Manuel Veth –
Union Berlin vs Hertha Berlin – Saturday, November 2, 17:30GMT/18:30CET – Stadion an der Alten Försterei, Berlin, Germany
The anticipation is gigantic. Berlin will host a city derby in the Bundesliga for the first time since April 1977. The Berlin derby has been widely anticipated ever since Union Berlin celebrated promotion after two difficult relegation-playoff games against VfB Stuttgart.
Shown in 205 countries around the world the match will be a high-risk game. The younger fans of both sides care very little that the two clubs had a fan friendship during the time of Germany’s separation of East and West.
“For us, it will be important to find a good mix between aggressiveness and coolness,” Union head coach Urs Fischer said this week. “Both teams will do everything to win the game.”
Union, in particular, will head into the game with some confidence. In the Bundesliga die Eisernen took all three points against Freiburg two weeks ago and were more than a match against Bayern in their 2-1 defeat at the Allianz Arena. A midweek 3-1 victory, once again over Freiburg, rounds up a series of good performances that give Union fans the feeling that their club has finally arrived in the Bundesliga.
“It will be a difficult task,” Fischer said. “We have to confirm the positive trend from the last few games.”
Hertha, in the meantime, look to recover from what was an emotional DFB Pokal fight against Dynamo Dresden midweek. Dresden had brought 30,000 fans to the capital and their club had Hertha on the brink of elimination. Only a last-minute goal by Jordan Torunarigha and penalty heroics by Thomas Kraft secured Hertha’s victory over Dynamo.
The game, however, was a good preparation for what Hertha can expect at the Alte Försterei. “Against Dresden, we had 70,000 people in the stadium, that was almost like a cup final,” Hertha striker Vedad Ibisević said this week. “The game on Saturday will be a bit different. But it will be a hot atmosphere.”
“We know what we have to do,” Ibisevič added knowing full well the importance of the derby. “We have to show personality,” Hertha’s Davie Selke said. “It is one of the most important games of the season and we want to win it.”
Unlike Wednesday, Hertha will not have the luxury of extra-time and penalties to defeat their city rivals. Those extra 30 minutes and the penalty shootout could be a factor, as could be the Alte Försterei where Union Berlin have to collect their points to stay in the league.
Union Berlin vs Hertha Berlin – Players to look out for:
Robert Andrich #30 – Union Berlin
Robert Andrich is a Hertha Berlin product. Born in Potsdam, just outside of Berlin, Andrich, however, has very little love for his former club. “My chapter at Hertha has been closed,” Andrich said this week. The central midfielder will be a key player in the derby. Andrich is someone, who can be counted on when things get difficult. “I love it when I get screamed at,” Andrich said. “Every team always focuses on what they are good at. Our strength is the physical elements and we should make the most of it.”
Marius Wolf #30 – Hertha Berlin
On loan from Borussia Dortmund, Marius Wolf will be a key player for Hertha on Saturday. “He runs a lot, is dynamic and has a strong personality,” teammate Pascal Köpke said to kicker this week. “Marius is very talented,” Hertha’s sporting director Michael Preetz added. “He never gets nervous and always goes for the ball.” Hertha would like to keep the attacking midfielder in Berlin and have an option to make the transfer permanent for €20 million.
Union Berlin vs Hertha Berlin – Match Stats
- This is the first time the two clubs meet each other in the Bundesliga.
- For the first time since 2010/11, there will be a city derby in the Bundesliga. The last city derby took place between Hamburger SV and FC St.Pauli and ended 0-1.
- The last Berlin derby took place on April 16, 1977. Tennis Borussia Berlin defeated Hertha Berlin 2-0.
- Only Augsburg has recorded fewer shots than the two Berlin clubs. Union have had 103 shots, Hertha 99 throughout the season.
- No other clubs in the Bundesliga have more homegrown players. Both teams feature seven players from Berlin.
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Union Berlin vs Hertha Berlin – 2-1
Union Berlin vs Hertha Berlin – Lineups
Gikiewicz – Trimmel, Friedrich, Subotić, Lenz – Gentner, Andrich – Ingvartsen, Bülter – Ujah, Andersson
Head Coach: Urs Fischer
Jarstein – Klünter, Stark, Rekik, Mittelstädt – Skjelbred, Grujić – Wolf, Duda, Lukebakio – Ibisević
Head Coach: Ante Covic
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and among others, contributes to Forbes.com and Pro Soccer USA. 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 is available HERE. Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently splits his time between Victoria, BC, and Munich, Germany. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.