Hertha Berlin vs Bayern Munich preview:
Bavarians aiming for strong start after winter break
Photo Credit(A.Beier/GettyImages)

Bayern Munich are looking for a fresh start after the Bundesliga winter break. The first half of the season wasn’t kind for the defending champions. With Niko Kovac being sacked and dropping too many points, Bayern finished the stage on third place. But now Hans-Dieter Flick getting the Bavarians firing on all cylinders again, there’s refined hope for surmounting a proper title challenge. But Hertha Berlin are no pushovers. Jurgen Klinsmann's side is desperate for some momentum and would want to gain confidence at Bayern’s expense this weekend.

Story Behind The Match

Hertha looked to be on the upwards before the Christmas break, getting positive results against both Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Monchengladbach. Klinsmann’s effect on the side has been felt, as he’s gotten them far away from the relegation zone.

Bayern come into the game flying on all cylinders after having won their last three Bundesliga matches consecutively. They’ve rediscovered their dominant form once again and will be looking to extend their winning streak to four when they visit the German capital.

The Bavarians have a dodgy record against Der Alte Dame, having drawn with them in the reverse fixture earlier this season. In their last five games(in all competitions) Bayern have only won two and have had trouble getting all three points from the capital in recent years.

So it’s quintessential for the defending champions to break this mental blockage by getting a big win after such a long break. Hertha have almost been their bogey team in recent years, so to prove that they’re evolving into something stronger under Flick, there’s a need for a big win to keep those above them under pressure.

The Old Lady have already shown improvement under new management, but a win against a side like Bayern will be vindicative of how much they’ve grown under Klinsmann. If they’re to break into the top half or gun for a possible European place, they need to win such big games and prove their dominance at home.

Team News

The hosts don’t really have many injury worries, with young midfielder Arne Maeir being the only player unavailable with a knee injury.

The good news for Bayern is that Robert Lewandowski and Serge Gnabry have both been deemed fit to play after dealing with some niggles during the break. Kingsley Coman, however, is out with a flu. Niklas Sule, Lucas Hernandez and Javi Martinez are long-term absentees not expected to feature either.

Predicted Line-Up

Hertha Berlin XI: Jarstein, Klunter, Boyata, Rekik, Plattenhardt, Skjelberd, Darida, Lowen, Dilrosun, Lukebakio, Selke

Bayern Munich XI: Neuer, Pavard, Boateng, Alaba, Davies, Kimmich, Gnabry, Muller, Coutinho, Perisic, Lewandowski

Key Clashes

Robert Lewandowski vs Dedryck Boyata

Dedryck Boyata is yet to properly win over the Hertha Berlin fans with his defensive work. If he wants to make a statement, the perfect occasion would be on Sunday to shut shop on Robert Lewandowski. The Polish striker is hungry as ever to break Gerd Muller’s record of the most goals scored in a single Bundesliga season. This should be a feisty affair. Boyata will look to nullify his threat by keeping a close eye and crunching him with challenges to aid his side. Lewandowski aims to start from where he left things off, getting into prime positions, fooling defenders and scoring goals to win Bayern another match.

Javairo Dilrosun vs Benjamin Pavard

Benjamin Pavard has had some real highs and lows at Bayern Munich, but his defensive strength have come under the hammer on a few occasions this season. Javairo Dilrosun’s probably Hertha’s biggest threat going forward. Packed with pace, plenty of trickery and lethality in the final third, the 21-year-old has the potential to run rings around any defender. Pavard needs to bring his A-game to the table to keep the young Dutch winger at bay and make sure Hertha can’t overload pressure into his defence.