Julian Nagelsmann on...
... the opponents.
“We played very well in the away fixture against Hertha last season and came away with all three points. We didn’t fare as well at home against them earlier this season, however. They set themselves up very deep, but there was still space which we struggled to make use of. After the game, we came up with a few ideas as to how we could fare better against a play style like that in the future. I’m not assuming that Hertha will play as deep this time around though. They will attack us and try to create chances of their own. We have to expect that, because they will no doubt have seen our results lately. Pal Dardai and his assistant coach Rainer Widmayer will do their due diligence to find out how to attack us most effectively.”
... the squad, part I.
“Nadiem Amiri and Kerem Demirbay and quite at 100 percent just yet, but they’re slowly getting there. They’ll be available for us. Lukas Rupp will miss training today, however - he picked up a slight knock to his knee yesterday. Mark Uth is also doubtful, as he has a calf problem. Gregor Kobel has recovered from his injury, but he isn’t yet ready to play.”
... the squad, part II.
“Robert Zulj has trained very well over the last few weeks and has caught my eye. He wasn’t able to play much of a role before the winter break due to a bad injury, but that could well soon change. He is on track. He just needed a bit more time to get settled here due to his injury setback. Above all, he has to learn the defensive part of the game and get used to the pace of this level of football. He’s a fine attacking footballer with gifted technical ability - both for the final pass and in front of goal. He’s a powerful player who is athletic. I hope that we’ll be able to see him in the Bundesliga soon and hopefully see him put what he’s doing in training into practice on the pitch.”
... the sporting situation.
“This is only our fourth game after the winter break, so to say that this is a must-win game is an exaggeration. But I did say to the team that we do have some very important weeks ahead of us. The tough tasks of playing Leverkusen and Bayern are now behind us, and now we need to start picking up points. We have the ability to win in Berlin, but we have to be more clinical in front of goal if we want to do so. My goal for the Rückrunde was for the boys to make better use of advantageous situations and capitalise on the chances.”
The head to head
TSG and Hertha have met 15 times to this point in the Bundesliga. The head to head is in favour of Hoffenheim, who have won seven times. Hertha have won five of the games, while three ended in draws. One such draw was the previous encounter between the two sides this season. Hoffenheim have dominated in recent memory, and haven’t lost to the men from Berlin since November 2015.
The opponent’s form
Like Hoffenheim, Hertha have not got off to the best start after the winter break. They have drawn twice and suffered one loss. Most recently, Pal Dardai’s side scraped out a 0-0 draw against Werder Bremen - a result they were happy with. “We got a bit lucky at the end. We’ll happily take this point back home with us,” said the head coach. “We have to learn from these inconsistent performances though.”
The key battle
TSG have to restrict Hertha’s chances in front of goal. Even though they have the taken the least shots in the entire league with 183, they lead the league with 55 percent shot accuracy and a 19 percent chance conversion rate. Almost one in five Hertha shots finds its way into the net.