High-flying Hertha Berlin face difficult challenge in Munich | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 27.11.2015
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High-flying Hertha Berlin face difficult challenge in Munich

In light of astronomical success, Hertha Berlin face their toughest test of the season. Leverkusen and Schalke meanwhile try to elbow each other out as they fight for a top spot in the Bundesliga.

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Dardai: "We want to win, not look pretty!"

What a meteoric rise up the table for Hertha Berlin, sitting fourth going into matchday 14 after swatting away relegation a season ago. Their recent success has stemmed from strong road performances, but traveling to Allianz Arena will be a different experience.

Bayern Munich have looked invincible at home this season, winning all but one of their matches in Munich by at least three goals. They are coming off an impressive midweek performance against Olympiacos where even a second half red card did not prevent them from dominating the play.

Many teams in the Bundesliga have tried to board up their penalty area and try to catch Bayern on the break. That is an approach Hertha coach Pal Dardai may not want to do, but he knows his team needs to be more defensive.

"We would look into putting eleven players into a wall, but that is unreasonable. Even so, we will definitely set up defensively, and we will of course need to counter," said Dardai in his press conference on Friday. "I think it is the only way because Bayern a lot of speed and ability."

Dardai will be without Mitchell Weiser, the 21-year-old defender, who signed on a free transfer from Bayern in the summer, out of the squad with an ankle injury. Weiser provided the assist against for Bastian Schweinsteiger's goal against Hertha that helped secure the Bundesliga title for Bayern last season.

Bundesliga 26. Spieltag FC Schalke 04 gegen Bayer 04 Leverkusen

Tied up in a tight table, Leverkusen and Schalke square off in a matchup too close to call.

Leverkusen and Schalke wrestle to stay in contention

Only four points separate third and sixth place in the Bundesliga, and Bayer Leverkusen and Schalke are two teams that do not want to miss out on Champions League football. This tie is early in the season to provide the victor with much of an edge, but the loser could be reeling just before the halfway point.

Though Leverkusen won both of the ties last season, Schalke have the midweek momentum to draw from. Leverkusen dropped cruical points to Belarusian side BATE Borisov because of a humiliating goalkeeping blunder from Bernd Leno, and the result may end their Champions League aspirations earlier than desired. Schalke meanwhile punched their ticket to the knockout stages of the Europa League without breaking a sweat intheir match against Cypriot side APOEL.

Schalke have lost to three top-five sides in their last four Bundesliga matches though, and are still without suspended midfield orchestrator Johannes Geis. Leverkusen meanwhile have an inform Javier Hernandez who has scored five goals in his last four Bundesliga matches.

Both on 20 points, three more points will go a long way towards staying in contention for one of the coveted Champions League spots.

Bundesliga matchday 14 fixtures: Darmstadt vs. Cologne (Friday), Bayern Munich vs. Hertha Berlin, Werder Bremen vs. Hamburg, Hannover vs. Ingolstadt, Hoffenheim vs. Borussia Mönchengladbach (early Saturday), Mainz vs. Eintracht Frankfurt (late Saturday), Borussia Dortmund vs. Stuttgart (early Sunday), Bayer Leverkusen vs. Schalke, Augsburg vs. Wolfsburg (late Sunday).

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