Gelsenkirchen – Hertha Berlin claimed all three points with a 2-0 win against Schalke at the VELTINS-Arena. Ondrej Duda put the visitors ahead seconds after Daniel Galigiuri’s early penalty miss, bagging his brace late on with a curling free kick after Yevhen Komoplyanka was sent off.
The victory put’s Pal Dardai’s side level with Bayern Munich and Wolfsburg after consecutive victories. Schalke suffered their second straight defeat in a disappointing display with some soul searching to do in the international break.
Five talking points from another interesting Bundesliga clash:
Hertha capitalise on penalty miss
Schalke were presented with a glorious opportunity to take the lead early on after referee Sascha Stegemann awarded the home side a penalty. Daniel Galigiuri stepped up but shot wide and his miss was swiftly punished. Javairo Dilrosun set up Ondrej Duda who scored within seconds to put Hertha 1-0 up.
From then on it was always going to be tough for Tedesco’s men to break down an organised and well drilled Hertha side and so it proved. The Berlin club slowed the game down and were content to sit back and play on the counter attack, adding to their lead with Duda’s delightful free kick in added time.
Pal Dardai deserves praise
They might not be the most aesthetically pleasing side to watch but Hertha can certainly be effective at preserving an advantage. Pal Dardai has turned his team into a hard working unit that are tactically disciplined and able to execute a well devised game plan.
Hertha finished 10th last campaign after consecutive seasons in the top seven. There is every reason to believe that they can break back into the top half of the table and threaten for a return to Europe.
Dardai has proved himself to be highly effective as a tactician and man manager. Despite his long history and love for the Berlin club, there could be opportunities coming his way from clubs that are regular top four contenders.
Room for improvement
Hertha have a team full of promising young talent that have every opportunity to improve under Dardai. Director of Sport Michael Preetz has assembled a quality squad with depth in every position that shouldn’t be greatly affected by injuries or suspensions.
Their central defensive options are all young with high upside in Karim Rekik (23), Niklas Stark (23) and Jordan Torunarigha (21). Midfielders Arne Maier (19) and Ondrej Duda (23) are set for breakout seasons while Marko Grujic (22) could be a valuable addition on loan from Liverpool.
Javairô Dilrosun (20) may prove to be one of the best transfers of the season, Valentino Lazaro (22) has started the season on fire with Davie Selke (23) and Pascal Köpke (22) to put pressure on 34 year-old striker Vedad Ibisevic.
Tough match up for McKennie
Weston McKennie had a positive debut season for Schalke and has established himself as an international player for the United States. Primarily playing as a central midfielder, the recently turned 20-year-old started on the right side of a back three due to Matija Nastasic’s suspension and Benjamin Stambouli’s injury.
Hertha’s Javairo Dilrosun replaced the injured Karim Rekik in the opening minutes and the former Ajax and Manchester City winger immediately got to work on McKennie. Dilrosun won an early 1 on 1 duel that amounted to nothing, but minutes later a repeat performance saw Dilrosun race past McKennie and square to Duda who put Hertha ahead.
McKennie looked lost in an unfamiliar position and despite Domenico Tedesco’s sideline instructions, the Schalke manager abandoned the formation midway through the first half and moved McKennie into midfield. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and if Tedesco had his time again he may have started this match with a back four.
Tedesco magic fading?
Countless times last season Tedesco realised his starting formation wasn’t having the desired effect, changing things midway through matches and more often than not turning things in his sides favour. The most memorable example was the 4-4 draw at Borussia Dortmund in November when Schalke overturned a 4-0 half-time deficit.
The 32-year-old manager was deservedly praised last season for guiding Die Königsblauen to second position and a return to the Champions League. It’s early days in the new campaign and too early to jump to conclusions, but is there reason to wonder if opposition managers might have devised ways to counteract Tedesco’s preferred 3-4-2-1 formation?
Perhaps a clue was given by Tedesco post-match, saying “We will carry on doing what we are good at, and we will forget about trying things that we can’t do. I take full responsibility for the things that didn’t go right today.”