Hertha Berlin’s top-three credentials will be severely tested by Borussia Dortmund on Saturday, but John Anthony Brooks is confident the hosts can continue to perform above expectations.
The capital club finished 15th in the Bundesliga last season, but Pal Dardai has transformed their fortunes this term, with Hertha sitting third – 10 points behind second-placed Dortmund – and in the hunt for Champions League qualification following a five-match unbeaten run in the top flight.
United States international defender Brooks extended his Olympiastadion stay last week, agreeing fresh terms that tie him to the club until 2019, and he is optimistic about Hertha’s future.
“Together we’ve got a lot ahead of us,” he told the Bundesliga’s official website. “What we’ve managed to achieve this season is proof that we’ve got a lot of potential.
“All of us can continue developing to ensure that we’re even better in the future. I want to work towards that, throw everything in the mix and play my part.
“I just want to keep moving forward with these guys – I’m looking forward to doing that.”
Remarkably, these two sides were in the bottom two this time last season, but have both since changed coaches, and Brooks was effusive in his praise for Dardai, who represented the club as a player for 14 years.
“Pal Dardai is doing great work with us. He and his coaching team know what’s important for the collective and myself,” he added.
“For instance, he has always put his faith in me, relied on me – even if everything was going wrong. That’s why he’s so important for everyone.”
The Hungarian boss will need to be on top of his game to outwit opposite number Thomas Tuchel, whose side are hanging onto the coat tails of leaders Bayern Munich – the champions boasting an eight-point lead at the summit.
Since a three-match winless streak across September and October – including a 5-1 reverse to Bayern – Tuchel’s men have taken 27 points from 33 available.
The visitors will be looking to complete their first league double over Hertha since the 2004-05 campaign, having triumphed 3-1 in August’s reverse fixture, when Mats Hummels, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Adrian Ramos were on target.
Salomon Kalou netted Hertha’s consolation that day and has since taken his tally for the season to 13 in all competitions, highlighting the Ivorian as perhaps the biggest threat to Tuchel’s title hopefuls, who remain without Sven Bender (foot).
Per Ciljan Skjelbred is suspended for Hertha.
Key Opta stats:
– Dortmund are just two points short of equalling their total for the whole of last season (46); Hertha Berlin are just one short of the 35 they amassed in 2014-15.
– The Berlin side have already matched their tally of home wins from last term (6).
– Thomas Tuchel’s side have scored in each of their last 26 Bundesliga games, the longest current run in the division. Their club record is 31 games, set in 2012-13.
– Pal Dardai and Tuchel have identical points-per-Bundesliga-game averages (1.50).
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