Bundesliga Preview | Hertha Berlin vs Union Berlin – Can Hertha claim their first derby win since 2020?

It’s always a fixture that sticks out in the calendar, even if you’re not a resident of the city or fan of either Union Berlin or Hertha Berlin. It’s a fixture steeped in history and in more recent times has magnified the gap between both clubs. 

Union Berlin are historically the ‘smaller’ team and have spent most of their life in the second and third divisions, both pre and post-wall. However, since their famous rise to the Bundesliga in 2018, Die Eisernen have just about overtaken Hertha in every single department both on and off the pitch. 

Once again, the Berlin derby is played between a Union side still flying high in the Bundesliga and a Hertha team looking at possible relegation. 

In their last five meetings in all competitions, Union Berlin have won four and drawn one. The last win came on the opening day of this season when the Irons won 3-1 in front of a home crowd. You’d have to go back to December 2020 to see when Hertha last got the better of their city neighbours. 

Currently, Union are 2nd and just three points off top spot, whereas Hertha have one win in five Bundesliga games and occupy 17th position, two points from safety. 

This is a huge game for both teams for very different reasons. Union could further strengthen their chances of finishing in the European places with a win and pile even more pressure on their city rivals at the same time. At the top, it’s the tightest it’s been for some years and, Union need to take advantage of that. 

For Hertha, they need victories and fast. It was announced this week that forward Chidera Ejuke will be out for eight weeks due to a suspected knee ligament injury. However, Florian Niederlechner should be available for selection having moved to the capital from FC Augsburg sooner than expected. 

Having just been hammered 5-0 in their own backyard by an in-form VfL Wolfsburg side, Hertha can’t afford another embarrassment in front of their home fans. When you’re down the bottom, home form is crucial to survival. There is sure to be a good turnout by the Hertha faithful, and the players will need to use that to their advantage. However, the crowd could turn just as fast should they see the same mistakes that happened against Wolfsburg. 

Earlier in the week, Union came from behind to beat Werder Bremen away 2-1. Playing a 3-5-2 on the night, you’d expect Uwe Fischer not to change a winning formula. Should Hertha keep a similar shape as they did against Wolfsburg (4-2-3-1), they could be outnumbered in midfield and lose grip of the game. Earlier in the season, Hertha opted for a 4-3-3. Sandro Schwarz could be tempted to return to a similar formation with new signing Niederlechner leading the line. Wingers Dodi Lukebakio and Marco Richter could invert to a 4-5-1 system without the ball. 

It’s set to be yet another intriguing Berlin derby with lots at stake for both clubs. Just because Hertha are in a poor run form, don’t rule them out completely. It’s moments like this where a season can change, and just one win could galvanise the entire squad. 

GGFN | Jamie Allen

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