This weekend sees yet another battle at the bottom of the Bundesliga table as 14th place Hertha Berlin hosts 13th place Werder Bremen at the Olympiastadion on Saturday afternoon. Only one point separates the two sides going into this contest, so it’s clear both will be desperate for all three this time around.
Each team played and lost this past Tuesday. Bremen’s result wasn’t too bad, as they were narrowly beaten by Borussia Monchengladbach on the road. The same cannot be said for Berlin, though, as they were smashed at home 3-0 against fellow relegation rivals Hoffenheim.
Those scorelines will only put more pressure on the two teams going into this match, which should set the stage for a thrilling encounter.
With the number of games played as of late, it’s not a surprise to see both teams dealing with a number of injuries at the moment.
Berlin are in the midst of a crisis at the back as defenders Marton Dardai, Marvin Plattenhardt, and Dedryck Boyata have all been ruled out for the matchup.
Further up the pitch, midfielder Eduard Lowen is still dealing with a thigh problem while winger Javairo Dilrosun has yet to recover from his knee injury.
Things aren’t as bad for Bremen, but the situation still isn’t ideal. Patrick Erras and Christian Groß are both out for a few more weeks, while fullback Ludwig Augustinsson will just miss out as well.
The most concerning news for the Green-Whites is that top scorer Niclas Fullkrug hurt his ankle just as he was supposed to return to the starting lineup, so he won’t be featuring anytime soon.
Hertha Berlin: Schwolow, Zeefuik, Stark, Alderete, Mittelstaedt, Darida, Tousart, Guendouzi, Cunha, Lukebakio, Cordoba
Werder Bremen: Pavlenka, Veljkovic, Toprak, Friedl, Gebre Selassie, Mbom, Eggestein, Mohwald, Agu, Sargent, Rashica
Ones to watch
The only consistent player in a very inconsistent Berlin side, Matheus Cunha will likely have to carry the attacking load once again this weekend.
Many were quick to write him off as a Bundesliga flop when a move to RB Leipzig didn’t work out, but the forward has thrived in the capital for Hertha. He was really good at the end of last season, scoring in four straight games at one point, and he’s carried that momentum into this campaign.
Cunha has seven goals and six assists so far in all competitions, which is an impressive tally at this stage of the year. He’s been a mainstay in the Berlin attack, constantly in the starting lineup as those around him change on a weekly basis.
Incredibly quick and skillful, the Brazilian is a threat whenever he gets on the ball. He’s also a very well rounded player, as he can play up top, behind the striker, or as a winger on either side.
If Hertha are to have any chance of winning on Saturday, they’ll need Cunha to create some sort of magic. Thankfully for them, he seems up for the challenge.
Speaking of players who have to shoulder a lot of responsibility, Bremen will hope the return of Milot Rashica will be what sparks them going forward.
Unable to feature for most of the season due to injury, the Green-Whites have struggled in Rashica’s absence. No one can really create chances on their own in the team, which leads to them relying on crosses and set-pieces to get goals. The stats prove that, as only five Bundesliga teams have scored less goals than Bremen this season.
Recently Rashica has been forced to settle for cameos off the bench as he attempted to build up match fitness, but it seems like he’ll be ready to start this time around. He’s shown signs of promise during those appearances, and now is the perfect time to get him back to his best.
The Kosovo international, when in form, is one of the most exciting players in Europe. Unbelievably fast, he uses his speed and dribbling ability to blow past defenders. Once he creates space, then Rashica will either pick out an open teammate or go for goal himself. It’s usually the latter, to be fair, which is showcased by how many screamers he has already scored in his blossoming career.
Bremen need a hero, so they'll be hoping their rocket man is finally ready to fire once again.
Last time out
The two sides faced off on the opening day of the season, but the result makes the game seem like it happened much longer ago.
After early chances on both sides of the field, it would be Berlin who took the lead in the 42nd minute. A low cross from Maximilian Mittelstaedt somehow rolled across the entire penalty area, eventually making its way towards the backpost. Fellow fullback Peter Pekarik was the one who reacted quickest, jumping in front of his marker to poke home from close range.
They made it two before the break after a devastating counter attacking move. Vladimir Darida picked up the ball in midfield before driving upfield and playing Dodi Lukebakio in behind on the left-hand side. The Belgian would make no mistake with the finish, taking a touch before slamming a shot towards the near post and into the back of the net.
Darida would get involved once again, setting up Hertha’s third goal at the hour mark which put the contest to bed. He slid a pass towards Matheus Cunha, and his first time shot snuck underneath Jiri Pavlenka before trickling across the line.
Bremen did pull one back after a quality header from Davie Selke, but Jhon Cordoba hit on the break to re-establish Berlin’s three goal advantage before fulltime. That’s how the contest would end, with many at the time seeing the result as the start to Hertha’s rise. How wrong they would be.
How to watch
Those in the UK will be able to watch the contest on BT Sport 2, while those in the United States can see the action unfold on ESPN+.