Over the past three seasons, has there been a better place for Bayern Munich to play than the Olympiastadion?
In their home away from home, Bayern have won two German Cups and have clinched a German championship, and have dominated Hertha Berliner SC in the Bundesliga. The only loss they have suffered in the German capital is a 2-5 loss to Dortmund in the DFB-Pokal final, a result that helped kick-start a multi-year campaign of domestic and international dominance.
Now they return coming off of their first loss of the season, about to take on a team that made a strong statement against 1. FC Köln the week before. Both bouts a year ago were hard-fought affairs for both sides, even though the inevitable result eventually came about. Pep Guardiola and Jos Luhukay have the tactical acumen to make this another intriguing spectacle, even if the result is predetermined.
The Match (65th Meeting)
Location: Olympiastadion, Berlin, Germany
Head: Christian Dingert
FC Bayern: 4 W, 1 D, 0 L – 8 YC
Assistants: Tobias Christ, Arne Aarnink
Fourth Official: Bastian Dankert
Time converter at worldtimebuddy.com
Television and Streaming:
US: GolTV, One World Sports
Germany: Sky Bundesliga 3 | HD, SkyGo
FC Bayern: LWWWW
Hertha BSC: WLLLW
Bundesliga: 33 W, 16 D, 9 L
DFB Pokal: 2 W, 0 D, 1 L
Ligapokal: 2 W, 0 D, 1 L
Largest Victory: 6-0 (Bundesliga: March 17, 2012, Berlin)
Largest Defeat: 1-4 (Bundesliga: February 1, 1975, Berlin)
Bayern are in a very unfamiliar position going into this match day, coming off of their first loss of the season midweek to Manchester City. Road fixtures have not been kind to them this season, for all six points they have dropped have come away from the Allianz.
Though the result did not end positively, the performance to take away from the match was still one to smile about. The Rekordmeister spent over an hour down a man, and it took the Citizens until the end of the match to finally blow the doors down. The dominance truly extends beyond the 11 that take the field week in and week out, and the only problem seems to be getting personnel the playing time they crave.
In the week that David Alaba and Philipp Lahm have been absent from the team, Pep Guardiola has fielded two very different looking teams. He squeezed as many attackers as he could on the field opposite Hoffenheim, a formation that did not do a well enough job holding the ball. Then he put out a more conservative midfield setup against Manchester City, but his schemes changed after 27 minutes when Bayern went down to 10.
The only guarantee this week seems to be that Mario Götze and Thomas Müller – who sat midweek in favor of Sebastian Rode and Pierre-Emile Højbjerg – will return to the starting XI. What team sheet Guardiola crafts is truly unpredictable, which makes it a headache for anyone who tries to assemble a team across from Bayern at the moment.
Projected Lineup (4-2-3-1):
Franck Ribéry – Mario Götze – Thomas Müller
Xabi Alonso – Sebastian Rode
Juan Bernat – Jérôme Boateng – Mehdi Benatia – Rafinha
Bench: Leopold Zingerle, Dante, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, Gianluca Gaudino, Arjen Robben, Xherdan Shaqiri
Out/Suspended: David Alaba (knee), Thiago Alcantara (knee), Holger Badstuber (thigh), Philipp Lahm (ankle), Javi Martínez (knee), Pepe Reina (calf), Tom Starke (ankle)
Hertha BSC is chugging along even though some front office malfunction has nearly pushed them off the tracks. Bayern alumni and former Berlin managers Markus Babbel and Dieter Hoeneß recently came out and criticized some club officials, but whatever turmoil there is has not stopped the club from becoming a sneaky opponent
Currently 13th in the table, Hertha BSC is not securely locked in the middle of the pack quite yet. Jos Luhukay has extracted a lot out of a squad without much promise, tactically maneuvering his setup to get the results that his club needs. Their 2-1 win against promotion surprise Köln ended a table skid, but those results need to come more frequently being just three points above the relegation zone.
Most of Hertha BSC’s productivity comes through runs on the flanks, Änis Ben-Hatira and Roy Beerens two of the main catalysts in attack. The holding midfield is not very effective shielding a mediocre and inexperienced defense, but the combination has been unflappable enough to keep the team in matches.
An interesting wrinkle in Luhukay’s schemes is the possibility of a third centerback. It is a setup the Dutch manager deployed against Bayer 04 Leverkusen (although not very effectively), and kicker speculated that he could be considering another go with a five-back system. That would give newly acquired John Heitinga a spot with Jens Hegeler and John Anthony Brooks, a tactic that could better account for Bayern’s fluid attack.
Luhukay have given a lot of respect to his opponent this week with his words, reflecting the arduous task Hertha BSC will have on Saturday.
Projected Lineup (5-2-2-1):
Änis Ben-Hatira – Roy Beerens
Per Skjelbred – Hajime Hasogai
Nico Schulz – John Heitinga – Jens Hegeler – John Anthony Brooks – Nico Schulz
Bench: Sascha Burchert, Marvin Plattenhardt, Christoph Jancker, Johannes van den Bergh, Peter Niemeyer, Ronny, Solomon Kalou
Out/Suspended: Sascha Burchert (muscle problems), Marius Gersbeck (knee), Sebastian Langkamp (ankle), Fabian Lustenberger (groin), Peter Pekarík (thigh), Alexander Baumjohann (knee), Tolga Cigerci (toe)
Whatever the team Guardiola deploys, the task for Hertha BSC is simply containment. Ben-Hatira and Beerens could give problems to Bayern on the counterattack, but the Rekordmeister has effectively defused breaks this season. Götze and Müller, who both work well in tight spaces, will find the wiggle room to get Bayern on the board, and that could unhinge the match in the German capital.
Projected Score: Hertha Berliner SC (0-3) Bayern Munich
The Other Action
SC Freiburg vs. VfB Stuttgart (Friday, 2:30 ET)
FC Schalke 04 vs. Mainz 05 (Saturday, 9:30 ET)
Bayer 04 Leverkusen vs. 1. FC Köln (Saturday, 9:30 ET)
Augsburg vs. Hamburger SV (Saturday, 9:30 ET)
SV Werder Bremen vs. SC Paderborn 07 (Saturday, 9:30 ET)
TSG 1899 Hoffenheim vs. Hannover 96 (Saturday, 12:30 ET)
VfL Wolfsburg vs. Borussia Mönchengladbach (Sunday, 9:30 ET)
Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Borussia Dortmund (Sunday, 9:30 ET)
Champions League Opponent
CSKA Moskva vs. Ufa (Saturday, 7:45 ET)
Eintracht Braunschweig vs. 1. FC Nürnberg (Monday. 2:15 ET)
|FC Schalke 04||13||5||2||5||17||17||0||17|
|TSG 1899 Hoffenheim||13||4||5||3||17||18||+3||17|
|1. FSV Mainz 05||13||3||7||2||15||14||+1||16|
|SC Paderborn 07||13||4||4||4||18||18||0||16|
|1. FC Köln||13||4||3||5||12||13||-1||15|
|Hertha Berliner SC||13||4||2||6||17||22||-5||14|