Maximilian Arnold in action.
FR . 30. 03. 2018
First Team

Berlin’s defensive bulwark

The key facts and figures ahead of Saturday’s trip to Hertha BSC.

Maximilian Arnold in action.

The Wolves’ match against Hertha BSC will kick off at the unusual time of 20:30 CET this Saturday owing to the Easter weekend schedule. Earlier in the campaign the two sides contested a turbulent 3-3 draw.

VfL have not had it easy against the capital club in recent years, failing to win any of the last four encounters. Indeed their last victory at the Olympiastadion came some four years back – a 2-1 success in February 2014. Hertha themselves have stuttered of late, though they arrested a four-game winless streak (two draws, two defeats) with a 2-1 win in Hamburg – only their second win of the Rückrunde (five draws, three defeats). Even so, with a ten-point cushion separating them from the bottom three, Hertha have few concerns about being dragged into the mire. In beating HSV, Hertha managed to avoid a fifth straight game without scoring with their first strike in 447 top-flight minutes. Another two goals against Wolfsburg would see them reach 1,000 home goals in the Bundesliga, though they haven’t managed to score in either of their last two home matches and a total of 212 minutes on their own patch.

Barren spell

Wolfsburg are currently level on 25 points with Mainz in 15th place, the spectre of a second consecutive relegation play-off looming large. Köln’s recent victory saw the Green-Whites’ advantage over the direct relegation places dwindle to just five points. The Wolves’ primary concerns are in attack, where they have failed to score more than once in any of their last nine away outings, netting only five times in the same timeframe. Hertha, meanwhile, have threatened their opponents with only 250 shots on goal this term – fewer than any other team in the Bundesliga. Conversely, they do have the most efficient frontline with 54 per cent of shots on target – the highest ratio in the league. The same goes for attempts from the penalty spot – while VfL have missed five of their last six penalties, Hertha have impressively netted 15 of their last 16 efforts from 12 yards.

Plattenhardt suspended

Wolfsburg are the only Bundesliga side to have scored three times from direct free-kicks this season. The hosts, meanwhile, will be without their free-kick specialist, German international Marvin Plattenhardt, who is suspended after racking up five bookings. There are two players who celebrated the 2009 Bundesliga title success with Wolfsburg: Alexander Esswein and Peter Pekarik. VfL centre-back John Anthony Brooks has Hertha history, having joined from Hertha in 2017, but he’ll miss the return to his former stomping ground owing to injury.

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