With five goals in 10 Bundesliga appearances, Stevan Jovetic has helped ensure 11th-placed Hertha Berlin head into 2022 with a welcome cushion on the relegation zone.
bundesliga.com reviews how the Old Lady fared during the first half of 2021/22...
The story so far
Hertha lost their first three Bundesliga fixtures of the season, but recorded four wins across their next six. Pal Dardai lost his job as head coach on the back of a four-match winless slide, arrested in successor Tayfun Korkut's only second game in charge. A heavy 4-0 loss to Mainz was followed by a shock win over Borussia Dortmund that lifted the capital club to within three points of the top half, and four clear of the relegation play-off spot.
It stands to reason Hertha would be a lot closer to the top six, had Jovetic not missed seven matches through injury. The Montenegrin became only the second player in history to score in each of Europe's five major leagues on his Bundesliga debut, but didn't add to his tally until Matchday 11. A further three goals across back-to-back games against VfB Stuttgart and Arminia Bielefeld put him joint level in the Hertha scoring charts, alongside Marco Richter, albeit with a superior strike rate. The former Fiorentina, Manchester City, Inter Milan, Sevilla and Monaco forward is averaging a goal every 109 minutes in the German top tier.
Best game so far
Without the services of the injured Jovetic, Hertha showed tremendous spirit to fight back from a goal down to beat Dortmund 3-2 in their final outing of 2021. Ishak Belfodil kick-started the turnaround, before Richter put away a well-taken brace to make it a wholly encouraging seven points from a possible 12 since Korkut took charge.
One to watch
Belfodil ended a run of 30 Bundesliga matches without a goal, stretching back to May 2019, with his effort against Dortmund. The Algerian's also produced two assists in four appearances - all starts - under Korkut. If he can stay fit after various injury setbacks, the versatile forward will be confident of reproducing his career-best numbers of 2018/19, when he struck 16 times in 29 games for Hoffenheim.
The view from inside the camp
"We all want to improve. It's about finding consistency and enjoying our football. We also need to work on a few things defensively to improve our chances of winning more games." - head coach Tayfun Korkut
Hertha lost the first Berlin derby of the season, but have two chances to redress the balance, starting in the DFB Cup last 16. A week after facing Union for round three in the Bundesliga, the Old Lady travel to Augsburg. Not a glamour fixture, but a potentially decisive one in the context of staving off any last-minute relegation jitters.
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