeaten run of four games, which had taken them up into the giddy heights (for them) of a Europa League qualifying spot, whilst Hertha‘s form had been a bit more patchy and they were still looking for their first home victory.
Things were going according to the form book at half-time, as Union led 1-0 through Amoniyi, although they were reduced to 10 men when Andrich raised a high boot in the 23rd minute. Hertha coach Labbadia used two of his substitutes at half-time to re-energise his team and these had an immediate effect as Pekarik equalised in the 51st minute. The game was relatively even, despite Union being numerically inferior, until Piatek scored in the 69th and 77th minutes to give Hertha an unassailable lead. They could have scored again not long before the final whistle but Piatek missed a great opportunity to claim a hat trick.
Union, whose main priority remains staying in the Bundesliga, now have an injury worry about their top scorer, Max Kruse, who went down just before the end of the match. However the club can be sure of a place in the hearts of the nation‘s football fans, unlike their cross city rivals. As one commentator on the Kicker Facebook thread said yesterday “Union is a club which manages to earn affection throughout the country and beyond because of their fan culture. Hertha though, although it pains me to say it, is a grey mouse that nobody cares about. No one particularly likes Hertha, but no one really has a problem with them either, they are just indifferent to them, no matter how much they try and and change that”. A perfect summary of the difference between the two clubs in Germany’s capital.