Kevin-Prince Boateng and Stevan Jovetic are among the new arrivals at the Olympiastadion this summer as Hertha Berlin look to propel themselves back up the Bundesliga table in 2021/22.
Hertha got 2020/21 off to the perfect start by dismantling Werder Bremen 4-1 on Matchday 1, but any hope that their opening victory would lead to a sustained push at the top of the table quickly evaporated. Subsequent, successive defeats to Eintracht Frankfurt, Bayern Munich, VfB Stuttgart and RB Leipzig emphatically ensured that, setting the tone for a season of struggles for Bruno Labbadia's side.
By January, former club captain Pal Dardai had replaced Labbadia for his second stint in charge, having previously been head coach from 2015-2019. The two-time German champions went on to win four games, draw on six occasions and lose the remaining six of their 16 games under Dardai. Crucially, they ended the season above the parapet thanks to just two defeats from their final 11 matchdays, closing out the campaign in 14th place - two points clear of the relegation play-off spot and four ahead of the automatic drop.
Watch: Hertha began 2020/21 with a 4-1 win over Bremen
The retirement of Sami Khedira and departures of Jhon Cordoba and Mathew Leckie meant there was even more need to recruit this summer as Hertha aim to pull themselves clear of a relegation battle this time around. And they moved quickly, with the return of hometown boy Kevin-Prince Boateng not just a romantic move but also a practical one, as the 34-year-old replaces the experience of Khedira in midfield.
Elsewhere, Suat Serdar's signing from Schalke adds even more quality to the team, with the 24-year-old Germany international somewhat of a coup for the capital club. Jovetic has been recruited in attack and has already shown what he's capable off by hitting a debut brace in the pre-season victory over English Premier League side Liverpool, while the return of David Selke from his spell at Bremen, combined with the signing of Marco Richter from Augsburg, further bolsters the Hertha ranks.
How might Hertha line up?
What to expect
For a team that had the likes of Santiago Ascacibar, Matheus Cunha, Dodi Lukebakio, Krzysztof Piatek and Lucas Tousart in its squad, Hertha underperformed in 2020/21. With their new additions, they have a litany of top talent at their disposal and plenty of reasons to suggest that they will avoid as much of a struggle this time out.
In an ideal world, Hertha would like to end the term with a sixth or seventh-place finish - just as they did in 2016/17 and 2015/16 under Dardai during his first spell in charge. Although that's not out of the question, Hertha fans will likely set more tempered expectations and a year without relegation concerns and a top-half finish would be a major improvement on last term. And after avoiding the embarrassment of a second straight first-round elimination in the DFB Cup, Berliner romantics would like to see a run in that competition as the club seeks its maiden cup triumph, with the final played at their home ground.
DFB Cup: SV Meppen 0-1 Hertha
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Hertha vs. Greuther Fürth (Friday, 17 September)
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