Reuters Soccer Blog
World Soccer views and news
As much as Berlin enjoys hosting the German Cup final every year for the badly needed economic stimulus the 75,000 fans bring to the city, watching Bayern Munich celebrate titles on successive Saturdays in Olympiastadion while at the same time knowing their only Bundesliga side, Hertha Berlin, have been banished to the second division might have been just a bit too painful.
Berlin will be the only European capital without even a single club in the top domestic league. It must be hard to imagine Berlin being such a soccer wilderness for those in places like London, where Chelsea just won a domestic double, or other capitals with stacks of top teams to follow.
Bayern’s 4-0 victory over Werder Bremen on Saturday night was the last time the German capital will see top-flight Bundesliga soccer for another year -– until the 2011 Cup final next May. Sadly for Berlin soccer fans, Hertha’s relegation to the Zweite Liga means there will be no Bundesliga football within about 300 km of the capital. Hamburg and Hanover will the nearest Bundesliga towns next season. In fact, there will be no top-flight soccer anywhere in formerly communist East Germany with Energie Cottbus and Hansa Rostock having gone down in previous years.
This sorry state of affairs is compounded by the fact that Bayern Munich -– from the German city probably most loathed in Berlin, an affluent place that is further removed from the ‘poor but sexy’ capital than anywhere else in the country –- have now celebrated two successive titles on their turf in the last week. That is more silverware than Hertha have managed to collect in the last 80 years. Hertha’s last championship season was in back in 1930/31.
What a Bundesliga season! Exciting, fast-paced and at least five teams in the running for the title and believe it or not, Bayern are not top of the table.
But next season may be very different. Many of the league’s top players who have carried their teams into title contention could leave at the end of the campaign.
We’ve already blogged on Hertha Berlin’s surprise win over Bayern Munich at the weekend but I thought I’d mention one more aspect to the game and the result — this was one of those rare occasions when Dieter Hoeness got one over on his more famous brother Uli.
Uli is a year older than Dieter, almost to the day. They both spent most of their playing days at Bayern but their careers were still very different.
Hertha Berlin have found their way to the top of the Bundesliga table for the first time since October 2006 and given their long-suffering fans a faint whiff of championship hopes.
It’s been a very long time since Hertha’s last championship in 1931 and many years since their last Champions League appearance in 2000.