Hertha Berlin v Bayern Munich – Olympiastadion Berlin at 14:30 GMT live at BT Sport
Investor Lars Windhorst spent €224 million on a 49% stake in Hertha Berlin over the past six months, with the ambition to turn the club into one of the “big city clubs” in Europe. After increasing his stake in November, the businessman opted to axe head coach Ante Covic with the side struggling on the field.
The Croat was understandably fired following a series of awful performances, including a 1–0 defeat in the derby against Union. Hertha opted to upgrade Jurgen Klinsmann’s position from an advisory board member to head coach, with a brief to stabilise the situation and change Hertha’s rather insipid style.
Results have picked up (W2-D2-L1), but the first stages of the Klinsmann revolution have been marked by a cautious, safety-first approach. Staying up is absolutely vital for the Old Dame’s grand plans not to turn into grand delusions.
Hertha’s new system
Berlin’s system under Klinsmann is a 4-4-2/4-5-1, with deep midfield pressing. He insists on all players defending jointly to steer attacks to wide areas. In recent games, opponents dominated the ball while Hertha focused on transition attacks via their quick wide forwards Dodi Lukebakio, Javairo Dilrosun and Marius Wolf.
From open play, the aim is to be very vertical and hit target men Davie Selke or Vedad Ibisevic. There’s enough quality for individual players to make the difference in isolated moments and the capital club’s new-look system could give Hertha a chance to be competitive when all-conquering Bayern Munich arrive.
Bayern might not dominate in Berlin
Bayern have looked happier in possession since Niko Kovac was sacked. There’s more movement and inter-change under interim boss Hansi Flick, as well as a willingness to win the ball back immediately in the opposition half. In isolated spells, their pressing has looked as sharp as it did under Pep Guardiola.
The general improvement under Flick notwithstanding, Bayern have dropped a fair amount of points, mostly due to defensive problems. Injuries to centre-backs Lucas Hernandez and Niklas Sule have put strain on the back line, and a lack of alternatives to Joshua Kimmich in defensive midfield remains a worry.
Such backline wobbles have made Bayern a little less appealing from a handicap perspective. The Bavarians arrive as fair and firm favourites to succeed at the Olympiastadion on Sunday but there’s little appetite to support FC Hollywood taking top honours by two goals or more considering the aforementioned woes.
Considering Hertha boast a better Expected Goals (xG) against from open play figure thus far this season, I’m inclined to think Klinsmann’s more stable and solid system can keep Bayern within reach here. With that in mind, I’m happy to back the hosts with a +1.50 Asian Handicap start at odds-against quotes of 2.07.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Hertha Berlin +1.50 at 2.070
Preview by: @MarkOHaire