“They will never be the number one in Berlin,” fumed Hertha midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng on Saturday afternoon (ZDF).
Whether Boateng wants to admit it or not, the Bundesliga table tells a very different story. While an expensively assembled Hertha side are glancing nervously over their shoulders at the dreaded drop zone, their rivals to the west are threatening to upset the apple cart once again.
Union Berlin, historically the city’s poor relations, caused a major surprise while finishing seventh in Germany’s top flight last season, qualifying for Europe for the very first time in their history.
Sitting fifth after 12 games of the new campaign – just two points off third-place Freiburg – and the prospect of that iconic Champions League anthem rippling through the trees at the ‘Old Forester’s House’ is starting to feel like a very real possibility.
Especially with one of the most prolific strikers in the league leading the line for Urs Fischer’s merry band of coupon-busting overachievers.
Should Liverpool have kept hold of Taiwo Awoniyi?
Awoniyi, a £5.5 million signing from Liverpool in July, scored his eighth in just 12 Bundesliga matches this term during Saturday’s 2-1 derby victory over their deep-pocketed neighbours Hertha – a scoreline which really doesn’t reflect the gulf in quality between a side put together on a shoestring budget and one containing a trio of Germany internationals, a £20 million midfielder and AC Milan’s one-time number nine.
With his 13th of the season – and his 17th in the Bundesliga overall if you include last season’s loan spell in Berlin – Awoniyi has now overtaken team-mate Max Kruse as the most prolific top-flight goalscorer in Union’s entire history.
“It doesn’t matter who scores. For me, I score so that the team can be successful,” Awoniyi said after the game, via Soccernet.
Kevin-Prince Boateng could learn a thing or two from Awoniyi about the art of humility.
Denied the chance to make his mark on Merseyside due to work permit problems, Awoniyi appears to have found a loving home at Union Berlin after a series of hit-and-miss loan spells.