Written by Valdis Pans
By Valdis Pans
Two teams from Berlin, both currently occupying the middle of the table in the Bundesliga, face off against each other in the German capital’s derby, as the local Hertha take on the league newcomers Union. Kick-off - at 2:30 PM ET on Friday, May 22.
Hertha Berlin Triumph In Hoffenheim
A victory brought Hertha Berlin back from the coronavirus break, as the Die Alte Dame won for the first time in four contests (W1 D2 L1) after beating Hoffenheim 3-0 at PreZero Arena on Saturday. The hosts conceded a 58th-minute own goal before Vedad Ibisevic netted against his former team, with January signing Matheus Cunha capping Hertha’s triumph off with his third snipe in as many games. The team has now moved up to 11th place in the league (W8 D7 L11), eight points clear of the bottom three.
With five goals and five assists, Belgian-Congolese right-winger Dodi Lukebakio leads the team in scoring. Ibisevic is 2nd in goals with four markers. Goalie Rune Jarstein, meanwhile, sits 3rd in the Bundesliga with 88 shots stopped thus far this year, topping off his showing with six clean sheets in 22 starts. He allows a goal every 52 minutes on average. Hertha Berlin are 11th in most goals scored (35), 2nd from the bottom in shots taken (10.9 per game), 14th in ball possession (46.8%) and 12th in passing accuracy (77.1%).
Union Berlin Fail Versus Bayern
Bundesliga newcomers Union Berlin recorded a consecutive defeat for the first time since the first game of the calendar year of 2020 after dropping a 2-0 decision against league-leading Bayern Munich, who beat the Iron Ones at An der Alten Forsterei on Sunday. Union Berlin, who are enjoying their first-ever campaign in Germany’s top tier, failed to score on their own turf only for the third time this season, as the reigning German champions banked a penalty at the end of the first half, adding a headed strike from a corner with 10 minutes remaining in the contest. The Iron Ones sit 12th in the league (W9 D3 L14), seven points clear of the bottom three.
Swedish forward Sebastian Andersson tops Union Berlin’s scoring chart with 11 markers, having scored in three consecutive starts prior to Sunday when he came on as a 71st-minute substitute. Goalie Rafal Gikiewicz, meanwhile, is 2nd in the whole league in most saves collected (95), having also posted six clean sheets in 26 outings. He concedes a goal every 54 minutes. Union Berlin, meanwhile, is 4th from the bottom in most goals scored (32), 13th in shots delivered (12.4 per game), and 2nd worst in both ball possession (43.7%) and passing accuracy (69.8%).
Bruno Labbadia’s reign as the new manager of Hertha Berlin started with a rousing 3-0 road thumping of Hoffenheim last Saturday and is set to continue with another positive result in Berlin, where the team has failed to win a single contest since a 1-0 victory against Freiburg on Dec. 14. Playing in their first-ever Bundesliga campaign, Union Berlin have proved they are more than capable of holding their own when it comes to tussles with the big boys. They have already beaten Hertha 1-0 on their own turf back in November and are W2 D2 L1 against their city rivals in Germany’s first two highest leagues since 2010. Still, the way Hertha performed in their first match under their new head coach last weekend was just too impressive to cancel out a similar performance by Die Alte Dame. Especially versus a team, which has already dropped three of its last five decisions, winning just one of them (W1 D1 L3).
Hertha Berlin to win (+130)