14:30 BST, Sunday 22nd October, Schwarzwald-Stadion (Freiburg, Germany), BT Sport, ESPN
Freiburg look to continue their relatively good home form as they welcome Hertha Berlin to the Black Forest. Berlin’s league form has been less than impressive with the pressure slowly increasing on manager Pal Dardai. They were handed a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Schalke.
Freiburg, on the other hand, were at the wrong of a 5-0 thumping courtesy of Bayern Munich. The sides enter Matchday 9 sitting in 16th and 13th places respectively. Who will take the initiative and win on Sunday?
Last Time Out
Bayern Munich 5-0 Freiburg (Bundesliga)
It would be a long day for Freiburg as they made the journey to the Allianz Arena to face Bayern Munich. Freiburg fell behind after just 8 minutes when Julian Schuster, for the second consecutive week, put the ball into his own net. Bayern made it two just before halftime when Kingsley Coman headed home from close range.
Thiago Alcantara made it three just after the hour mark when his excellently driven shot gave Alexander Schwolow no chance. Robert Lewandowski got in on the act on 75 minutes before Joshua Kimmich ended the carnage in stoppage to condemn the visitors to a 5-0 defeat.
FC Zorya Luhansk – Hertha Berlin (Europa League)
Hertha Berlin looked for their first win of the Europa League campaign when they travelled to the Ukraine to face-off with Zorya Luhansk. It would be the Ukrainian side who would take the lead when Silas’ free-kick snuck under the wall and past Rune Jarstein just before halftime.
Davie Selke made his first start since joining from RB Leipzig in the summer and he did it in style, bringing Hertha Berlin level on 56 minutes when he headed home Marvin Plattenhardt’s corner. But Zorya stole all three points after a brilliant run by Oleksandr Karavayev who played in Oleksandr Svatok whose beautifully back-heeled shot ended up in the back of the net.
After their thrashing at the hands of Bayern Munich, Christian Streich will need to hit the reset button when Freiburg welcome Hertha on Sunday. Streich gave on-loan midfielder Ryan Kent his first start since coming over from Liverpool. However, the 20-year-old will make way for Marco Terrazzino this time around. Marc-Oliver Kempf is available but it’s unlikely that he’ll start this week.
Hertha Berlin Lineup
Mathew Leckie missed Hertha’s Europa League trip to the Ukraine but will be available to play against Freiburg. Hertha will be without Genki Haraguchi or Vladimír Darida who will miss out to suspension and injury respectively. Vedad Ibišević returns to the starting lineup after missing the previous two fixtures through suspension.
Key Battle: Alexander Schwolow vs Rune Jarstein
Both Alexander Schwolow and Rune Jarstein are under pressure to perform as both sides look to get back to winning ways. Freiburg’s shot-stopper Schwolow has featured in all of Freiburg’s clashes this season, making 33 saves and with 3 of those being clean sheets. Jarstein in comparison has only made 16 saves with just one clean sheet: at home against Stuttgart on Matchday 1.
Where both struggle is in the distribution department. 21 goalkeepers have featured in the Bundesliga so far with Schwolow ranked 17th in terms of his distribution. Only 59% of his kicks and throw-outs have found their target. Unfortunately for Hertha, though, Jarstein is ranked dead last in this category, with only 53% of all distributions hitting a teammate. Both need to improve if they are to retain their places as starters for their respective teams.
Making the home advantage count
Playing at the Schwarzwald-Stadion has been a tricky test for teams this season. Freiburg will need to continue in this vein if they are to avoid the drop zone. After eight games, six of the seven points Freiburg have collected have come at home, where they continue to be undefeated. Having faced a number of teams in the top half the table at home this season, with draws coming against Frankfurt and Dortmund as well as a win against Hoffenheim in their last home match, much of the same is needed as Freiburg go into this fixture.
Time to play football
Hertha Berlin did a good job in creating publicity for themselves by taking a knee prior to their match against Schalke. However, in the game itself, Schalke controlled from minute one raising questions about the focus of the Hertha players. Hertha are a notoriously bad side on the road and, if their minds aren’t set on the job at hand, they will lose in Freiburg at the weekend.
Prediction: Freiburg 1-0 Hertha Berlin
This will be a tight grind with chances coming few and far between. As they sit precariously above the relegation zone in 16th place, Freiburg will be desperate to take the points. With the Berlin side returning from the Ukraine after their mid-week fixture, don’t expect this match to be too frenetic. One goal should be enough and, if it comes at all, it will likely come late. Look out for super sub Nils Petersen coming of the bench to win the game for Freiburg.
Will it be Freiburg or Hertha Berlin returning to winning ways in week 9? Let us know in the comments section below
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