Hertha BSC 1-0 VFB Stuttgart

Posted on August 27, 2011

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HERTHA BERLIN secured their first win of the season with a 1-0 victory over VFB Stuttgart at the Olympiastadion.

Raffael scored the decisive goal four minutes from time after he headed home Stefan Ebert’s cross from the right-hand side.

The Berliners racked up their first victory of the campaign after two draws and a defeat in the opening three weekends of the season.

Markus Babbel made two changes to the starting eleven after last week’s draw with Hannover 96 in the Bundesliga.

Young striker Pierre Lassoga started in favour of Tunay Torun in attack and Maik Franz was replaced by Roman Hubnik in central-defence.

It has been a frustrating start to the season for the Bundesliga ‘newbies’ with two draws from the first three matches of the campaign.

Frustrating is the word that could be used to describe VfB Stuttgart’s start to the season after an excellent victory over Schalke 04 on the opening day. Since then, Stuttgart have lost one, last weekend against Leverkusen, and drawn the other.

Stuttgart’s head coach Bruno Labbadia also made two changes to the team with Khalid Boulahrouz replaced by Stefano Celozzi at right-back and Shinji Okazaki starting in place of Christian Gentner who find himself on the bench.

Labbadia stuck by his 4-2-3-1 formation but there was a slight adaptation with Japanese striker Okazaki playing closer to Cacau than Gentner would from a wide position.

Hertha 1-0 Stuttgart: 90 minutes

Stefan Ebert was ‘all-action’ for the Berliners and was involved in most of Hertha’s best chances in the opening 10 minutes.

On 12 minutes, he should have done better from Raffael’s near-post corner but Ebert’s header went over the crossbar.

Labbadia’s men burst in to life just before the half hour mark with two excellent chances to open the scoring. Shinji Okazaki had a header from Celozzi’s cross which had beaten Thomas Kraft, but not the crossbar.

Stuttgart couldn’t put the ball in the net after Hajnal’s shot from the edge of the box was parried by Kraft and neither Okazaki or Cacau could convert the loose ball.

On the stroke of the interval, Ebert again tried to test Stefan Ulreich and his shot from the right-hand side of the box hit the side netting.

Both teams improved going forward after the break and either side squandered a number of good chances in the first 15 minutes of the half.

Stuttgart started on the front-foot and William Kvist could have done better with his low drive from 25 yards which went past Kraft’s right-hand post.

Andre Mijatovic was always a threat from Stefan Ebert’s set-plays and the Hertha skipper headed wide on 54 minutes.

And Hertha continued to test Stuttgart keeper Stefan Ulreich with Ramos heading in to the youngster’s arms. The Reds were under the cosh and had to thank William Kvist for preventing a goal from Hertha when he cleared off the line from Raffael’s header.

Despite a few chances for the visitors which Pavel Pogrebnyak couldn’t convert, Labbadia’s side were unable to stop Hertha going in front on 86 minutes with Raffael heading in from Ebert’s cross.

A gallant late effort from Stuttgart was in vain and they will be ruing another inconsistent display from them.

Hertha: Masters of the late goal

It’s becoming a clear pattern in Hertha’s play.

I’m sure if you asked Markus Babbel he would rather be in front before the last 10 minutes of a match.

The season didn’t start too well for the Bundesliga.2 champions with a 1-0 home defeat to FC Nurnberg – ironically, losing a late goal. But things have looked up since then with some very disciplined performances.

The first point for the Berliners came in Hamburg after they came from behind on two occasions to pile more pressure on Michael Oenning. Andre Mijatovic headed home the equaliser on 88 minutes to cancel out goals from Petric and Son in the first-half.

In week three, Hertha were up against an impressive Hannover side who finished fourth in the Bundesliga last season. Sergio Pinto had put the hosts ahead and Babbel had to wait until the last 10 minutes for Pierre Lassoga to fire home the equalising goal.

Stuttgart: Inconsistency from Labbadia’s attackers

What a change three weeks can make in the Bundesliga.

Most pundits had tipped Stuttgart to enjoy a stable campaign in the league and possibly, challenge for a UEFA Europa League place.

They were up against a much-fancied Schalke side that had just come off the back of the Super Cup win over Borussia Dortmund.

No doubt about it, Stuttgart looked the far better team on the opening day with a 3-0 victory for the home side.

However, since then, Stuttgart have drawn and lost two of their matches. I suppose you could say that the draw in Gladbach against an in-form side was a point gained rather than two points lost.

Defensively, Labbadia’s side are fairly decent. Despite losing one goal in their each of their last three games, the back four of Celozzi, Tasci, Maza and Molinaro with young Ulreich in goal has proved to have been very solid for VFB so far.

And with William Kvist and Zdravko Kuzmanovic just in front, they have two dynamic and decent midfielders.

But their fate comes from the performances of the attackers. Cacau is the main frontman and on form, is a very good player for Stuttgart. He has even managed to work his way in to Joachim Loew’s national side and was rewarded with a new contract last season.

One of the most impressive things about their play is the link-up play between Martin Harnik, Tamas Hajnal and Christian Gentner with the German international striker. Harnik and Hajnal, in particular, have had decent starts to the season and Harnik was terrific for VFB last term.

With so much talent there, there unfortunately is a huge inconsistency problem with the attackers. Cacau can be wasteful at times in front of goal, like against Hertha, and Gentner is ineffective when marked closely. In Berlin, Labbadia made the decision to drop Gentner for Okazaki which didn’t necessarily work out for Stuttgart.

MOTM: Stefan Ebert (Hertha BSC)

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Posted in: Matches