The eyes of the world will be on the capital on Friday night as the two giants of Berlin go head-to-head at the Olympiastadion. With bragging rights and an escape from lingering relegation worries on the line, it is sure to be a hotly-contested tie.
It is only the second time that Hertha BSC and 1. FC Union Berlin have met in the Bundesliga, the first of which came in November 2019. Newly-promoted Union hosted on that occasion, at their Stadion An der Alten Forsterei. Despite being the underdogs, Union triumphed 1-0 thanks to a last-gasp penalty conversion from Sebastian Polter.
Following the resumption of the Bundesliga last week, a tough 3-0 win on the road against European hopefuls TSG Hoffenheim saw Hertha leapfrog Union into 11th place, while Die Eisernen fell to a 2-0 home defeat to Bayern Munich.
Hertha come into Friday’s encounter without a win in their last six home matches, three of which were losses. However, they have gone without defeat in their last three Bundesliga games, scoring two or more goals in each of them. New manager Bruno Labbadia will be looking to build on his impressive start to life at the helm after winning his first match in charge. The German is Hertha’s fifth coach since June 2019.
Their visitors from across Berlin, Union, travel to Die Alte Dame (where they have never lost) having suffered two consecutive league losses. With a far-from-enviable away record, and having conceded in each of their last five, Friday’s tie is looking likely to be a goal-fest.
Hertha look likely to mirror their side from last week’s trip to Hoffenheim, with the exception of Per Skjelbred, who, despite a strong showing, will probably make way in midfield for Vladimir Darida, as the Czech returns from a suspension.
The attacking outfit shaping up to be business-as-usual. Sprightly Brazilian Matheus Cunha is a reasonable bet to start after proving to be a thorn in the side of the Hoffenheim defence last time out, including a spectacular solo goal.
Alongside him, Hertha’s linchpin Vedad Ibisevic’s incredible performance on Saturday may be enough to keep January signing Krzysztof Piatek away from the starting line-up.
Union Berlin are missing German defender Keven Schlotterbeck following a suspension, whose place will likely be taken by Marvin Friedrich. Top scorer Sebastian Andersson (11 goals) was deemed fit for a place on the bench last week against Bayern Munich, and is on course to be ready for a return to the starting XI.
Hertha BSC: Jarstein; Pekarik, Boyata, Torunarigha, Plattenhardt; Darida, Grujic; Lukebakio, Cunha, Mittelstadt; Ibisevic. (4-2-3-1)
1. FC Union Berlin: Gikiewicz; Friedrich, Hubner, Subotic; Trimmel, Gentner, Andrich, Lenz; Ingvartsen, Bulter, Andersson. (3-4-3)