Defending Bundesliga Champions Bayern Munich will look to reclaim their perennial top spot in the table as they take on Hertha Berlin on Saturday afternoon.

Fresh from completing their European formalities in style, Bayern Munich are aiming to continue their form in the Bundesliga as they travel to the German capital to face fallen giants Hertha Berlin at the Olympiastadion on Saturday afternoon.

The Bavarians are currently sitting in second place in the Bundesliga standings. Yes, despite having one of the best rosters in the world at their disposal and virtually an unstoppable attack, they find themselves behind the Berlin minnows Union, who are out there in a bid to script their fairytale.

Bayern, however, are a dominant force that can’t be thwarted for long and have improved after a sloppy start to their domestic campaign. The Bavarian giants eased past Inter Milan by a 2-0 margin in their previous game and will aim to boost the ante this weekend by seizing their proverbial birthright top spot in the table.

The Capital Club, meanwhile, are enduring another disappointing campaign. They have won only twice this season and again look to be in for a relegation fight. Hertha BSC enter the game off the back of a narrow 1-0 loss to Werder Bremen in the Bundesliga last weekend.

The solitary goal of the game came in the 85th minute, and Hertha BSC will be frustrated that they did not come out with a point. The result means Hertha BSC have now won only one of their last seven Bundesliga matches.

That victory came over Schalke 04 in their last home game, and they are in desperate need of some big results sooner rather than later to create some breathing space between themselves and the relegation places, with them being just two points clear of the relegation play-off place.

As if the sight of their bitter rivals Union currently leading the Bundesliga wasn’t enough, Hertha host rampant Bayern to make matters worse, as they have had some absolute hammerings against the Bavarians in the recent past. Here at The Hard Tackle, we will take a look at these two sides ahead of this crucial encounter at the Olympiastadion this weekend.

Team News & Tactics

Hertha Berlin

While some of Hertha’s defeats have been down to their own doing, there is also no hiding from the fact they have had a torrid time with injuries to key players this term. Their injury list is certainly not a pleasing read. They will be without the services of striker Stevan Jovetic, who hobbled off the pitch in Bremen last Friday with a muscular strain and has been ruled out.

Wilfried Kanga is suffering from a stomach illness and will be re-assessed prior to the match. Márton Dárdai (shin) and Jessic Ngankam (thigh) are also struggling with their respective injuries, while Kelian Nsona has started the recovery process after undergoing knee surgery and will be out for the remainder of the season.

Manager Sandro Schwarz has tried to make Hertha a more resolute outfit of late, and they have not been easy to beat, remaining unbeaten in 5 of their last 7 league matches, albeit at the expense of a bit of their usual attacking adventure.

There are unlikely to be any changes in the defensive department from the side that nearly got a point against Bremen. Oliver Christensen remains a guaranteed starter in between the sticks, with the hosts lining up in a 4-3-3 formation in front of him. The back four will comprise of Jonjoe Kenny, Agustín Rogel, Marc-Oliver Kempf, and skipper Marvin Plattenhardt, all of whom are expected to stay narrow to contain Bayern’s buzzing full-backs.

Meanwhile, the Hertha Berlin double-pivot should consist of Lucas Tousart, Ivan Sunjic, and Suat Serdar, with the latter serving as the anchor and capable of scoring goals as well. But their primary job here will be to stop Bayern’s middle two from running riot.

Dodi Lukebakio is Hertha’s most potent attacker and has proven to be a reliable source of goals, bagging six for the season already. His pace, physical power, and aerial ability could make life difficult for Bayern’s backline. Davie Selke will fill in for Jovetic, while Marco Richter could also retain his spot off the left flank here.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Christensen; Kenny, Rogel, Kempf, Plattenhardt; Tousart, Sunjic, Serdar; Lukebakio, Selke, Richter

Bayern Munich

The Bayern machine looks like it is in full swing again after motoring through the gears over the last two months, with a run of nine victories in 10 matches propelling them to progression on both the domestic and European circuits.

Bayern will be without Bouna Sarr (patella problem) as he continues his recovery, as will goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, who recently revealed he has been undergoing skin cancer surgeries recently. Thomas Muller, Leroy Sane, and Lucas Hernandez are all unlikely to be risked here with the World Cup on the horizon.

The positive news for Der FCB faithful is that Matthijs de Ligt, Alphonso Davies, Leon Goretzka, and Serge Gnabry are all expected to return to the starting lineup for the visit to Hertha Berlin.

The goals have been flowing effortlessly, as they often do for the Bavarians. They are expected to line up in manager Julian Nagelsmann’s preferred 4-2-3-1 system. Jamal Musiala will operate from the number ten role, getting help from Serge Gnabry and Sadio Mane on the flanks as they look to unlock Hertha’s defence.

Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting might not have the most aesthetically pleasing name on the team sheet as his more renowned Bayern Munich teammates, but the 33-year-old remains a lethal offensive weapon for the German champions. Having found the back of the net seven times in his last six appearances for the Bavarians, he should lead the line again on Saturday after his exploits against Inter in the Champions League in midweek.

Leon Goretzka and Joshua Kimmich will form the double pivot as the visitors look to dominate the Hertha midfield this weekend. Elsewhere at the back, in-form Benjamin Pavard, De Ligt, Dayot Upamecano, and Alphonso Davies will be deployed as the back four in front of 34-year-old Sven Ulreich in goal.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Ulrich; Pavard, De Ligt, Upamecano, Davies; Kimmich, Goretzka; Gnabry, Musiala, Mane; Choupo-Moting

Key Stats

  • Bayern Munich have a strong record against Hertha Berlin, having won 31 of the past 46 meetings between the two clubs, compared to Hertha Berlin’s four wins, and have won each of the five meetings between the two sides.
  • Bayern’s away form has not been convincing, having recorded only one win from their four most recent away league fixtures.
  • Hertha Berlin are undefeated in their last four Bundesliga games at the Olympiastadion Berlin, their longest such stretch since 2021.
  • Hertha’s home form in the Bundesliga reveals that they are unbeaten in their last four games, but they are failing to get over the line in games, with only one win in their last seven home league games.
  • Bayern Munich have scored 24 goals in the German top-flight this season, a record for the first 12 games in the Bundesliga.

Player to Watch

Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting

Choupo-Moting has played a bit-part role for both Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain in recent years. That hasn’t changed this season, but despite playing a limited role under Julian Nagelsmann, the red-hot Cameroon international has hit a purple patch of stunning goal-scoring form of late, hitting 8 goals and providing 3 assists in just over 600 minutes of football action.

 Embed from Getty Images

He has forced his way into Nagelsmann’s starting XI, and the veteran will do well to continue his superb streak in Berlin. His predatory qualities are excellent, and he remains an underrated finisher.

Well, not anymore, with Manchester United looking at him to replace wantaway Cristiano Ronaldo. Anyway, his current contract at the Allianz Arena expires at the end of the season, but Bayern Munich are planning to reward him with a new one.

Prediction

Hertha Berlin 0-2 Bayern Munich

Bayern Munich’s 100% win record in the Champions League is a perfect indicator of their return to form. They conceded just twice and scored 18 goals in what was regarded as the “Group of Death,” demonstrating their superiority despite losing Robert Lewandowski in the summer.

Their 6-2 victory against FSV Mainz last week was the third time the Bavarians have scored six goals in a Bundesliga match this season. The visitors are unquestionably the favourites to take all three points, but not by such a gigantic margin, with Hertha proving difficult to break down and surprisingly more stable at the back lately.

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