MARK O'HAIRE'S (@MarkOHaire) bagged four successive winning European NAPs. His latest arrives from the Bundesliga.
Hertha Berlin v Borussia Dortmund | Saturday 14:30
It’s taken time but Borussia Dortmund finally appear to have clicked into gear.
A hugely unfortunate 1-0 reverse at Benfica in the first leg of their Champions League Last 16 came before four successive triumphs; the Portuguese side were beaten 4-0 in the reverse in midweek whilst Freiburg, Wolfsburg and Leverkusen have all been consummately consumed by the Black & Yellows.
Thomas Tuchel’s troops have racked up 16 goals and shipped only two across those four fixtures to book a place in the Champions League quarter-finals whilst also moving up to third in the Bundesliga, only six points behind RB Leipzig.
There is a caveat, mind. Dortmund’s Wednesday night trouncing of Benfica wasn’t entirely as convincing as the scoreline suggests; having scored early, BVB laboured for large swathes of the encounter before grabbing the important second goal. From there, their opponents downed tools.
No rolls Reus
A potential reason for their sluggish performance was the absence of Marco Reus, injured in last weekend’s trouncing of Leverkusen. Football Form Labs data shows that BVB see their Bundesliga win percentage decrease from 68% to 57% without him since the start of last season, scoring 22% fewer goals.
Reus is again missing on Saturday and Tuchel’s expected to rotate his troops during a hectic schedule of action. And Dortmund’s less than impressive record on the road in league action this season should give hosts Hertha Berlin a cracking chance of picking up at least a point in the capital.
Sloppy away record
The Black & Yellows have bagged only two triumphs in seven away Bundesliga battles (W2-D3-L3) since early November, recorded a sole shutout in 12 games as guests and conceded at least twice on six occasions during that same 12-match sample (W4-D4-L4).
Dortmund’s return of W1-D3-L3 at clubs in 14th and above is far from fearsome and should give the league’s strongest home side plenty of encouragement with a full week’s rest to prepare.
The Bundesliga’s best home record
Hertha have W9-D1-L1 at their Olympiastadion home this season and only a 96th-minute Robert Lewandowski leveller denied the Berlin boys victory when hosting Bayern Munich here in mid-February.
Pal Dardai's charges remain in European qualification contention thanks to their fortress home record that’s seen the hosts leak just five times in 16-and-a-half hours of league football. But this wonderful return is nothing new for the East Germans.
Hertha have W20-D9-L6 at the Olympiastadion under Dardai, keeping 18 (51%) clean sheets. And the hosts have held Dortmund here in each of their past two visits.
The betting angle
So it’s a little distressful to see Berlin at such inflated prices this weekend. But rather than moan, I’m going balls deep into backing Hertha with a +1 start on the Asian Handicap – a selection that would see our stake returned if the hosts lose by a one-goal margin and provide profit with a home win or draw.
The capital club have suffered only three defeats in 35 here by more than a one-goal margin whilst Dortmund have won by the same margin in only three of 13 away days under Tuchel’s stewardship.
Hertha Berlin v Borussia Dortmund – Hertha Berlin +1 Asian Handicap (4/5 Stan James)