Bayern Munich will be looking to enter the international break on a positive note as they take on Hertha Berlin on Saturday.

Bayern Munich’s rusty start to the campaign has been successfully mended following a run of three wins that saw them win the DFL Supercup, secure their first Bundesliga win and advance to the second round of the DFB Pokal.

On Saturday, the Bavarians will be hoping to make it four wins in four as they play hosts to Hertha Berlin at Allianz Arena. The hosts are certainly heading into this game riding high on confidence after beating Bremer SV 12-0 in the first round of the DFB Pokal this midweek.

However, they are bracing themselves for a sterner test when they take on Hertha this weekend. The capital club are no fifth tier outfit and will be determined to make a difference after a disappointing start to the campaign.

Indeed, the Old Lady have started the 2021/22 season with two back to back defeats to 1.FC Koln and VfL Wolfsburg. It has put pressure on the board as well as the coach, especially after yet another spending spree in the summer, this time under the leadership of former Eintracht Frankfurt sporting director Fredi Bobic.

Unfortunately for them, securing anything against Bayern Munich will be a daunting task, with the Bavarians being unbeaten against Hertha in 26 consecutive home games. Their last defeat to Berlin in Munich came way back in 1977, so there’s no doubt that the visitors will be only looking for a point that could lift their confidence heading into the international break.

As for the hosts, securing all three points could be critical, knowing Borussia Dortmund can hit back at any moment while RB Leipzig are coming on the back of a stellar 4-0 victory over VfB Stuttgart. And here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sides ahead of their vital encounter at Allianz Arena this weekend.

Team News & Tactics

Bayern Munich

Julian Nagelsmann rested a host of key players in the midweek game against Bremer SV while substituting others at half-time. They are all expected to start in this clash, with Manuel Neuer, in particular, set to return in goal at the expense of Sven Ulreich.

The same can be said for youngster Josip Stanisic at right-back and Alphonso Davies at left-back, as they replace Bouna Sarr and Omar Richards, respectively. Youngster Tanguy Nianzou may also have to make way for new signing Dayot Upamecano at the heart of Bayern’s four-man backline.

Similarly, changes are expected in midfield, with Leon Goretkza resuming his partnership with Joshua Kimmich in the double-pivot. It will be essential for these two to perform well, especially given how Bayern have given the opposition a lot of space in the middle in recent matches.

Nagelsmann, though, has been dealt with a selection dilemma in the attacking department. Jamal Musiala is a candidate to start performing well and almost scoring a hat-trick against Bremer SV in midweek. He was also the driving force behind Bayern’s second half performance against Koln.

We are expecting the youngster to be given the nod ahead of Leroy Sane on the right hand side while Serge Gnabry and Thomas Muller remain guaranteed starters in their respective positions. And finally, Robert Lewandowski should return to spearhead the Bayern Munich attack despite his understudy Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting bagging four goals and three assists in the midweek fixture.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Stanisic, Upamecano, Sule, Davies; Kimmich, Goretzka; Musiala, Muller, Gnabry; Lewandowski

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Hertha Berlin

Hertha Berlin are reportedly in talks to sign Stuttgart captain Marc Oliver Kempf, but until his transfer gets finalised, they will have to make do with the central defensive duo of Niklas Stark and Dedryck Boyata.

Pal Dardai usually plays with a narrow shape against Bayern, with fullbacks being given a lot of defensive responsibilities. We can expect more of the same from Marvin Plattenhardt and Peter Pekarik this weekend, though the former remains a real weapon for the visitors from set-pieces.

In midfield, Kevin Prince Boateng remains a doubt due to a back problem. It should force Dardai to deploy a two-man midfield setup with Suat Serdar and Santiago Ascacibar, hoping to keep the opposition at bay. Ascacibar, in particular, should play a vital role in the second line of press.

As for the attack, Dardai may have certainly taken notes from Koln’s methods last weekend. And as such, the absence of Boateng might give him the ideal excuse to deploy new signing Stevan Jovetic in attack, alongside Davie Selke.

The former Man City striker will largely hover around in the number ten position, joining up Selke only during counter-attacks. He will otherwise form Hertha’s creative trifecta alongside the two wide attackers in Dodi Lukebakio and Javairo Dilrosun, though Dardai also has the option of starting Marco Richter.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Schwolow; Pekarik, Boyata, Stark, Plattenhardt; Serdar, Ascacibar; Lukebakio, Jovetic, Dilrosun; Selke

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Key Stats

  • Robert Lewandowski has scored 12 goals in 18 Bundesliga meetings with Hertha, including all four, as Bayern won last season’s corresponding fixture 4-3.
  • Julian Nagelsmann has never lost a Bundesliga match against Hertha as a coach (W7 D4).
  • Bayern Munich have scored at least once in a European record 74 consecutive competitive matches. The last time they were kept from scoring was in February 2020, against Nagelsmann’s former side RB Leipzig.
  • Kevin Prince Boateng’s last competitive meeting with Bayern was as part of Eintracht Frankfurt’s 2017/18 DFB Cup-winning team. It’s his only victory in nine outings against the record champions (D2 L6).
  • Pal Dardai’s won one of his 10 Bundesliga fixtures against Bayern as Hertha coach – a 2-0 home win on Matchday 6 of 2018/19.

Player to Watch

Alphonso Davies

Ineffective (Photo by Sebastian Widmann/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Ready to make the difference yet again. (Photo by Sebastian Widmann/Bongarts/Getty Images)

After being rested in the midweek cup game against Bremer SV, Alphonso Davies should return to Bayern Munich’s starting eleven this weekend, occupying his favoured left-back position.

The Canadian international has been the club’s best performer under Nagelsmann so far, making a real difference with his speed and ability to dribble past defenders. Davies has also improved his defensive work and has recovered multiple balls, thus becoming the x-factor of the Bayern backline.

Against Hertha, he will have the opportunity to continue his excellent run of form. The 20-year-old will be keen on registering his first goal or assist in the Bundesliga, especially against the capital club that tends to act well as a defensive unit under Dardai.

Prediction

Bayern Munich 2-0 Hertha Berlin

Despite the contrasting run of form from the teams heading into this encounter, this might not be a walk in the park for favourite Bayern Munich. They still lack solidity as a unit and have struggled to break down defences, with Hertha often having the tendency to emerge as a surprisingly stable defensive unit under Dardai.

Therefore, we are expecting a close encounter, with Bayern Munich most likely sealing all three points through late goals rather than an early flurry.

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