Despite putting in an impressive showing against Brondby in the first leg of their Europa League tie, Hibs will be unlikely to advance to the next round following the 1-0 defeat at Easter Road.
However, bigger upsets have happened with regular occurrence in football over the past year, and Hibs’ players will be buoyed by the prospect of meeting Hertha Berlin in the following round.
Here is everything you need to know about the German side who’ll face Hibs if Neil Lennon’s side can secure a dramatic second leg turnaround.
1. They’ve got 13 international stars
Funnily enough, despite boasting a baker’s dozen of internationalists within their first team squad, none of them are German. They have a host of former German youth internationals but nobody from Hertha has broken into the senior squad at this moment in time.
British football fans will be most familiar with former Chelsea striker Salomon Kalou. He’s netted 23 goals in 65 games since his 2014 move from Lille. His strikes have been supplemented by Bosnian hitman Vedad Ibišević. The pair netted 24 times combined in the Bundesliga last season.
2. Their manager is a former Hertha stalwart
Pál Dárdai is the current Hertha boss and former player, making over 300 appearances in a 14-year stay with the club.
The Hungarian has been widely praised for dragging the team up the table. After suffering relegations in both 2010 and 2012, they looked set to return to Bundesliga II once more in 2014/15 before Dardai was tasked with getting them out of trouble. He managed to save the club that season and saw a significant rise up the table last term, sitting in fourth at one stage before settling for seventh and a spot in the Europa League.
3. Hertha are one of European football’s great underachievers
Or at least that’s how they are perceived. If you look around the major football countries in Europe, almost all of them have a successful team from their capital. But Hertha haven’t won a national league title since the early 1930s. As previously mentioned, they’ve been relegated from the top tier on numerous occasions. In fact, only two other sides have been relegated more from Germany’s top tier. There was once a six-year period in the 1990s when the Bundesliga was the only top league in Europe without a team from its country’s capital.
However, though they’ve failed to match the likes of Dortmund and Bayern Munich, it’s not as surprising when you consider the size of the club. Their attendance numbers last season were the seventh highest attendance in the Bundesliga, despite it being a successful year, while their supporter membership ranks ninth overall. They shouldn’t struggle as much as they do, what with all the relegations, but don’t expect many league titles around the corner.
4. The stadium is full of history (but not a great football arena)
The Olympiastadion is a 75,000-seater stadium that was the venue for one of the most iconic moments in sports - if not human - history. Built for the 1936 Olympics, it was the scene where Jessie Owens, an African-American, showed up Nazi leader Adolf Hitler by winning four gold medals. In modern times, it’s recently hosted both a Champions League and World Cup final.
While it’s great to have a home with so much historical significance attached to it, that doesn’t do Hertha many favours as a club. It’s similar to Hampden Park in its layout, with gradually ascending stands and an athletics track putting significant distance between supporters and the players. Hertha only have an average attendance around half of the capacity as well, meaning there isn’t much of an atmosphere at home matches despite over 30,000 people being inside the stands.
5. They’ve been plagued by a troubled past
Hertha have been relegated on two occasions for bribing scandals. Once in the 1960s and again in the 1970s. The literal splitting of the city between West and East Germany didn’t help the team either, with fans on the eastern side of the Berlin unable to follow their team. Some hardy souls used to go to the Berlin Wall at home games, which was in such proximity to the stadium that you could hear the roar of the crowd, but most went to support East German sides instead, robbing the club of potential generations of fans. They’ve also suffered from severe financial troubles, the most recent of which preceded their 2010 relegation a year after they almost won the title.