14:30 (BST); Saturday 14th October; Olympiastadion (Berlin, Germany)
Schalke make the journey to the capital in need of a victory as they play Hertha Berlin on matchday 8. Hertha Berlin have had an indifferent season so far but they produced an excellent comeback last time out against Bayern Munich to give fans hope for a return to form. The two sides enter the clash separated by a point and win would see either team comfortably in the top half of the standings at the end of the matchday.
Last time out
Hertha Berlin 2-2 Bayern Munich
Hertha Berlin looked to atone for their poor week as they welcomed the record champions to the Olympiastadion. Bayern were rampant in the early going when Mats Hummels scored within the opening ten minutes before Robert Lewandowski made it two just after the break.
But Hertha would come back when Ondrej Duda scored his first Bundesliga goal of his career. The Salomon Kalou put Berlin level just minutes later to see Pál Dárdai’s side secure a crucial point.
Schalke 1-1 Bayer Leverkusen
Schalke look to break a two game losing streak as they hosted Bayer Leverkusen on Friday night. Domenico Tedesco’s side came out strongly when Yevhen Konoplyanka tested Bernd Leno, but the Leverkusen shot was up to the task. It would take something special to put a goal on the board and Leon Goretzka did just that. His curling free-kick coming just over the wall leaving Leno rooted to the spot.
However, Leverkusen were much better in the second half and introducing Leon Bailey caused Schalke plenty of problems. It would be Bailey who would eventually find the equaliser when his deflected shot left Ralf Fährmann stranded. The draw was a fair result for both sides.
Hertha Berlin Lineup
A good fight back from Hertha Berlin saw Pál Dárdai’s side secure a massive draw against Bayern last time out. Salomon Kalou will once again lead the line for Hertha with club captain Vedad Ibišević out due to suspension. Niklas Stark and Karim Rekik are set to be the central defensive pair for Hertha as Berlin go unchanged.
Schalke need to break the funk they are in, which has seen them winless in their previous three matches. Breel Embolo led the line for Schalke against Bayer Leverkusen but I expect Guido Burgstaller to start up top against Hertha. Weston McKennie will miss due to injury with Nabil Bentaleb coming back into the starting XI. Two changes expected from Domenico Tedesco.
Key Battle: Vladimir Darida vs Leon Goretzka
Vladimir Darida is undoubtedly Hertha Berlin’s best player and he will be a pivotal input for Pál Dárdai’s side this time around. The Czech midfielder can play in expansive areas whether it’s playing the #10 role behind or he where we expect him to play is in central midfield alongside Per Skjelbred. Look for Darida to pull the strings for Berlin against Schalke.
A midfielder that has received plenty of attention has been Schalke’s Leon Goretzka as he continues to impress. Goretzka was with the national team during the international break where he scored an unbelievable back-heel goal against Azerbaijan. Goretzka is similar to Darida as he can play in deep areas in midfield but also in more attacking positions on the pitch. The 22-year-old will play a crucial role for Schalke.
Schalke have taken a back seat in the vast majority of games which has been frustrating for fans and manager Domenico Tedesco. The Royal Blues have had 47% of possession throughout the opening seven matches which isn’t what you expect from a Schalke team, especially with the playing style implemented by Tedesco which see’s them play from the back and played through the midfield. If Schalke are to come away with the three points against Berlin, they must take the initiative in the capital.
Testing Ralf Fährmann
Hertha Berlin haven’t been a strong team going forward with the capital club taking 54 shots this season, this is 14 less than the second worst team in Wolfsburg. They have the best shot accuracy in the league at 55%, but that means little when you don’t pose a threat on the opposition goal. Berlin will look to test Ralf Fährmann who has only kept one clean sheet this season. If Hertha are to win on Saturday, they need to pepper the goal mouth.
Prediction: Hertha Berlin 2-0 Schalke
Hertha Berlin are an excellent home team and Schalke haven’t exactly asserted themselves on the road. Schalke have high expectations of Europe and will be desperate to get on top in this clash. However, I feel as if Hertha Berlin will find ways through the Royal Blues with the use of their wide play with Genki Haraguchi and Mathew Leckie terrorising the wing backs. It will be an interesting clash but it will be Hertha keeping the points at home.
Will Hertha Berlin continue its good form at home or can Schalke steal the points in the capital? Let us know in the comments section below
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