Underperformers take on overachievers in Berlin
The Berlin derby gets the Bundesliga’s gameweek 27 underway on Friday evening, with only one point separating the two teams it is an opportunity to pull away towards the top half and provide some uniquely digital bragging rights across the city. Union beat Stuttgart in the relegation/promotion playoff last season and have taken the division by surprise, punching supposedly above their weight in 12th, a cool seven points above the bottom three. Hertha have performed much better on the road this campaign, epitomised by their 3-0 win at Hoffenheim last time out, the fans will be hoping the behind closed doors effect can alter their fortunes at Olympiastadion Berlin.
Last time out
The Old Lady’s scalp was one of the standout results of the weekend, however they were fortunate to some poor finishing from the hosts. They lost the expected goals battle 2.99-1.48, and yet attacking brilliance from Matheus Cunha sealed a comfortable victory on 74 minutes. Veteran skipper Vedad Ibisevic worked tirelessly upfront and got his just rewards on the hour mark, the second goal in two minutes, setting the wheels in motion for Hertha’s second half procession.
Union gave a good account of themselves at home to league leaders Bayern Munich, conceding twice from set plays. A Robert Lewandowski penalty and towering Benjamin Pavard header were enough to see them slump to a third consecutive defeat. It was not easy for Hansi Flick’s men, they only created 0.63 non-penalty xG which speaks well of the Union defensive unit.
Scorer of arguably the goal of the weekend was Matheus Cunha, an amazing solo run finished brilliantly from a tight angle. The 20-year-old Brazilian looks to be an outstanding bit of business from the Hertha board who have showcased their deep pockets in the last couple of windows, acquiring his services for £16.2million from RB Leipzig. His pace and skill has worked brilliantly of late operating just behind a main frontman, he has bagged in his last three league outings on the trot.
Despite giving away a penalty in the last match, defensive rock Neven Subotic has been crucial to Union’s success so far this season. The former Champions League finalist joined from St. Etienne in the summer and has featured 20 times in the league. The Iron Ones have the best record outside of the top eight for keeping goals out and showed they are tough to break down against one of the form sides in world football in the last game.
With more individual quality and Union star striker Sebastian Andersson yet to return to full fitness, Hertha will edge it and continue to climb the table.