Separated by just four points but teetering on the edge of two very different fates, Saturday’s meeting between Hertha Berlin and FC Augsburg at the Olympiastadion is a must-win for both sides.
The hosts are unbeaten in their last five, three of which have come under the watchful eye of new boss Bruno Labbadia. Hertha are one of just five clubs who have been victorious at home since the resumption of the campaign, with their 4-0 thrashing of city rivals Union Berlin putting them amongst the exclusive group of Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Fortuna Dusseldorf and TSG Hoffenheim.
Die Alte Dame pulled off a stunning result on the road on Wednesday when they held title-chasing RB Leipzig to a 2-2 draw. Goals from Marko Grujic and Krzysztof Piatek capped off what was a stellar showing of defensive containment, one which successfully kept clinical Leipzig striker Timo Werner at bay.
The draw saw them move seven points adrift of Europa League qualifying and into the top half of the Bundesliga. Just weeks ago, the blue half of Berlin were looking at the other side of the table, having been perilously close to the relegation zone before Labbadia’s reign began.
Their visitors, FC Augsburg, sit four points behind in 12th. Unlike Hertha, the Fuggerstadter are looking anxiously towards the bottom of the league as they linger just four points from the drop.
Heiko Herrlich’s men have had a mixed bag of results in the three games since the resumption of the league. A loss at home to VfL Wolfsburg was followed by a 3-0 win on the road to the ailing Schalke 04, while last time out they played out a deadlock draw as they hosted bottom-of-the-league SC Paderborn.
Hertha are expected to make a sole change to the side that began the brutal tie with RB Leipzig on Wednesday. After suffering what is suspected to be a concussion, Marvin Plattenhardt is likely to miss out and be replaced by 23-year-old defender Maximillian Mittelstadt.
Salomon Kalou will not feature as he continues to serve his club-given suspension.
Augsburg will likely field an identical team to the one that faced Paderborn earlier this week. Alfred Finnbogason’s fitness is the key question for the Fuggerstadtr.
Hertha Berlin: Jarstein; Pekarik, Boyata, Torunarigha, Mittelstadt; Grujic, Skjelbred; Lukebakio, Darida; Cunha, Ibisevic. (4-2-2-2)
FC Augsburg: Luthe; Framberger, Jedvaj, Uduokhai, Max; Khedira, Baier; Richter, Lowen, Vargas; Niederlechner. (4-2-3-1)