Borussia Dortmund vs Hertha BSC Preview: Can injury-hit BVB stop high-flying Berlin?

Borussia Dortmund vs Hertha BSC Preview: Can injury-hit BVB stop high-flying Berlin?

Thomas Tuchel's side are looking to bounce back from their defeat at Bayer Leverkusen, but Hertha will want to continue their impressive start to the season.

James Rees

The Bundesliga returns after the international break with a big match, as two of the top three come face-to-face in Dortmund.

Injury-ravaged Borussia Dortmund will be looking to bounce back from their defeat to Bayer Leverkusen in their last match, however Hertha BSC have started the season strongly and currently sit above them in the table.

Will Dortmund still have enough talent available to leapfrog their opponents and close the gap on Bayern Munich, or will Hertha draw level with the champions?

Third versus second

Perhaps a little surprisingly, Hertha go into this game ahead of Dortmund in the table, sitting in second place with only Bayern ahead of them.

Dortmund went into the international break on the back on a surprise 2-0 defeat at Leverkusen, which left them four points behind the champions after just six games. They have looked in imperious form at times this season, but also lost at RB Leipzig on matchday two.

However at home they have won all three of their league games so far, and if they at least avoid defeat on Friday they will break their record for most home games without defeat. Their 3-1 win over SC Freiburg three weeks ago saw them draw level with the existing record of 24 games, set between 2001 and 2003.

A poor end to last season and an early exit from the UEFA Europa League left Hertha looking vulnerable this season after impressing for so much of the last one. That has proved unfounded though, with just one defeat, against Bayern, so far.

After that defeat, and the 3-3 draw against Eintracht Frankfurt, they returned to winning ways against Hamburger SV two weeks ago, when Vedad Ibisevic scored a double.

Recent record at Dortmund better for Hertha

In 64 meetings between the two sides over the years, Dortmund have the better record, winning 31 times, with Hertha winning 18. In Dortmund though, the home side have a convincing record, winning 21 of 33 matches, with Hertha winning just five.

Four of those have been in the last decade though, with the last back in December 2013, with Adrián Ramos and Sami Allagui earning them a 2-1 win after Marco Reus's early goal.

They also won the time before that, in the 2011-12 season, however the last two encounters at Signal Iduna Park have been won by Dortmund, with last season’s game ending in a 3-1 win. Ramos was again on the scoresheet, only this time for Dortmund, along with Mats Hummels and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

The league game in Berlin ended in a goalless draw, but Dortmund returned there in April in the DFB-Pokal, and they won 3-0, with three more different scorers getting the goals – Gonzalo Castro, Marco Reus and Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

War of words over Tuchel’s foul concerns

The press conferences of the two managers were dominated by the fallout from comments made by Thomas Tuchel after the Leverkusen match, where he said that teams committed too many fouls on his players.

His Hertha counterpart Pál Dárdai called him out on this, and said he feared his comments would influence referees. “Now when the first yellow is drawn [to a Hertha player], it is because of statements by Mr Tuchel,” he said.

Tuchel responded by defending what he said. "I did not demand red cards or anything for anyone. “All I criticised was the imbalance between fouls committed and received,” he argued. "In my opinion 20 fouls per match are way over the line."

Dortmund had had at least that many fouls against them in half of their matches so far, with Tuchel adding “I have a suspicion there is a method behind it." He also denied claims by Hertha’s sporting director Michael Preetz that he was a “bad loser” for making the comments after the Leverkusen defeat.

Ten players out for Dortmund

Dortmund come back from the international break in the midst of a major injury crisis, with Lukasz Piszczek, Sokratis, Raphaël Guerreiro and Ousmane Dembélé all returning from international duty with injuries, and Castro, who hadn't earned a call up with the Germany squad, picking up an abductor muscle tear in training.

Add to that players who were already injured, André Schürrle, Ramos, Sven Bender, Reus, Neven Subotic and Eric Durm, and you can realise the extent of their current problems.

Dembélé, along with Marc Barta, who has missed the last three games, should be available though, although Tuchel remains wary. "If the last few days have taught us anything, it's that you cannot take anything for granted," he said.

Although far from as big as Dortmund's Hertha have a few injury concerns of their own. Fabian Lustenberger and Julian Schieber have both been ruled out, joining Peter Pekarík, Vladimír Darida and Ondrej Duda in the treatment room.

Niklas Stark will play in midfield in the absence of Lustenberger, with John Anthony Brooks taking his place back in defence after recovering from adductor problems. Having struggled with back problems and personal issues, Salomon Kalou is not fit enough to start, but is likely to appear from the bench.

Dárdai will assess how tired Genki Haraguchi is ahead of the game following his return from Melbourne, where he scored Japan’s goal in a 1-1 draw with Australia. Dortmund’s Shinji Kagawa played the full 90 minutes in that game as well, but Tuchel might just have enough options still available to rest him.

Predicted line-ups

Borussia Dortmund: (4-1-4-1) Bürki; Passlac, Ginter, Bartra, Schmelzer; Weigl; Mor, Rode, Götze, Pulisic; Aubameyang.

Hertha BSC: (4-2-3-1) Jarstein; Weiser, Brooks, Langkamp, Plattenhardt; Skjelbred; Stark; Esswein, Stocker, Haraguchi; Ibisevic.

Quotes via Borussia Dortmund, Kicker and Four Four Two.