Youssoufa Moukoko is tipped to make his Bundesliga debut as Borussia Dortmund take on Hertha Berlin at the Olympiastadion on Saturday.

Bundesliga fans will be treated with an exciting Saturday as Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig all play on the same day and at different times. For Dortmund fans, they will be looking forward to a late-night encounter against Hertha Berlin at the ever-iconic Olympiastadion.

The Black and Yellows are heading into this game third in the Bundesliga table, trailing league leaders Bayern Munich by three points, thanks to their 3-2 defeat in Der Klassiker. They are also trailing second-placed RB Leipzig by just one point and are level on points with fourth-placed and in-form Bayer Leverkusen.

For head coach Lucien Favre, it is a must-win as the Swiss tactician faces an uncertain future at the club following a defeat to Bayern and an overall failure when it comes to helping the team lift some silverware.

Hertha Berlin, meanwhile, are hoping to kickstart a steady recovering run following a disastrous start to the campaign. The club from the capital had headed into the international break on the back of a convincing 3-0 win over FC Augsburg. It helped them move out of the relegation zone, and they will look to continue their momentum.

However, coach Bruno Labbadia will be well aware of the fact that sealing all three points against Dortmund could be a difficult task. And here, at The Hard Tackle, we will take a look at these two sides’ prospects heading into this fixture on Saturday.

Team News & Tactics

Hertha Berlin

With star striker, Jhon Cordoba out injured, Hertha Berlin will once again rely on the services of Krzysztof Piatek in front of goal. The Pole was involved in two of the three goals in the win over Augsburg and will be hoping to maintain his excellent run of form as features in the number nine role alongside Dodi Lukebakio.

AC Milan's Polish forward Krzysztof Piatek looks on ahead of the Italian Serie A football match between Brescia and AC Milan on January 24, 2020, at the Mario Rigamonti stadium in Brescia. (Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP) (Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP via Getty Images)

Piatek is the main man for Hertha. (Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP) (Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP via Getty Images)

Labbadia’s traditional 4-4-2 means these two strikers are set to play a key role in the first line of press. They will look to pressurise the opposing ball-carrier, hoping to create a turnover in the more dangerous areas of the pitch.

However, the midfield duo of Niklas Stark and Matteo Guendouzi could play a bigger role when it comes to pressing the opposition. Both these midfielders, however, are expected to be given a more conservative role, meaning they will mainly look to stay in their position and deny the opposition any kind of space rather than pressing them.

They will receive additional support from Vladimir Darida, whose free-flowing role on the right flank could aid Hertha’s versatile pressing system. Matheus Cunha, meanwhile, could be given a more attacking role on the opposite flank and for obvious reasons as the Brazilian has the flair as well as the talent to breach the Dortmund backline.

With Omar Rekik leaving the club and Jordan Torunarigha out injured, Labbadia has limited options at centre-back. While Stark is always a candidate, it appears that the Hertha coach may once again rely on the services of Omar Alderete. The 23-year-old is set to operate at the heart of the four-man backline alongside Dedryck Boyata.

Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Schwolow; Pekarik, Boyata, Alderete, Plattenhardt; Darida, Stark, Guendouzi, Cunha; Lukebakio, Piatek

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Borussia Dortmund

For Borussia Dortmund and especially their fans, this game will revolve around the young Youssoufa Moukoko as the incredibly talented 16-year-old braces himself for his debut. However, more on him later.

Besides, it remains unlikely that the youngster will be drafted ahead of Erling Haaland in the Dortmund attack so the onus will be on the young Norwegian to provide the goods going forward. He is likely to be supported by club captain Marco Reus, operating just behind the centre-forward.

Are we set for an Erling Haaland special on Saturday/ (Photo by Lars Baron/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Are we set for an Erling Haaland special on Saturday? (Photo by Lars Baron/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Giovanni Reyna is also expected to start alongside Jadon Sancho in the creative unit. It has been an exciting few weeks for the young American, who made his USMNT debut during the international break before extending his Borussia Dortmund contract until 2025 on Friday. It will be interesting to see how he performs against Hertha this weekend.

Mahmoud Dahoud is a favourite to start in midfield, ahead of youngster Jude Bellingham. The German, who was involved with the national team during the international break, is set to appear alongside Axel Witsel at the base of Borussia Dortmund’s 4-2-3-1 setup.

In defence, Dan-Axel Zagadou is slowly recovering to full fitness but Saturday’s game against Hertha Berlin might come too soon for the Frenchman. As a result, we might once again see Manuel Akanji starting alongside Mats Hummels in central defence while Raphael Guerreiro and Thomas Meunier should both occupy the full positions.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Burki; Meunier, Akanji, Hummels, Guerreiro; Witsel, Dahoud; Sancho, Reus, Reyna; Haaland

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Key Stats

  • Krzysztof Piatek – who has previously boasted double-digit goal hauls for seasons in Poland and Italy – has six in 23 appearances for Hertha so far.
  • Hertha’s 3-0 win at Augsburg was Bruno Labbadia’s 100th Bundesliga win as a coach. Only opposite number Lucien Favre, with 151 victories from 303 games, has more among current managers.
  • Both of the Old Lady’s wins this season have come away from home. They have only picked up a single point at the Olympiastadion so far.
  • Erling Haaland has scored 11 goals in all competitions for Dortmund this season, the Norwegian seeing the net ripple every 79 minutes he has played.
  • Edged 3-2 by Bayern Munich in Der Klassiker last Saturday, Borussia Dortmund have never suffered consecutive league defeats under Favre.

Player to Watch

Youssoufa Moukoko

As mentioned earlier, there is a lot of excitement surrounding the debut of Moukoko, who turned 16 on Friday. It means his potential involvement in Saturday’s game will make the youngest player in the history of the Bundesliga. He will replace former Dortmund midfielder Nuri Sahin, who was a month off his 17th birthday when he played against Wolfsburg in August 2005.

Born in Cameroon, Moukoko has netted 13 goals in just four appearances for the club’s Under-19s this season and 141 goals in 88 games since joining the club’s youth ranks from St. Pauli in 2016, at the age of eleven. He has outperformed every youth department he has been a part of, even at the highly prestigious Dortmund academy.

So it will be interesting to see how the youngster fares at the highest level of football as he comes up against international defenders like Boyata and Stark. Dortmund fans will be licking their lips over the idea of seeing Haaland and Moukoko play on the same team, and it could be a possibility tomorrow, with Reus being likely to be subbed off during the latter stages of the game.

Prediction

Hertha Berlin 0-2 Borussia Dortmund

Borussia Dortmund are the undisputed favourites heading into this game. They have a bunch of world-class players while key individuals like Reus and Hummels have had two weeks of rest, so we can expect the Black and Yellows to come out all guns blazing and secure a comfortable 2-0 victory at the Olympiastadion.

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