Hertha BSC v Dortmund
Borussia Dortmund travel to Berlin on Saturday afternoon, where they take on Hertha, hoping to build on their success last weekend and continue their long slow haul up the Bundesliga table.
Dortmund’s nightmare start to their domestic season has been well-documented, at one time slipping into bottom place after a run of eight games that produced just one solitary point. Jurgen Klopp has been as mystified as anyone by this form from a team that deservedly finished second to Bayern Munich last term, especially in the light of their successful Champions League campaign that saw them win their first four group games, and finally getting the point they needed against Anderlecht on Wednesday to just pip Arsenal for top spot on goal difference. The tide finally turned with a 1-0 win at home to Borussia moenchengladbach before the last international break, and despite frustrating 2-0 reversals at Arsenal and Eintracht Frankfurt, their 2-2 draw at Paderborn helped paved the way for last weekend’s vital 1-0 home win against a useful Hoffenheim side. Klopp has started to ring the changes, bring in Australian keeper, Mitchell Langerak. to replace the long-serving Roman Weidenfeller in goal, and after the clean sheet last weekend, he looks set for an extended run between the posts. Klopp might need to be equally ruthless in other areas too, especially up front where Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is top scorere with a mere four league goals. Klopp – who looks set to be without Marco Reus (ankle), Sokratis Papastathopoulos (leg) and Ji Dong-won (thigh) – undoubtedly needs more from his forwards and Ciro Immobile’s “settling in” period cannot go on indefinitely before he starts producing the goods or pays the price.
Dortmund come across a Hertha side in equally dire straits at the wrong end of the division. In a congested Bundesliga where the entire bottom half of the table is covered by just five points, two straight wins or two straight losses could spell the difference between being eighth or bottom. Hertha have struggled all season with consistency, with each of their last two league wins being immediately followed by two defeats. Coach Jos Luhukay could perhaps think his side were unlucky to finish on the wrong side of a 1-0 scoreline against Bayern Munich a fortnight ago, and last week they again finished a goal short of a result, running out 3-2 losers at Borussia Moenchengladbach. The closeness of those result give Luhukay and his players some cause for optimism against a team with their own problems, and with Saloman Kalou up front, they will always be a danger going forward if their defence can stop leaking goals. He could also point to the fact that his Berlin side have won both of their last visits to Dortmund and should be able to reproduce that form on their own turf.