Bayern Munich will brace themselves for yet another stern test this week as they face Hertha Berlin in the third round of the DFB Pokal.
Following a disastrous performance in the 3-1 defeat to Bayer Leverkusen last weekend, Bayern Munich coach Niko Kovac will demand a quick response from his team as they travel to Olympiastadion to face Hertha Berlin in the third round of the DFB Cup.
Bayern saw their eight-game winning streak come to an end when they were ousted by a spirited Leverkusen side. And with the Bavarians trailing league leaders Borussia Dortmund by a whopping seven-point margin, Kovac is on thin ice once again and a win could be imperative as the Croatian looks to recover from a terrible start Hinrunde.
The German champions have also struggled in the DFB Pokal this season, having been made to work hard in both of their 1st and 2nd round fixtures against SV Drochtersen and SV Rodinghausen respectively. And things could get certainly get tougher as they face a top-flight opponent in Hertha BSC.
The club from the capital have had a balanced record this campaign, securing 28 points from 20 matches that see them in a mid-table position in the league table.
However, Pal Dardai’s men certainly aren’t the most confident bunch at the moment, having registered just one win in their last six matches. And here at the Hard Tackle, we take a look at both the sides ahead of this mouthwatering encounter at the Olympiastadion on Wednesday.
Team news & tactics
Javairo Dilrosun is the only Hertha player sidelined with an injury but Dardai will also miss out on the services of Matt Leckie, who has returned from the Asian Cup with a hamstring injury.
The Hungarian mastermind could retain the three-man backline against Bayern Munich on Wednesday, meaning the defensive trifecta of Karim Rekik, Fabian Lustenberger and Niklas Stark will once again be deployed at the heart of the Berlin defence.
Dardai is unlikely to make any notable changes to the side that lost to Wolfsburg on the weekend, thus the duo of Marvin Plattenhardt and Valentino Lazaro could be slotted in wing-back roles. Both the players will play an important role against the Bayern fullbacks in Joshua Kimmich and David Alaba.
Marko Grujic has been a first-team regular for Hertha after returning from an ankle injury and the Liverpool loanee could continue at the base of 3-4-1-2. He will be partnered by Arne Maier, whose excellent work-ethic will be important in dealing with the Bayern midfielders.
The Hertha attack will be led by Vedad Ibisevic, who will be partnered by Davie Selke in the two-man attacking setup. Both the attackers will be serviced by Ondrej Duda, who will operate as the lone attacking midfielder, although Lazaro is also expected to provide the creativity going forward.
Probable lineup(3-4-1-2): Jarstein; Lustenberger, Rekik, Stark; Lazaro, Grujic, Maier, Plattenhardt; Duda; Ibisevic, Selke.
Manuel Neuer is unlikely to feature against Hertha after injuring his hand, despite travelling with the team to Berlin while Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery are also doubtful. As a result, the duo of Kingsley Coman and Thomas Muller could continue on the wings while James Rodriguez is poised to make his first start in quite a long time.
The Colombian international could operate as the lone attacking midfielder, meaning Leon Goretzka is likely to shift into the central midfield position, which, in turn, will see Javi Martinez relegated to the bench. Goretzka will be partnered by Thiago Alcantara at the base of Bayern’s 4-2-3-1.
Alcantara will return to the starting lineup after missing the game against Leverkusen on the weekend and his presence in midfield will certainly boost Bayern’s transition play as well as their creativity in the final third.
The Bayern attack will be led by Robert Lewandowski, who was anonymous against Leverkusen and will be keen to return to scoring form this week.
And in defence, Jerome Boateng is expected to return at the heart of the Bayern backline. The German international could replace Mats Hummels and will play alongside Niklas Sule while David Alaba and Joshua Kimmich will be slotted in as fullbacks. Kimmich played in midfield in the last game but should return to his customary right-back position this week.
Probable lineup(4-2-3-1): Ulreich; Kimmich, Boateng, Sule, Alaba; Goretzka, Alcantara; Muller, Rodriguez, Coman; Lewandowski.
- Hertha Berlin were the first team to beat Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga this season.
- With Saturday’s loss to Leverkusen, Bayern Munich have now lost four games in the league so far, which is what they had managed in the whole of last season.
- Bayern have secured only one win in the last five meetings in all competitions against Hertha.
- Only Borussia Dortmund have a better scoring record than Bayern Munich this season.
- Hertha are winless at home in their last three matches.
Player to watch
Bayern Munich have shown their lack of defensive solidity time and time again this season and Hertha Berlin will look to make full use of that vulnerability by deploying Davie Selke.
The 24-year-old is an athletic striker, whose aggression and tenacity will help Berlin pile more pressure on the Bayern centre-backs, who have often appeared sloppy with the ball at their feet.
Selke is also blessed with immense physical attributes that will allow him to take on the likes of Boateng and Sule -making him one of the players worth looking forward to this week.
Bayern Munich 2-0 Hertha Berlin
With Neuer, Thiago and Franck Ribery back in first-team contention, Bayern Munich are unlikely to follow up with yet another defeat this week, although the intense pressing from Dardai’s men could trouble them. But past that, the Bavarians are huge favourites to snatch a win against Berlin and proceed to the next round.