Maximilian Mittelstädt (l.) believes new coach Bruno Labbadia (r.) has restored the fight to Hertha Berlin as they now look up to Europe instead of down to relegation. - © imago images / Poolfoto
Maximilian Mittelstädt (l.) believes new coach Bruno Labbadia (r.) has restored the fight to Hertha Berlin as they now look up to Europe instead of down to relegation. - © imago images / Poolfoto
bundesliga

Maximilian Mittelstädt: Hertha Berlin "fighting for one another" under Bruno Labbadia

Hertha Berlin have become a tight-knit unit once more under new head coach Bruno Labbadia, according to left-back Maximilian Mittelstädt and goalkeeper Rune Jarstein.

Hertha made it four games without defeat under Labbadia when they beat Augsburg 2-0 on Matchday 29 thanks to goals from Javairo Dilrosun and Krzysztof Piatek.

The result might have been different were it not for veteran Norwegian Jarstein, who tipped a blistering Marco Richter strike on to the bar with a minute of normal time to play.

Polish substitute Piatek then broke clear in injury-time to net his third Bundesliga goal, one which made sure that Hertha have taken 10 points from a possible 12 on Labbadia’s watch.

“We’re playing as a team – everyone is fighting for one another,” said Mittelstädt, after what was only Hertha’s fifth win in 15 home games this season.

“We’re taking on Bruno Labbadia’s ideas very well, and we’re working very well together as a team. That’s what was missing in previous weeks.”

Watch: Piatek: “We work hard”

When 54-year-old Labbadia replaced Alexander Nouri - the club's third coach of the season after Jürgen Klinsmann and Ante Covic - in April, Hertha were still a little worried about being dragged into a relegation fight. Now, though, they find themselves ninth in the table and looking to play down talk of making up enough ground to qualify for European competition next season.

The capital club are only four points behind sixth-placed Wolfsburg , but Jarstein insists they are taking it “game by game” rather than dreaming of Europe. The 35-year-old clearly feels, however, that Labbadia has already given the club a new lease of life.

“Things are going really well with the new coach,” Jarstein said. “We understand his thinking and have become a team again.”

Hertha have looked a sharp and hungry side since Labbadia arrived, and a dominant showing in the first half against Augsburg could have been rewarded with more than a one-goal half-time lead. The second period was less impressive, but the home team showed character – and got a slice of luck – to hold on for another victory.

Labbadia admitted that “the tank was completely empty” for his players in the second half. With a reputation as a firefighter – having steered VfB Stuttgart, Hamburg and Wolfsburg away from relegation trouble in the past – he is now looking to emulate what he achieved last year.

Having saved them from the drop via a relegation play-off in 2017/18, the former Bayern Munich, Cologne and Werder Bremen striker led the Wolves to UEFA Europa League qualification a year later.

“We’ve taken 10 points at a really important time,” said Labbadia, who has also guided Hertha to big wins over Hoffenheim and Union Berlin as well as a draw with fourth-placed RB Leipzig.

“You could never have expected to get 10 points from these games.”

Now that his side has, however, Labbadia will hope the Old Lady continue picking up momentum over the final five games of the campaign – starting with the Matchday 30 trip to face Borussia Dortmund.