The History of the Berlin Derby - Hertha Berlin vs Union Berlin

Grace Crispin

The History of the Berlin Derby - Hertha Berlin vs Union Berlin

Union Berlin’s promotion to the top flight of German football in 2019 made them the fifth team from the capital to compete in the Bundesliga. The Iron Ones joined the list of Tasmania 1900 Berlin, Blau-Weiß Berlin, Tennis Borussia Berlin and their Saturday opponents, Hertha Berlin.

Despite producing the most clubs of any city in Germany, before this weekend, there had only been nine Berlin derbies in Bundesliga history. The match between Union and Hertha in the DFB Pokal this season was their first-ever national cup meeting.

Of all of the clubs Berlin has generated, Hertha have been the most successful. In the history of the Bundesliga, Hertha has competed in 39 of the 59 seasons, the most of any Berlin club. Before the promotion of Union Berlin, Tennis Borussia Berlin were the only other Berlin team to spend more than one season in the top flight.

The Berlin derby is very storied, as the rivalries between the various clubs are also affected by the splitting of Germany during the Cold War. The first recorded Berlin derby was in 1974 between Hertha Berlin and Tennis Borussia Berlin, with Hertha winning 3 - 0 in the Olympiastadion.

However, these can be mostly categorised as West Berlin derbies, as Union Berlin resided in what was East Berlin. The first meeting between Hertha and Union after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1990 attracted over 51,000 fans and acted as a celebration of the reunification of the city.

But, with the reunification of the city, also came the merging of the separate league systems. This saw Hertha, who were a significantly higher level than Union at the time, promoted to the top flight whereas Union found themselves in the new third tier. The economic impacts of the split of Germany were also a constant worry for Union after the reunification.

Despite the history of the city and the two clubs, most fans consider the rivalry mainly manufactured - stating that the rivalry is just a local one rather than one born from the East-West divide during the Cold War.

Hertha’s Troubling Downfall

In the same year as Union Berlin’s promotion to the top level of German football, Hertha Berlin also looked to make big progress in their own football. German entrepreneur Lars Windhorst completed the biggest financial deal that the Bundesliga had ever seen with his €125m investment into the club.

With his massive investment also came big claims from Windhorst who promised Hertha fans that they would become a big-city club like “those in Madrid or London”.

However, in just the two years following this investment, Hertha are closer than ever to relegation. The Old Lady has spent nearly €374m but still finds themselves with a battle to stay in the top flight.

Another aspect of Hertha Berlin’s decline, especially since the investment, is the constant backroom drama. In fact, since 2019, no other Bundesliga club has had more technical changes than Hertha - either from managerial failures or bad behaviour.

In the time since Windhorst’s arrival, there have been six managerial changes. Pal Dardai was sacked shortly before the new investors' arrival, with Ante Covic taking over. His tenure was short-lived as Jurgen Klinsmann replaced him in November 2019. Klinsmann was then swapped out for Alexander Nouri after only three months in charge of The Old Lady. Nouri only survived until April 2020, with Bruno Labbadia taking the managerial role - this time for longer than his predecessors as he lasted until January 2021. Dardai, who had been tossed aside at the start of this new era was then brought back for a ten-month stint in charge. Felix Magath now has the role of head coach and has since March 2022.

Bundesliga Tips

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HERTHA BERLIN VS UNION BERLIN: UNION BERLIN TO WIN & BTTS @ 9/2

Derby Day

28 matches into the Bundesliga season, Union Berlin have the bragging rights across the German capital. The Iron Ones sit in seventh in the league, just three points below Hoffenheim in the Europa Conference League qualifying spot.

The Old Lady has not fared as well. Despite having never finished below another Berlin club in their history before the 2020/21 season, they now find themselves in 17th place but only one point from safety.

Hertha and Union have only met five times in the Bundesliga, with the records level, as Hertha and Union both have two wins to their name, with the single draw coming in the 2020/21 season.

However, the final encounter between the two before Saturday came in a Round of 16 tie in the DFB-Pokal where Union beat The Old Lady 3 - 2.

Hertha have four losses in their last five games, with the one win coming in an impressive 3 - 0 victory over sixth-placed Hoffenheim. In fact, the win over Hoffenheim is The Old Lady’s only win in 2022.

Union have two wins and a draw in their last five games, their last game being a 1 - 0 win over Koln. This win took The Iron Ones a point ahead of Koln in the league.

Hertha have only scored 30 goals in their 28 Bundesliga appearances this season, with Union only slightly better on 34 goals in 28 appearances. Union also boasts a better defensive record with seven clean sheets to Hertha’s six. Overall, despite their somewhat similar statistics, the two Berlin clubs land at opposite ends of the table.


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