Coming into the season, this is not the first-against-fourth matchup many people expected to happen in many ways. As good as Bayern Munich's additions have panned out, Hertha Berlin may have hit the jackpot multiple times, making this fixture a little more interesting than when the fixture list came out in June.
Hertha have seen the brunt end of the stick in recent years, having to watch Bayern celebrate a Bundesliga title a couple of times as they dragged their tired legs back to the locker room. This club is under the right leadership though, and overachieving might not be overachieving for long. That said, there is a difference between overachieving against Darmstadt, Hannover, and Ingolstadt and overachieving against Bayern.
This is also a tactical matchup not many people are talking about, both managers with interesting strategic ideas that have kept their teams organized. Bayern are on a roll that many are going to struggle to stop, but Hertha Berlin may provide that struggle and be the first in a long time to escape Bayern with some points.
The Match (57th Meeting)
Location: Allianz Arena, Munich, Germany
Head: Dr. Jochen Drees
FC Bayern: 9 W, 3 D, 1 L – 15 YC, 1 RC
Time converter at worldtimebuddy.com
Television and Streaming:
US: Fox Sports 1 | HD, Fox Sports GO, Fox Soccer 2Go, Fox Deportes
Canada: Sportsnet World, Sportsnet World Now
Germany: Sky Bundesliga 1 & 3 | HD, Sky Go, TeleClub Sport Live
FC Bayern: WWWWD
Hertha BSC: form
Bundesliga: 35 W, 16 D, 9 L
DFB Pokal: 2 W, 0 D, 1 L
Ligapokal: 2 W, 1 L
Largest Victory: score (Competition: Date, City)
Largest Defeat: score (Competition: Date, City)
No other time under Pep Guardiola's tenure has Bayern's injury issues brought a reassuring feeling to the club rather than a panicked one. Guardiola has pulled players out of position before in order to compensate for absences, but this time when players need a game off, everyone can stack into the squad into a position makes sense.
That feeling was reinforced on Friday when Douglas Costa, who is one of Bayern's minute leaders on the season, had to pull out of squad selection with muscular problems. With Kingsley Coman in the squad, that injury blow is easier to absorb, and in fact may bring more balance to a team with a lot of left-footed skill players. It doesn't hurt that Coman can stand opposite and Arjen Robben and not look completely out of his depth.
Fortunately injuries will not hurt Bayern too bad in this Bundesliga matchday, for David Alaba is expected to come back after missing midweek with a knock in his ankle. Having him back in the squad is not only going to make counterattacks much easier to manage, but it is also going to bring a creative element to midfield when he tucks inside during Bayern's buildup. With Thiago out for the time being, Bayern can use all the playmaking they can get, especially against a team who will try to compress the final third.
Bayern's home performances have been infatuating, and after serenading the crowd at midweek, the tune on the field will be one Bayern fans will all want to sing to.
Projected Lineup (4-1-4-1):
Kingsley Coman – Arturo Vidal – Thomas Müller – Arjen Robben
David Alaba – Jerome Boateng – Javi Martinez – Philipp Lahm
Bench: Sven Ulreich, Holger Badstuber, Medhi Benatia, Rafinha, Jan Kirchhoff, Sebastian Rode, Joshua Kimmich
Out/Suspended: Juan Bernat (groin), Douglas Costa (muscular problems), Mario Götze (groin), Franck Ribéry (ankle), Thiago Alcantara (knee)
Hertha Berlin is not a team anyone pegged to be a top-of-the-table contender, and yet they have stacked together a good string of results to remain among the big boys. German magazine kicker featured Hertha Berlin as their most profitable club based on their frugal-yet-fantastic summer.
As good as his team has been, Pal Dardai knows who he is up against. He knows that he will have to form a Berlin wall between Bayern and the goal, and be very productive with the ball the few times they have it. Scoring against the run of play is Hertha's jam though, Solomon Kalou having a fantastic season after bouncing around Europe for a few years.
The thing that can expose them is their lack of depth. Mitchell Weiser will not be able to show his former club how much of a mistake it was not giving him a contract, for he will not travel due to injury. Add Thomas Kraft to that list as well, and Vedad Ibišević "50/50" to play according to Dardai.
Their defense will need help from midfield, but Fabian Lustenberger and Per Skjelbred are the right aggressive players to help out. In Weiser's place, 19-year-old Yanni Regäsel will have to start in his place, a little disconcerting for a team that will try to stop Coman and Arjen Robben from doing anything productive.
It will be a tough challenge for Hertha Berlin to get up for, but their organization might be able to keep them in the match long enough to make a little noise to match the Allianz Arena crowd.
Projected Lineup (4-1-4-1):
Genki Haraguchi – Vladimir Darida – Per Skjelbred – Roy Beerens
Marvin Plattenhart – John Anthony Brooks – Sebastian Langkamp – Yanni Regäsel
Bench: N. J. Körber, Johannes van den Bergh, Alexander Baumjohann, Tolga Cigerci, Jens Hegeler, Valentin Stocker, Vedad Ibišević
Out/Suspended: Sami Allagui (knee), Thomas Kraft (shoulder), Petr Pekarik, Julian Schieber, Mitchell Weiser (ankle)
Anyone can predict the approach each team will have to this match, even with all the injured players both teams have. The difference this time is that Bayern may be able to beat Hertha in the air, something Thomas Müller and Robert Lewandowski (and Javi Martínez) can take advantage of. Solomon Kolou has the pace to rupture Bayern on the counter, but he doesn't have his usual running mates to help him out. Bayern won this match 1-0 to win the Bundesliga title last season, but the score this time around should be a tad higher this time around.
The Other Action
SV Werder Bremen vs. Hamburger SV (Saturday, 9:30 AM ET)
Hannover 96 vs. FC Ingolstadt 04 (Saturday, 9:30 AM ET)
TSG 1899 Hoffenheim vs. Borussia Mönchengladbach (Saturday, 9:30 AM ET)
1. FSV Mainz 05 vs. Eintracht Frankfurt (Saturday, 12:30 PM ET)
Borussia Dortmund vs. VfB Stuttgart (Sunday, 9:30 AM ET)
Bayer 04 Leverkusen vs. FC Schalke 04 (Sunday, 9:30 AM ET)
FC Augsburg vs. VfL Wolfsburg (Sunday, 11:30 AM ET)
UEFA Champions League Opponent
Dinamo Zagreb vs. Lokomotiv Zagreb (Sunday, 9:00 AM ET)
SV Darmstadt 98 vs. 1. FC Köln (Friday, 2:30 PM ET)
|Hertha Berliner SC||7||2||4||18||15||+3||23|
|Bayer 04 Leverkusen||6||2||5||17||17||0||20|
|FC Schalke 04||6||2||5||17||19||-2||20|
|FC Ingolstadt 04||5||4||4||10||10||0||19|
|1. FC Köln||5||4||4||15||18||-3||19|
|1. FSV Mainz 05||5||2||6||18||19||-1||17|
|SV Darmstadt 98||3||5||5||14||19||-5||14|
|SV Werder Bremen||4||1||8||13||25||-12||13|
|TSG 1899 Hoffenheim||1||5||7||12||20||-8||8|