Last season, Hertha Berlin were sitting in a Champions League place with three matches to go in the Bundesliga.
However, they then picked up just a single point out of nine and ended up seventh, ‘only’ qualifying for a place in the Europa League play-offs and found themselves being knocked out.
With Champions League participation never really being on the cards this time around, the club from the capital is looking towards the Europa League to play international football, but their recent form has led to that deja vu feeling their fans must loath.
Five defeats in their last seven matches has seen them give up a six-point lead over a non-Europa League place finish.
And if all of that was not enough, the team visiting the Olympic Stadium on Saturday is none other than RB Leipzig, who are looking for points to cement the second place they currently occupy.
Both teams had disappointing results this past weekend, with Berlin losing 2-0 at Werder Bremen, while RB Leipzig were held to a goalless draw by nearly-relegated Ingolstadt.
Arguably the main reason why Hertha is struggling to get points is that their two main strikers – Solomon Kalou and Vedad Ibisevic are struggling to find the back of the net.
The Ivorian international Kalou last scored against Borussia Dortmund in a 2-1 win back at the beginning of March, while Ibisevic, who captains the team, scored the 1-0 winner against Wolfsburg two weeks ago and one goal in a 4-2 defeat in Cologne in March.
Against Bremen, Hertha coach Pal Dardai had to make do without a whole host of injured players, including US international John Anthony Brooks, Marvin Plattenhard, as well as Julian Schieber.
It is not only the possibility that some of the injured will be able to return against Leipzig that has fans hopeful, Hertha’s home record is an impressive one, having picked up 37 of their total 46 points in Berlin.
Not surprising then, that defender Sebastian Langkamp said after the defeat in Bremen: “I am pleased that we have a home game against Leipzig.”
The rookies though, will certainly be no push-overs as they are heading towards the second-best finish of any promoted team. Only Kaiserslautern, who won the championship in their first season back in the top flight in 1998 did better.
But with Bayern having won their 27th title and fifth in a row last weekend with a convincing 6-0 win at Wolfsburg, that is something no longer on the cards for the club from East Germany.
Before their game against Ingolstadt, Coach Ralph Hasenhuettl said that they accepted they would not be champions. “We want to be the best of the rest,” he said.
Avoiding defeat in Berlin will go a long way towards achieving that.
The game will be broadcast live on the StarTimes World Football channel at 18:30 CAT on Saturday and the Sports Director of StarTimes Media Division, Cole He Xin, said that with so much at stake for both clubs an exciting game seems likely.
“Both clubs are vying for places in Europe next season and both are wanting to avoid the play-offs. But to go through directly, they need points. Hertha of course will have learned from last season, while Leipzig are still living their dream.
“I can see an exciting game and hopefully we can see an African goal, after all, with Kalou and Guinea international Naby Keita there are two top class African internationals in action.”
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