Prior to the international break, Bayern had an incredibly tough schedule. After winning all matches barring the opening day loss, FC Bayern struggled against Hoffenheim. The team looked unsurprisingly tired and got away with a point. That point proved to be crucial as both Bremen and Gladbach slipped up and lost allowed Bayern to extend their lead to three full points.
Hoffenheim played really well but failed to get past Manuel Neuer who for once actually earned the clean-sheet. He made some saves which showed exactly why Bayern splashed the cash for him in the transfer window. In the next seven days, Bayern has an awfully difficult schedule where they will feature in three competitions.
These seven matches include two Champions League games against Italian opposition. Bayern has fallen to Italian opposition in the last two CL campaigns. This time, Napoli is the team they will play. Two Bavarian derbies are also on the menu against Augsburg and Nuremberg. A Pokal match against Ingolstadt is perhaps the easiest matchup. Hanover 96, a team that gave Bayern no end of headaches last season is the other opponent in this span.
Hertha has a "Bayern" feel to them. The Berlin club is coached by a player who featured for a very illustrious for the Bayern side—Markus Babbel. Babbel coincidentally made his Bayern debut under Jupp Heynckes. Their keeper happens to be one who came through the Bayern youth ranks, Thomas Kraft. In defence is another old Bayern star Christian Lell.
Lell was part of the defence which broke the Bundesliga record for smallest number of goals conceded. He was also on the Bayern side which Barca toyed with in 2008. He spent fifteen years with Bayern, two of which were spent on loan at Koln.
Lell has played so well that Joachim Loew has taken notice. In midfield is a player who spent almost fifteen years with Bayern as part of the youth system, Bayern II and the senior side. He was one of those players whose passing was quite accurate. He was never one to take control of a match—however, he quietly fulfilled his responsibilities in defensive midfield and he had an eye for long-range shots too.
Many a Bayern fan felt sad to see him leave. Despite not exactly being a regular during the season, he was a faithful servant to the club and rarely ever complained. He is a Bayern player by heart and is afraid of taking the wrong turn to the Bayern dressing room when he returns to the Allianz Arena.
Hertha won the 2 Bundesliga by nine points last season. They have been very solid in the Bundesliga too. They have three wins to their name as well as three draws and sit in tenth, seven points behind leaders Bayern. They can defend very well and have conceded nine times in eight games. They won against Borussia Dortmund which is no mean feat.
They were unlucky to lose to Bremen recently. Hertha lost two players to red cards in that match and lost thanks to an injury time goal scored by Claudio Pizarro. That goal had looked to be a tad offside for me. That is their only loss in the season to date.
Hertha's two strikers Adrian Ramos and Pierre Michel Lassogga were seemingly unfit for this match but now seem prepared to play. Lassogga, the youngster is one to watch out for. Ramos is a very dangerous forward as is Raffael. Some of Hertha's players are very experienced such as Maik Franz, Levan Kobiashvili and Peter Niemeyer. That being said, Lell and Ottl are also massively experienced and they have played in every major club competition that exists in Europe.
As far as the team news for Bayern is concerned, Jupp Heynckes has a full squad to choose from including Ivica Olic. Arjen Robben turns out to be the exception as usual. An exact date for his return has not been set. However, he might not be seen around until November.
This match is a tough one to predict. I think Bayern will just about get the job done though.
Prediction: FC Bayern 1-0 Hertha BSC
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