Borussia Dortmund will be aiming to regain their status as league leaders when they lock horns with Hertha Berlin on Saturday.

Borussia Dortmund will be heading into this weekend’s round of fixtures as the second placed team in the league for the first time since September as they travel to Olympiastadion to face Hertha Berlin on Saturday.

The Black and Yellows have made a disastrous start to this calendar year, having already dropped nine points, which allowed Bayern Munich to secure the top spot, thanks to a superior goal difference.

And although the visitors are coming on the back of a 3-1 win over VfB Stuttgart, they were far from impressive in that game and had to rely on a penalty to open the scoring in the second half. But, with the Ruhrpott giants securing two wins out of their last three league matches, they will be hopeful of their chances of overcoming a Hertha side that has struggled with consistency this season.

Indeed, Pal Dardai’s men are dawdling in the mid-table, with just 35 points on the board. They have also lost all of their last three Bundesliga matches, including an embarrassing 2-1 defeat to SC Freiburg last weekend.

However, only VfL Wolfsburg and Freiburg have collected more points than Hertha against sides who are in the top three going into this weekend’s round of fixtures, meaning the club from the capital have often shown resilience in big games and coach Dardai will be hoping for more of the same this weekend.

And here at the Hard Tackle, we run the rule over both the sides ahead of this mouthwatering fixture in the Bundesliga on Saturday.

Team News & Tactics

Hertha Berlin

Julius Kade and Derrick Luckassen have both been ruled out for the home team, while key man Javairo Dilrosun also fails to make the cut to the squad named by Dardai. Vladimir Darida has been included, however, despite being a doubt.

Marvin Plattenhardt is available, having returned from injury and the German international could start ahead of youngster Maximilian Mittelstadt, who has been in excellent form, of late. Plattenhardt’s mastery from set-pieces will be one of the main sources of creativity for Hertha this weekend.

EPPAN, ITALY - MAY 30: Marvin Plattenhardt (Deutschland, l.) mit Maximilian Mittelstadt during a Germany v Germany U20 test match at German national team training camp on May 30, 2018 in Eppan, Italy. (Photo by Pool/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Both Plattenhardt and Mittelstadt will be competing for the left wing-back role. (Photo by Pool/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Lukas Klunter, on the other hand, is likely to make way for Valentino Lazaro in the right wing-back position while the three-man backline will comprise of Niklas Stark, Karim Rekik and Jordan Torunarigha, who is likely to get the nod ahead of Fabian Lustenberger.

In midfield, Dardai will rely on the brilliant work-ethic of Arne Maier, who will be partnered by Marko Grujic at the base of Hertha’s 3-4-1-2. Elsewhere, Ondrej Duda will be deployed as the lone attacking midfielder and the Slovakian international will be tasked with the responsibility of providing the creative spark going forward.

And finally, it will be the offensive duo of Salomon Kalou and Vedad Ibisevic, that  will be spearheading the Hertha attack this weekend, as they aim to breach the vulnerable Dortmund defence.

Probable Lineup (3-4-1-2): Jarstein; Stark, Rekik, Torunarigha; Lazaro, Grujic, Maier, Plattenhardt; Duda; Kalou, Ibisevic.

Borussia Dortmund

Lucien Favre has been dealt with a fresh injury blow this week after it was confirmed that key midfielder Axel Witsel has been ruled out against Berlin due to a hamstring injury. This will be a huge blow for Dortmund, who are already missing out on the services of Lukasz Piszczek and Maximilian Philipp.

LEIPZIG, SAXONY - JANUARY 19: Lukasz Piszczek of Dortmund reacts during the Bundesliga match between RB Leipzig and Borussia Dortmund at Red Bull Arena on January 19, 2019 in Leipzig, Germany. (Photo by Karina Hessland/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Lukasz Piszczek will continue his spell on the sidelines. (Photo by Karina Hessland/Bongarts/Getty Images)

In addition, Mario Gotze and Paco Alcacer have not travelled to Berlin with the rest of the team, casting a doubt on their availability this weekend.

Therefore, Favre will have to make some changes in midfield in order to cover up the absence of Witsel and Gotze. And we expect the Swiss international to introduce Mahmoud Dahoud, who will be partnered by Thomas Delaney at the base Dortmund’s 4-2-3-1.

Marco Reus, on the other hand, will operate as the false nine, meaning Jadon Sancho could revert to the left side of the attack, allowing Raphael Guerreiro to feature as the lone attacking midfielder. Gotze’s absence will also allow Christian Pulisic to return to the starting lineup and the American international will occupy the right-wing slot.

In defence, Favre could once again resort to his trusted defensive combination of Manuel Akanji and Abdou Diallo. As a result, Dan-Axel Zagadou may once again have to start on the bench, which, in turn, will allow Achraf Hakimi to operate as the left-back while Marius Wolf may retain his place on the opposite flank.

Probable Lineup(4-2-3-1): Burki; Wolf, Akanji, Diallo, Hakimi; Dahoud, Delaney; Pulisic, Guerreiro, Sancho; Reus.

Key Stats

  • Borussia Dortmund are undefeated in 9 of their last 10 matches against Hertha Berlin in all competitions.
  • Hertha have lost only one of their last seven home games in the Bundesliga.
  • Hertha also have a solid record against Dortmund at home, having remained unbeaten in their last four meetings in the Bundesliga.
  • Dortmund, however, have lost only one of their last ten competitive meetings with Hertha.
  • Hertha versus Dortmund is a meeting of this season’s comeback specialists as only BVB (13) have gathered more points from losing positions than the Berlin (10) natives.

Player to Watch

Marco Reus

DORTMUND, GERMANY - MARCH 05: Marco Reus #11 of Borussia Dortmund reacts during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 Second Leg match between Borussia Dortmund and Tottenham Hotspur at Westfalen Stadium on March 05, 2019 in Dortmund, North Rhine-Westphalia. (Photo by Maja Hitij/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Marco Reus will have to bear extra weight on his shoulders this weekend. (Photo by Maja Hitij/Bongarts/Getty Images)

With both Gotze and Alcacer set to miss out against Berlin this weekend, the onus will be on Marco Reus to deliver the goods, not only in the creative department but also in terms of productivity as Dortmund have lacked penetration in the past few weeks.

Reus, therefore, will have to be more clinical in the false nine role but importantly, it will be his excellent combination with the likes of Pulisic, Guerreiro and Sancho that could really help Dortmund breach the Hertha defence.

The German international, however, has been involved in only one league goal since returning from injury and will thus, have a point to prove to this weekend – making him the player to keep an eye out for in this enticing encounter.

Prediction

Hertha Berlin 1-1 Borussia Dortmund

Hertha have always fared well against Dortmund at home and considering their strength on the counter, it could be yet another haunting experience for the Dortmund defence who have lacked solidity during the second half of this campaign. We expect both sides to share the spoils in this one.

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