Professionals | 21/02/2020

Matchday 23

Preview ahead of the trip to Hertha

1. FC Köln make the trip to the capital to take on Hertha BSC on Saturday afternoon, hoping to get back to winning ways after defeat to Bayern Munich. It’s a hugely important clash for both teams, who are looking to continue to increase the gap to the bottom three.

Form check

Hertha BSC: The capital club got back to winning ways last weekend, thanks to a 2:1 triumph away in Paderborn. That came with Alexander Nouri at the helm, as he ended a 24-game wait for a win as head coach. The former Bremen and Ingolstadt manager is currently interim boss after Jürgen Klinsmann left his role at Hertha. After an exciting January transfer window, Nouri will be hoping to gel the new faces together and earn a first home win since the middle of December.

1. FC Köln: Despite the defeats to Bayern and Dortmund in the last three games, victories against Freiburg and Wolfsburg mean that FC are well placed after the first four matches in the Rückrunde. With Hertha now on the horizon and crucial relegation battles coming up in March, Markus Gisdol will want to get back on track ahead of an important period. Five wins in the last seven suggest that is more than possible.

The managers have had their say

Alexander Nouri: “There's a good atmosphere in the changing room right now. We've worked well this week and there's plenty of competition for places, so training has been intense. We're ready for Saturday. We need players who are happy to take on a lot of responsibility. The lads were ready to do just that against Paderborn and they all gave 100%.”

Markus Gisdol: “Hertha won after a turbulent week and now that they’re at home, where they haven’t been as strong, they’ll want to follow that up. They will want to try and set the tone. Hertha often try to let the opponent play and then to sit deep with their back five and make it tough through the middle. Then, they hit you on the break.”

Squad update

Hertha BSC: Nouri has only has one new injury concern following the win over Paderborn. Thomas Kraft was bitten by a dog during the week and will miss out with the subsequent hand injury. Marius Wolf is available for selection again after serving his suspension against Paderborn, and could feature again on the right-hand side. However, Nouri could stick with the same set of players that secured all three points in Ostwestfalen.

1. FC Köln: For Markus Gisdol, he will be without two of his usual back four against Hertha. Noah Katterbach is ruled out with an ankle injury and Sebastiaan Bornauw is suspended after picking up a fifth yellow card against Bayern. Thomas Kessler is also still absent due to his calf injury.

Opposition dangerman

Dodi Lukebakio has been Hertha’s leading light up front this season, notching up five goals and four assists. The Belgian international arrived with big expectations and has helped Hertha through a difficult start to the campaign. While he didn’t feature in Alexander Nouri’s first game in charge, he’ll be hoping to get the nod for the game against FC. The Belgian offers plenty of pace with an eye for goal, which he readily showcased for Fortuna last season. That 10-goal mark is certainly in his sights once again.

Refereeing team

Referee: Daniel Schlager (Hügelsheim).
Assistant referees: Benedikt Kempkes, Markus Schüller.
Fourth official: Sascha Thielert.
Video Assistant Referee: Günter Perl.

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Total table
11. FSV Mainz 050
11. FC Union Berlin0
11. FC Köln0