After six long years without European football in the nation’s capital, Hertha Berlin have made their return after a fantastic and unexpected season. Last time the capital club featured in the competition was in the 2009/2010 campaign, where they edged out Brøndby to reach the group stages – whilst fans will hope to have repeat fortunes this time around. A first leg 1-0 home victory at the Friedrich-Ludwig-Jahn-Sportpark has put them on course to reach the next round, but a trip to Denmark could still yet prove a tough task for the die Alte Dame.
The first leg in Berlin went very well for the German outfit, they started positively and got the ball into dangerous attacking areas causing Brøndby plenty of problems. The one goal came from a bicycle kick from Vedad Ibisevic in the first half which would prove to be crucial going into this second leg. Hertha had created plenty more opportunities, but were unable to break through again.
Pál Dárdai had alluded to the absolute importance of a clean sheet in Europe and he will most likely go this way again to try and secure the tie early in Denmark.
They played a stable 4-2-3-1 formation, missing the first leg; key players Valentin Stocker, Thomas Kraft and new acquisition Ondrej Duda. Hertha could start with the same side who started in Berlin, whilst. Niklas Stark, Genki Haraguchi and Julian Schieber all came off the substitute’s bench to make an appearance.
Brøndby lined up with a 4-1-3-2 in the first leg whilst they did well to hold a 1-0 deficit going into their home leg tomorrow evening. Head Coach Alexander Zorniger will not feel disheartened after the performance his young side put in away from home. The Copenhagen based side had a strong team out and will look to stay solid and use home comforts to their advantage as they look to get back into the tie. Christian Jakobsen, Rudolph Austin and Hany Mukhtar all made appearances in the first leg, whilst the latter two could earn a possible start in this second leg.
Teemu Pukki – A name that has been around for a while and still at only 26-years-old, Pukki has plenty to offer to Brøndby and definitely to this tie. The Finnish international has scored goals wherever he has gone in his career. He has since lost his way from his days at Schalke 04 and Celtic but after a successful loan spell and permanent move to Brøndby over the space of two seasons, he has finally found his feet with 19 goals in 60 games.
Playing alongside the strong Kamil Wilczek will only aid Pukki up top and this partnership could spell trouble for Hertha. Finding space should be less difficult with a strike partner and with Brøndby having to score to stay in the competition, he may get a chance or two to claw them back into this tie.
Salomon Kalou – The most experienced player on the pitch tomorrow evening when it comes to this European competition between the two sides. He may be getting older but has still not lost the goal scoring touch in recent seasons with 20 goals in 60 competitive games.
Ibisevic may get isolated but Kalou will be that extra threat in the box. His movement and pace will cause problems for the Brøndby back line. Most modern left wingers will try and cut inside and make space for the overlapping full back or the striker to make runs, and Kalou is no different. He’s been there and done it with Chelsea and this will help in the dressing room with the less experienced players when it comes to knockout rounds in Europe.
A very important game for both teams who are still trying to find their way to full fitness, whilst wanting progression into the group stages. Hertha have a little too much quality for Brøndby but it will still be a close affair and it will be very important to get the balance right this game. The home advantage could be crucial.
There is no more time for trial and error so it should be a good tie, Brøndby have to go for it and get at least a goal and if Hertha score the tie is likely to be over. It will be interesting to see how Dárdai sets out his team, whilst you would think they will just scrape it.
Result: Brøndby 1-1 Hertha BSC