As their record shows, Bayern Munich have looked as invincible under Carlo Ancelotti as ever. But their performance over the weekend against Ingolstadt have made them look more beatable. Ingolstadt certainly will not be the last team to have a strong go at Bayern, but their minor struggles may become bigger when facing Hertha Berlin.
Hertha are the other team with a perfect record so far. Their wins against Freiburg, Ingolstadt and Schalke have catapulted the club back into the Champions League picture, silencing doubters that though their success last season was unsustainable. Pal Dardai has already made people forget about their shortcomings in Europa League qualifying and turned Hertha into a team others need to take seriously.
“Hertha is a compact and aggressive team,” Ancelotti said in Tuesday’s press conference. “They have a lot of quality going forward. It is not surprising that they are unbeaten so far.”
Though their form has been flawless in the Bundesliga, Hertha’s history against Bayern is not great. They haven’t won a match in Munich since 1977, and Bayern have won each of the last 10 meetings against Hertha, two which allowed them to clinch the Bundesliga title.
Hertha has also been the place for Bayern rejects in recent seasons, but Dardai may have gotten the best out of one. Mitchell Weiser is living up to his potential under the Hungarian coach, the same potential that prompted Bayern to poach him from Cologne’s academy system.
Weiser is part of a Hertha solid attacking force – their six goals is tied for seventh best in the Bundesliga after three games – that will test an illness-stricken defensive unit for Bayern. Ancelotti proclaimed Philipp Lahm, David Alaba and Mats Hummels all fit for the match, but Hummels will be rotated out as the Italian coach tries to keep all of his center backs fit. That means Jerome Boateng will be making his season debut, but trying to stop one of the more in form teams in the Bundesliga may be a though early challenge.
Other than a handful of underwhelming performances, Ancelotti’s rotation policy has been spot on. Even some of his substitutions have been spot-on, but he has yet to trot out who is in his best team. He may have to against Hertha, and it may be the first match as Bayern coach where he has to get his team selection just right for Bayern to win.
Bayern have thus far found a way – even when performing at a subpar level – to come out on top. But facing the second-place team in the Bundesliga may bring their fortune to an end.
Prediction: Bayern 2-1 win. Hertha have looked strong, but their buildup is still lacking. It will be tougher without Vladimir Darida in the squad, for it makes them even more reliant on the individual class of Weiser and Genki Haraguchi. A strong midfield presence from Bayern could make the game very one-sided, something that has often been the case in recent matches in this fixture.
Bayern Munich injuries and suspensions: Holger Badstuber, Douglas Costa (thigh)
Hertha Berlin injuries and suspensions: Anthony Brooks (groin), Vladimir Darida (ankle), Ondrej Duda (knee), Nils-Jonathan Körber (knee)
Television and Streaming:
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Germany: Sky Bundesliga 1&3, Sky Go, TeleClub Sport Live