Hertha Berlin aren’t chasing silverware themselves, but have played a significant role at the Bundesliga summit. On Saturday, they have a final chance to influence the title race when Borussia Dortmund visit the capital.
Despite a 3-1 win over VfB Stuttgart last weekend, Borussia Dortmund dropped off top spot in the Bundesliga for the first time since Matchday 5. Still level on points with leaders Bayern Munich, Lucien Favre’s side have a chance to send a message of intent by ending a near 5-year wait for a league win in the German capital.
Opponents Hertha Berlin find themselves 22 points adrift of the Bundesliga summit themselves, but they’ve nevertheless influenced proceedings in one of the fiercest title races in recent memory.
On Matchday 6 an Ondrej Duda inspired performance produced a 2-0 win at home to Bayern, before they twice came from behind to clinch a 2-2 draw in Dortmund.
Dortmund won’t have forgotten Salomon Kalou’s 91st minute equaliser, but as one of just four teams to take points off of BVB in the first half of the season, Pal Dardai wants his charges to build on their performance from Matchday 9.
“The key will to be extremely concentrated and pretty much mistake-free,” Dardai told the assembled press. “We want to, once again, give BVB very little room. A good result would be great for our club.”
Hertha have only won five times on home soil in the current campaign, but three of those wins came against Bayern, Borussia Mönchengladbach and Eintracht Frankfurt.
Borussia’s bad phase behind them?
Dortmund, meanwhile, have already dropped as many points in the second half of the season as they did before the winter break. The victory over Stuttgart was far from their most convincing performance, but stoked the belief which had begun to wane as a result of a dip in form.
“We had a phase where our results weren’t so good and believe we’ve now put it behind us. We will try everything to become German champions,” said Lucien Favre, who unlike his side has fond memories of the capital having coached Hertha between 2007 and 2009.
“I have great memories of Berlin. They were my first club in the Bundesliga. I still have a lot of contact with the players from back then like Joe Simunic.
Could a familiar face be the key to Dortmund picking up three league points in Berlin for the first time since their 4-0 win on final matchday of the 2013/14 campaign? With the title race taking on a frantic pace entering the final stretch every game is now a must win for Favre and Co.
Elsewhere on Matchday 26
- Schalke are looking for afresh start following the sacking of Domenico Tedesco. With interim head coach Huub Stevens back at the helm the Royal Blues could do with their ‘coach of the century’ conjouring up some magic against RB Leipzig.
- Werder Bremen, thus far unbeaten in 2019, have a difficult task ahead of them when they travel to Leverkusen this weekend. Peter Bosz’s side has won seven of its last eight games, outscoring opponents by a margin of 20 goals to 7.
- March is normally the time of year that Hoffenheim makes its final push to qualify for the Champions League. Two seasons ago, they won six of their last 10 games to secure fourth place. Last term, they vaulted from seventh place to third place after winning seven of their final 10 matches. After defeating Nuremburg last week, Julian Nagelsmann’s side, currently in eighth place and nine points off a top-four spot, will look to continue their winning ways in Saturday’s Rhein-Neckar derby in Stuttgart.
Matchday 26 fixtures
Borussia Mönchengladbach vs. Freiburg (Friday, 8:30 p.m. CET)
Schalke vs. Leipzig (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. CET)
Stuttgart vs. Hoffenheim
Wolfsburg vs. Düsseldorf
Augsburg vs. Hannover
Hertha Berlin vs. Borussia Dortmund (Saturday, 6:30 p.m. CET)
Leverkusen vs. Werder Bremen (Sunday, 1:30 p.m. CET)
Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Nuremburg (Sunday, 3:30 p.m. CET)
Bayern Munich vs. Mainz (Sunday, 6:00 p.m. CET)