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‘Jinxed’ Hertha out to ruin Kovac’s homecoming with Bayern


Berlin (AFP) – Pal Dardai says his Hertha Berlin side must overcome the penalty curse on their ‘jinxed’ defence when they host league leaders Bayern Munich in Friday night’s key Bundesliga clash.

Defending champions Bayern arrive at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium under head coach Niko Kovac with a two-point lead in the table having won four of their five Bundesliga games.

Only a late equaliser conceded at home to Augsburg on Tuesday ended their 100 percent record in a 1-1 draw.

Berlin dropped from second to fifth after losing 3-1 at Werder Bremen on Tuesday, but Dardai is more concerned about the penalties they are conceding as they hunt a first win against Bayern since 2009.

Hertha have given away a penalty in all five of their league games so far to set an unwelcome Bundesliga record.

“It’s like we’re jinxed,” admitted Dardai, 42. “You can’t even put it down to experience, it’s just a bit stupid, I’m lost for words.”

Despite his worries, the Hertha boss is relishing the chance to become the first team to beat Bayern under Kovac.

“It’s motivation enough for the players, when the stadium is full, the atmosphere is good and it’s against Bayern Munich,” said Dardai.

For Berlin-born Kovac, it will be his first time as Bayern coach at Hertha, where the ex-Croatia international started his career, making nearly 150 Bundesliga appearances for ‘The Old Lady’.

“It’s going to be a real challenge. Hertha has developed really well and present themselves really well on the pitch. I’m pleased for them,” said Kovac.

Bayern could be five points clear after Friday’s game and Dardai poked fun at his team’s chances.

“I went to the library specially to find the book “How to beat FC Bayern”, but I didn’t find it,” quipped the Hertha boss, whose team has drawn their last three games against Bayern.

“When they have a top day, you have no chance.”

Kovac rested top striker Robert Lewandowski for Tuesday’s draw with Augsburg and the intention is clear, “we want to take everything we can in Berlin” warned the Bayern boss.

One to watch in the Hertha team is Dutch winger Javairo Dilrosun, 20, who joined from Manchester City in the off season and set up two goals last weekend against Borussia Moenchengladbach and scored in the Bremen defeat.

Former Bayern goalkeeper Thomas Kraft replaces Berlin’s first choice Rune Jarstein, who played against Bremen with a leg injury.

Bayern, meanwhile, will be without Germany midfielder Leon Goretzka, who injured his ankle against Augsburg after playing out of position at left-back.

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