Hertha Berlin versus Bayern Munich doesn’t sound like your usual top six clash, but thanks to Hertha’s amazing start to the season, that’s exactly what it’s billed as.
Bayern travel to Berlin on the back of a disappointing draw with Augsburg, which saw Niko Kovac rotate many of his key players and then come undone by a youngster the club let go in the summer – Felix Gotze. If that name sounds familiar, it should be. The 20-year-old defender is the younger brother of World Cup winner Mario Gotze, and is finally getting a chance to step out of his brother’s shadow since leaving Munich.
Kovac is likely to bring back in some of his bigger names for Hertha, with Robert Lewandowski returning to the attack to replace the ineffective Sandro Wagner. David Alaba will be back at left-back after the experiment of trying Leon Goretzka there backfired. Goretzka was also used as a winger at the World Cup by Joachim Low, but needs to play as a central midfielder in order to show off his full talents.
Despite Bayern’s big guns returning, this shouldn’t be just seen as an easy three points for the league leaders. Hertha had been unbeaten before their 3-1 midweek loss to Werder Bremen and boast three players in the top 10 goalscorer chart.
Ondrej Duda is clear at the top with four goals in five games, a phenomenal return for an attacking midfielder who has been a revelation in Pal Dardai’s free-flowing side. The 23-year-old Slovakia international has been in Berlin for three seasons, but injuries have meant his chances thusfar were extremely limited. He made just nine starts last season, but already has half that many in 2018-19.
Duda has been lethal from free-kicks this season, but his all round play has also helped Hertha’s attack with defenders having to check runs from any of their four forwards. Vedad Ibisevic has a return of three goals in five games so far this season while Javairo Dilsorun added his second of the season in the defeat to Werder.
A 7-0 win over Nurnberg properly announced the arrival of Favreball, with Lucien Favre’s young stars taking control of second spot in the Bundesliga table. They face a much more difficult proposition in Saturday’s late game, travelling to Bayer Leverkusen.
B04 have underperformed so far this season, but with attackers like Leon Bailey, Julian Brandt, Kai Havertz, and Kevin Volland, they are capable of taking points against anyone. However, Marco Reus is in the form of his life, while Christian Pulisic has two goals and two assists since turning 20 earlier this month.
England youth international Jadon Sancho continues to be an excellent impact substitute, adding a goal and an assist to his already impressive tally despite playing just over 15 minutes on Wednesday. Paco Alcacer returned to the bench for the rout, and now that he has proven his fitness, will be a likely starter in Leverkusen.
Schalke received some good news – which was well needed given their terrible form so far – with the return of Weston McKennie to training. The United States international will likely miss out this weekend against Mainz, but Domenico Tedesco needs all the help he can get if he is to save his job.
Tedesco guided Schalke to second last season, but despite that is under pressure thanks to five straight league defeats. A win over Mainz is needed if they are to stand any chance of finishing in a European place again this year. Sebastian Rudy was benched for the loss to Freiburg, but should return to the starting XI against Mainz, while Germany Under-21 midfielder Suat Serdar could be kept in favour of former Spurs man Nabil Bentaleb.
Tedesco has plenty of options, but needs to pick the right ones or else he could end up watching Schalke’s Champions League campaign from home.