Hertha vs Östersund – Thursday, December 7, 20:00GMT/21:00CET – Olympiastadion, Berlin, Germany
When Hertha kick off on Thursday night against Östersunds FK, the game will be all about the Swedish underdog. A first-time Swedish Cup winners in during the 2016-17 season Östersund are enjoying an exceptional debut UEFA campaign. The tiny club from Northern Sweden eliminated Galatasaray, Fola Esch and PAOK during the qualifying phase and reached the round of 32 with a game to spare.
Coached by the Englishman Graham Potter Östersunds FK are in many ways more than just a football club. Potter has brought together a squad of rejects and build a well-oiled machine, that has surprised the likes of Athletic Bilbao and Hertha in the Europa League this season, by making his players take part in cultural events in Östersund—including theatre performances and stand-up comedy.
Östersunds FK have already qualified for the next round and are currently even in first place of Group J. Hertha in the meantime have been a disappointment in the group. The club from the German capital could have stayed in contention with a victory over Bilbao on matchday 5 of the Europa League. Twice Hertha were up-front, and twice Bilbao equalised. The Spanish side eventually found the winner that would kick Hertha out of the competition.
Hertha, who are currently 12th in the Bundesliga table, can now focus on the Bundesliga. For Östersunds FK the party, however, continues and with the positive wipes surrounding the club, it would not be a surprise for the Swedes to take all three points on Thursday.
Hertha vs Östersund – Players to look out for:
Valentino Lazaro #20 – Hertha
Initially signed on loan from Red Bull Salzburg this summer Valentino Lazaro has overcome an early injury to establish himself in Hertha’s starting eleven. As a result, Hertha have already triggered his buyout clause making a move from Salzburg permanent. A quick and versatile attacking winger Lazaro brings the creative attacking spark that Hertha have lacked in recent years.
Saman Ghoddos #93 – Östersunds FK
Currently Östersunds top goalscorer in the Allsvenskan, Saman Ghoddos has been leading the line in Sweden. The Iranian attacker has been at the club since 2016 and is becoming an essential component of Östersunds attacking style of play. Not only can Ghoddos score but he can assist as well. Four assists in the Allsvenskan suggests that he can produce and provide in abundance. On the European stage, Ghoddos has been just as effective as he has in Sweden. Scoring four goals in the Europa League and spurring Östersunds FK forward, the Iranian has played an essential role in the underdog story of the Swedish side.
Hertha vs Östersund – Match Stats
- Östersund’s first meeting with German opponents brought a 1-0 home win over Hertha on matchday two, a 22nd-minute penalty from Iraqi midfielder Brwa Nouri deciding the outcome at the Jämtkraft Arena.
- Hertha had won all three previous UEFA encounters with Swedish sides, including one at home – a 3-1 victory over Elfsborg in the 1971/72 UEFA Cup.
- Hertha have not conceded in any of their last three European home games and have lost only one of their last eight (W4 D3).
- Östersund have a perfectly balanced away record in Europe (W2 D1 L2), scoring six goals and shipping the same number.
- Östersund are the first Swedish club to qualify for the knockout phase of the UEFA Europa League.
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Hertha vs Östersund 2-0
Hertha vs Östersund – Lineups
Klinsmann – Mittelstädt, Torunarigha, Langkamp, Pekarik – Maier, Lustenberger – Kalou, Lazaro – Esswein, Selke
Head Coach: Pal Dardai
Keita – Papagiannopoulos, Mukibi, Pettersson – Somi, Nouri, Bachirou, Edwards – Sema, Gero, Ghoddos
Head Coach: Graham Potter
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and social media editor at Bundesliga.com. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which will be available in print soon. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.