Hertha challenge Bayern’s iron-grip


Berlin (AFP) – High-flying Hertha Berlin will attempt to loosen Bayern Munich’s iron-grip in the Bundesliga on Wednesday in the German league’s top-of-the-table clash.

Hertha’s 2-0 win at home to Schalke on Sunday means Berlin and Bayern, the only German clubs who still have 100 percent records with three wins from three, will square off at Munich’s Allianz Arena.

“We’re enormously happy that we now have nine points, but Bayern is a completely different opponent,” admitted Hertha’s left-back Marvin Plattenhardt. “We’ll need a really good day.”

The German league has a round of midweek matches with the highlight being Bayern’s hosting of Hertha while Borussia Dortmund, who have posted back-to-back 6-0 wins at Legia Warsaw and Darmstadt, are at Wolfsburg on Tuesday.

Bayern are at the start of a busy period with four games in ten days including their crunch Champions League group stage game at Atletico Madrid a week on Wednesday. 

Carlo Ancelotti’s Bayern will be without Brazil winger Douglas Costa, who has been ruled out for the foreseeable future with a hamstring injury he suffered in Saturday’s 3-1 comeback win against Ingolstadt.

Captain Philipp Lahm, David Alaba, Thomas Mueller and Mats Hummels all missed the Bavarian derby victory with illness.

Despite their personnel woes, Bayern look to be on course to claim a fifth straight German league title this season having also routed Werder Bremen 6-0 and won 2-0 at Schalke this season.

But Pal Dardai’s Hertha are one of the few teams who look capable of weakening Bayern’s hold on top spot.

On Sunday, goals by ex-Bayern midfielder Mitchell Weiser and Swiss midfielder Valentin Stocker at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium gave Hertha three wins from three.

On Tuesday, Dortmund take on Wolfsburg having scored 12 goals without reply in their last two games.

Their drubbing of Darmstadt on Saturday came with star forwards Mario Goetze and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on the bench.

“It would be nice if a 6-0 win becomes our standard result,” quipped Dortmund’s Germany midfielder Julian Weigl.

But Dortmund boss Thomas Tuchel has warned his side they can expect tougher matches at Wolfsburg, then Freiburg on Friday ahead of their plum Champions League group stage tie at home to Real Madrid.

With just one win from their three league games, Wolfsburg were held to goalless draws by Cologne and Hoffenheim in their last two matches.

Their new signing, Germany striker Mario Gomez, has yet to score this season.

“The goals will come,” insisted Gomez, who set up a golden chance to Julian Draxler against Hoffenheim on Saturday which hit the crossbar.

“The next game is a good chance for that and Borussia Dortmund haven’t won the game yet.”

At the other end of the table, Schalke 04 host Cologne on Wednesday desperate for points after three straight defeats.

The same night, Werder Bremen’s Under-23 coach Alexander Nouri will take charge of the senior team for the visit of Mainz.

Bremen sacked Viktor Skripnik on Sunday following their 4-1 loss at Borussia Moenchengladbach, their fourth straight defeat and the worst start to a season in the club’s history.

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