MARK O'HAIRE'S (@MarkOHaire) ever-popular European NAP continues this weekend. He's heading to the Bundesliga for Sunday afternoon's action in Berlin.
Hertha Berlin v Werder Bremen | Sunday 10th September 2017, 14:30 | BT Sport
Hertha Berlin have defied pre-season predictions to enjoy year-on-year progression in the Bundesliga under Pal Dardai. A fifth-placed finish last term was recorded despite losing 15 fixtures, although the capital club never went longer than three games without tasting victory.
Europa League qualification will bring extra responsibility upon a reasonably small squad but should the Berlin boys continue their outstanding Olympiastadion record under Dardai, there’s no reason why this team can’t continue to punch above their weight.
Hertha’s home record
Hertha managed 12 wins on home soil last season – 11 of which arrived via the 1-0, 2-0 or 2-1 results – and although their lack of goals was exposed on the road, Dardai’s resilient defensive structure tended to hold strong in the capital. Three of the five fixtures the hosts failed to win came against the top four.
Since Dardai took the reigns at the Berlin club, Hertha have returned W24-D9-L9 at the Olympiastadion – a 57% win-rate that implies betting odds as short as 3/4. However, we can be back Hertha to record a victory here at odds-against quotes of 26/25 (Marathon).
John Brooks is the only major departure from the club this summer and whilst they’re undoubtedly weaker without the American centre-half, I’d definitely still want to keep the club onside when welcoming Bundesliga opposition.
Bremen’s road woes
Werder Bremen have started the season with back-to-back defeats ‘to nil’. The River Islanders have faced tough tasks against Hoffenheim and Bayern and performed with aplomb in both tests; head coach Alexander Nouri admitted he was pleased with his side’s defensive displays.
Going forward too, Werder got into good positions on the counter but the final pass was lacking and the continued absence of playmaker Zlatko Junuzovic is hurting the visitors. Without him, Bremen have often failed to fire.
The guests are also still missing centre-back Niklas Moisander. Without him, the River Islanders have W0-D0-L6 since the start of last season, leaking 22 goals. Chuck in their W2-D4-L8 record away to teams outside last season’s bottom-four and concern grows.
Performance data never shines Hertha in a good light but their rigid and often attritional outfit and I reckon they can take advantage of Bremen’s away day blues, especially with two key cogs missing in the visitors’ dressing room.
Hertha Berlin v Werder Bremen – Hertha Berlin to win (26/25 Marathon)