Hertha out for Union revenge in Berlin derby

Soccer ball (Getty Images)
Soccer ball (Getty Images)

Hertha Berlin will look to build on their winning return to Bundesliga action last weekend following the coronavirus suspension and avenge November's derby defeat by city rivals Union when the pair meet on Friday in the German capital. 

Union, the side from the east of Berlin, pulled off a famous 1-0 win over their west Berlin rivals when the teams met for the first time in the top division this season.

The return match at Hertha's Olympic Stadium home would in normal times have been a 74 000 sellout.

"We all remember the match at the Alten Foersterei. It was a black, black, day. Now we've got the chance to put it behind us just a bit," said Hertha's general manager Michael Preetz.

"The conditions are very different, therefore it's a different sort of derby," added Hertha coach Bruno Labbadia, who started with a win in his first match last Saturday.

The Bundesliga became the first major European league to resume last weekend following the two-month shutdown, with draconian hygiene measures enforced at all matches across the country. 

Players are undergoing regular virus tests while games are being played behind closed doors as part of strict guidelines approved by the government.

Germany's top two tiers will pay tribute to the victims of the virus outbreak over the course of the next two rounds of matches. More than 8,000 people have died in the country, which has reported over 175 000 cases of Covid-19.

"The spread of the coronavirus has already taken many lives throughout the world. German professional football would like to express its condolences on the next two matchdays," said German league chief executive Christian Seifert.

Players will also wear black armbands and observe a moment of reflection before the start of each match.

Union coach Urs Fischer missed the 2-0 loss at home to Bayern Munich last weekend after breaking the team quarantine following a family bereavement.

Borussia Dortmund will try to keep pace with leaders Bayern Munich away to Wolfsburg ahead of Tuesday's crucial top-two showdown at Signal Iduna Park, although they could be without captain Marco Reus for the remainder of the season due to a thigh injury.

Bayern, four points clear at the top, host Eintracht Frankfurt, who won 5-1 in the reverse fixture - inflicting the heaviest league defeat on Bayern since 2009 and putting an end to Niko Kovac's turbulent spell in charge.

Champions League quarter-finalists RB Leipzig go to Mainz on Sunday, having have fallen behind in the title chase after three successive draws. Julian Nagelsmann's side set a club record with an 8-0 win when the teams met in November. 

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