Hertha Berlin are going to have to put the off the field dramas of the past week behind them as they look for their first home win of the season against Freiburg on Sunday. The boardroom machinations regarding investor Lars Windhorst cannot be allowed to distract Sandro Schwarz’s side from a potential first three points at the Olympiastadion.
A draw last time out against Hoffenheim went alongside previous draws with Eintracht Frankfurt and Bayer Leverkusen and a defeat to Borussia Dortmund. Seven points taken from the first eight games doesn’t really reflect the improvement Hertha have made this season and how well they have played at times.
They are a little too close to the bottom for comfort so a first home win against Freiburg would do their league position a whole lot of good.
However, Freiburg arrive in the capital as joint leaders of the Bundesliga and will be seeking to continue their fantastic start to the campaign. They have already won three times on the road this season in the Bundesliga so won’t fear a trip to Berlin.
So far, the added burden of midweek European action hasn’t affected them with the Breisgauer winning all three of their Europa League matches so far. The latest was a 2-0 win over Ligue 1 side Nantes and they already look set to qualify for the next stage of the competition. Christian Streich has successfully managed his squad and the prospect of leading the table after nine games is there for Freiburg- even if the coach continues to talk of ‘avoiding relegation.’
Streich missed the midweek win over Nantes after testing positive for Coronavirus and it remains unclear as yet whether he will be back on duty on Sunday.
Sandro Schwarz will make one change with new signing Agustin Rogel coming in to make his starting debut in place of the injured Filip Uremovic. Marco Richter is pushing for a start, but the coach will probably keep faith with his settled line-up.
Possible line-up: Christensen, Kenny, Rogel, Kempf, Plattenhardt, Sunjic, Serdar, Tousart, Lukebakio, Kanga, Ejuke
Having been in Europa League action on Thursday and again next week, Christian Streich is likely to rotate his squad a little. Nils Petersen could give Michael Gregoritsch a rest, while Yannik Keitel and Lukas Kübler may be given a start.
Possible line-up: Flekken, Sildillia, Ginter, Lienhart. Günter, Eggestein, Höfler, Doan, Kyereh, Grifo, Petersen
What they’re saying:
Sandro Schwarz: “It’s about working hard again on Sunday to put in a performance that validates our day-to-day work. Freiburg have started the season really well and are extremely structured. They have also often played with the same starting eleven. They are a team that defends well strongly and aggressively. They have good solutions going forward as well.
“We will have to prepared for that with the way we want to play against them. We’re not only aware of the quality they possess but also of what we ourselves have done on the pitch in recent weeks. Now it’s time to repeat that: To defend compactly and energetically, but also to switch at the right moments and be creative in possession.
“We’ve recently achieved a level of consistency, which tells you about the boys who have been playing for us regularly. But this intensity and consistency needs to be repeated week in, week out. In training, there’s been a good level of fun and intensity, even for those lads who haven’t got a huge amount of minutes in recent weeks.
“All in all, every individual needs to deliver their own performance, but in this respect, there is a great understanding of the collective. The boys are handling their respective personal and sporting situations very well at the moment.”
Patrick Baier (assistant): “We haven’t thought about the line-up yet. The energy is already there, but it may be that we change something in one or the other person.”
02.10.22 Hoffenheim (h) 1-1 D (Bundesliga)
16.09.22 Mainz (a) 1-1 D (Bundesliga)
10.09.22 Bayer Leverkusen (h) 2-2 D (Bundesliga)
04.09.22 Augsburg (a) 0-2 W (Bundesliga)
27.08.22 Borussia Dortmund (h) 0-1 L (Bundesliga)
06.10.22 Nantes (h) 2-0 W (Europa League)
01.10.22 Mainz (h) 2-1 W (Bundesliga)
18.09.22 Hoffenheim (a) 0-0 D (Bundesliga)
15.09.22 Olympiacos (a) 0-3 W (Europa League)
11.09.22 Borussia Mönchengladbach (h) 0-0 D (Bundesliga)
The corresponding fixture last season fell on matchday 7 when another substitute goal from Nils Petersen on his 250th Bundesliga appearance sealed all three points for Freiburg.
Philipp Lienhart had headed the visitors into the lead in the 17th minute, but a Krzysztof Piatek equaliser in the 70th minute looked to have salvaged a point for Hertha. Petersen however had other ideas and a bicycle kick in the 78th minute proved the winner. It was Petersen’s 30th goal scored after coming off the bench!
Players to watch:
Chidera Ejuke is one of those players that you get excited watching as it always seems something is going to happen. There has been plenty of dribbling and flair so far, but Hertha would like to more end product in terms of final ball, decision making and assists. If he clicks, then striker Wilfried Kanga won’t be waiting too much longer for his first Hertha goal.
After signing in the summer from St. Pauli it has taken midfielder Daniel-Kofi Kyereh a while to break into the Freiburg starting XI but in recent games he has made the starts and has impressed enough to keep his place. He scored his first Bundesliga goal against Mainz last week and added another in midweek in the Europa League.