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Germany: Bundesliga
6 - 0
(3 - 0)
RB Leipzig
Hertha BSC
C. Nkunku (16), Y. Poulsen (23), N. Mukiele (45), E. Forsberg (60), C. Nkunku (70), A. Haidara (77)

Dardai commits to keeping back-five: "We're not testing lab-rats."

By Peter Weis   @PeterVicey

Even as the seemingly endless injuries to his defensive ranks keep forcing him to call up more youth academy players, Hertha BSC head-coach Pal Dardai remains committed to playing with a back-five.
Pal Dardai.
Pal Dardai.Photo: Football.ua/Creative Commons/CC-by-SA 3.0
Jordan Torunarigha. Lukas Klünter. Marvin Plattenhardt. Now captain Dedryck Boyata. Thanks to the fact that they've played arguably the league's two worst teams over the past two weeks, Berlin's Charlottenburg football club have pulled themselves off their position at the bottom-of-the-table with six points from the last two match-days.

Whilst the points allow Hertha to climb the table, however, veteran defenders appear to be dropping like flies. Thanks to injuries to all the players listed about, 17-year-old Linus Gechter has been forced to come off the bench in two consecutive matches. Dardai has also been forced to use his son Marton even thought the 19-year-old is far from fully fit coming off his own injury.

This week the club had to call up two more defenders from the reserves for the senior squad training sessions. Both teenager Christalino Atemona and lower league journeyman Cimo Röcker (a 27-year-old brought in this year to tutor the reserves) will make Dardai's bench squad against Leipzig this week.

Either one of the duo could even start as Hertha's Hungarian trainer needs five defenders for his constellation.

"The guys feel more confident in a back-five. We cannot experiment. With the back-four, we conceded a lot of goals," Dardai noted at his Thursday presser, "Hertha is not a laboratory in which we can test lab-rats. We've now won two games in a row. Defensively it's been very good. There were no real chaotic moments. That's good for the lads. So long as it works, we'll play with a five-man backfield."

When it comes to the state of players plugged into this set-up, both Dardai and sporting director Arne Friedrich told members of the assembled press that they thought new players could perform with enough collective support surrounding them.

"Special circumstances can also be opportunities," Friedrich said on Thursday, "Linus Gechter has come into the team and performed brilliantly. Our coaching team always has the courage to throw young players in. We will always have solutions. The squad is big enough."

"We have a great youth department," Friedrich continued, "You can see that the young players are ready when they're called upon. That's the kind of quality we have here at Hertha."

Friedrich also noted that he felt the team was "growing into" their formation. Dardai spoke of a "disciplined and hard working side" and even brought up the time he went to Leipzig and won with ten-men during the 2017/18 campaign.

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