Bayern Munich will look to catch up with league leaders Borussia Dortmund as they host Hertha Berlin at the Allianz Arena on Saturday.
It has been quite a month for Bayern Munich, who have recovered from a whopping seven-point gap at the top to just three points as we head into this week’s round of fixtures in the Bundesliga.
The Bavarians, however, are coming on the back of a goalless draw with Liverpool in the Champions League while they had also struggled to secure a win against FC Augsburg last weekend. But, having won nine of their last 10 Bundesliga matches, Bayern are the clear favourites going into this game.
Hertha Berlin, on the other hand, produced a solid performance against Bayern earlier this month despite a narrow 3-2 defeat in the third round of the DFB Pokal.
Since then, the club from the capital have remained unbeaten, notably securing an impressive 3-0 win against high-flying Borussia Monchengladbach. They have also lost only one of their last five Bundesliga matches and thus, head coach Pal Dardai will be hoping that his side can keep their defensive solidity intact against the mighty Bayern attack this weekend.
And here at the Hard Tackle, we run the rule over these two sides ahead of this mouthwatering clash on Saturday.
Team News & Tactics
Bayern Munich boss Niko Kovac will look to make some changes from the side that were held by Liverpool in midweek, particularly in the attacking department.
Thomas Muller, who was suspended for the Champions League clash on Wednesday will return to the side, replacing James Rodriguez in the lone attacking midfield position. He will be partnered by the wide-duo of Serge Gnabry and Franck Ribery.
Arjen Robben, meanwhile, is a doubt along with Leon Goretzka, meaning Javi Martinez could once again start as the holding midfielder at the base of Bayern’s 4-2-3-1.
The former Athletic Bilbao will be partnered by his compatriot Thiago Alcantara, whose technical quality in midfield could be crucial as the hosts look to dominate the Hertha midfield this weekend.
In defence, Kovac could hand Jerome Boateng a rare start at the heart of the four-man backline. He will replace Mats Hummels, who is a doubt with an illness. Niklas Sule will partner Boateng in central defence. Elsewhere, David Alaba and Joshua Kimmich will be deployed as fullbacks while Manuel Neuer will start in goal.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Kimmich, Boateng, Sule, Alaba; Martinez, Alcantara; Gnabry, Muller, Ribery; Lewandowski.
Dardai will miss out on the services of a host of key players including Matthew Leckie, Peter Pekarik, Martin Plattenhardt and Vedad Ibisevic.
Therefore, the Hungarian mastermind will have to make do with limited resources this weekend, meaning we could expect minimal changes from the side that secured a 1-1 draw with Werder Bremen in the last game.
However, Dardai could employ a four-man backline in order to counter Bayern’s 4-2-3-1, which should see Valentino Lazaro shift into a deeper right-back position while Maximilian Mittelstadt will continue to deputize for the injured Plattenhardt on the opposite flank.
Niklas Stark and Karim Rekik will form up the central defence while Fabian Lustenberger will sit in at the base of Hertha’s 4-1-2-1-2. The 30-year-old will be tasked with the responsibility of providing security for the backline while the likes of Marko Grujic and Arne Maier will look to put pressure on Bayern’s creative midfielders.
Ondrej Duda will retain his role as the lone attacking midfielder and the Slovakian international will look to provide the creative support for Hertha’s offensive duo of Davie Selke and Salomon Kalou.
Probable Lineup (4-1-2-1-2): Jarstein; Lazaro, Rekik, Stark, Mittelstadt; Lustenberger; Grujic, Maier; Duda; Selke, Kalou.
- Hertha Berlin are yet to win away at Bayern in the Bundesliga in any of their last 23 attempts.
- Bayern Munich haven’t managed to win any of their last four meetings with Hertha; their longest current run against any Bundesliga opponent.
- Bayern have kept a clean sheet in their last 4 home matches against Hertha Berlin in all competitions.
- Hertha were the only Bundesliga team Bayern Munich failed to score against in 2018.
- There have been over 2.5 goals scored in Bayern‘s last 6 games.
Player to Watch
Bayern Munich midfielder Javi Martinez was rock solid in midfield against Liverpool in the midweek as the Spaniard not only disrupted the flow of the opposition in the middle but also played a key role in Bayern’s build-up game.
And with Goretzka likely to miss out, the 30-year-old will once again play a vital role for the Bavarians in the centre of the park. Martinez’s excellent tackling coupled with his physicality will be crucial in dealing with the likes of Duda and Kalou.
However, Hertha could look to exploit Martinez’s lack of pace, which will allow the Old Lady to circulate possession in the middle as well as initiating counter-attacking opportunities, thus making him one of the players worth keeping an eye out for this weekend.
Bayern Munich 1-0 Hertha Berlin
Bayern may once again struggle to breach the Berlin defence on Saturday but considering their fiery form going into this fixture, coupled with the fact that visitors will be missing out on the services of few of their star players, we at The Hard Tackle expect the Bavarians to snatch a narrow win in this one.