Borussia Dortmund may not have everything their own way when they host an in-form Hertha Berlin side in the Bundesliga at the Signal-Iduna Park on Saturday (12:30 ET).
Dortmund recovered well from defeat to Bayern Munich to record a 6-1 thrashing of bottom side Paderborn last weekend. England international Jadon Sancho grabbed his first career hat-trick in addition to strikes from Thorgan Hazard, Achraf Hakimi and Marcel Schmelzer.
It was another demonstration of the attacking might of Lucien Favre’s side, who have scored an average of 3.25 goals per match in their 12 fixtures this calendar year – a rate bettered only by leaders Bayern. It was achieved despite the absence of January signing Erling Haaland, sidelined through injury after scoring 10 times in 11 matches since his arrival.
It was also a vital victory in a top-four battle that looks likely to go down to the wire. With Bayern now likely out of reach ahead, Dortmund are embroiled in a four-team scrap for the remaining three Champions League qualifying places. All of the participants were victorious last weekend, meaning that just four points still separate Dortmund in second from Bayer Leverkusen in fifth.
Since the turn of the year, only Bayern have taken more points than Dortmund’s haul of 30 that has seen them fly past RB Leipzig and Borussia Monchengladbach into second place. Their late-November switch to a 3-4-2-1 system has yielded 13 wins in their last 17 matches after just five across their first 12 fixtures of the campaign. With good defensive cover, flying wing-backs and potent forwards, Favre seems to have found a winning formula.
It has certainly left Dortmund well-positioned to finish in the top four. The U.S. betting firms have them very heavily odds-on to do so. That doesn’t necessarily mean that three points on Saturday is a given.
Hertha Berlin have endured a tumultuous season. Success hasn’t followed significant investment in the squad. Bruno Labbadia is their fourth head coach of a campaign that has also seen Ante Covic, former United States men’s national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann and Alexander Nouri sit on the Olympiastadion bench. After all that shuffling around, they finally seem to have stumbled upon something with Labbadia.
The former Wolfsburg coach has only been in charge for four matches and so there is far from a convincing sample size to back up his work, but a record of three wins and one draw has certainly made for an encouraging start. Hertha were probably somewhat flattered by their 3-0 win away to Hoffenheim in their first match after the restart, but they have otherwise looked good, even going toe-to-toe with RB Leipzig in a 2-2 draw last Wednesday.
At the weekend, Javairo Dilrosun and €27 million January signing Krzysztof Piatek got the goals in a 2-0 home win over Augsburg that extended the club’s unbeaten run to six matches. In their eight matches since Klinsmann’s departure in February, they have also had top-six underlying numbers. Sixth-placed Wolfsburg are only four points up the road from their current position of ninth.
A difficult closing schedule in which they must play three of the current top five will make a late push for a European place a difficult task. The first of those tests comes this weekend against a Dortmund side who were 2-1 victors when the teams met in Berlin in November. Early goals from Sancho and Hazard gave them a cushion they were able to maintain despite Hertha getting one back before half-time and creating at least a couple more decent chances.
Both teams were in different stages of their development in that encounter and both look better now than they did then. That was the first match in which Dortmund switched to the 3-4-2-1 formation that has since served them so well. Recent evidence suggests Hertha will be tough opponents, but Dortmund are in very good form and can still be fancied to take all three points on Saturday. So for the pick, this is our Borussia Dortmund vs Hertha Berlin prediction:
- Bet on Dortmund to be winning at both half-time and full-time @ evens (+100) with Bovada Sportsbook.