Union to host Berlin derby against Hertha

By Nathalia Araujo, dpa

In their second-ever Bundesliga season, Union Berlin have a 14-point advantage over city rivals Hertha Berlin. The football underdogs of the German capital are approaching the match with their hopes high.

Underdogs Union Berlin are only in the second Bundesliga season in the club’s history but they are doing well so far in Germany’s top-flight league.

If in the previous season they secured a comfortable 11th place, 10 points off the relegation zone, Union, now currently seventh-placed, are now battling for a place in the Europa League, and are just two points away from the qualification spot.

And it’s with high hopes of playing in a continental competition that they are hosting city rivals Hertha Berlin on Easter Sunday at the An der Alten Foersterei stadium.

Meanwhile, the situation looks quite different for Bundesliga experts Hertha. The blue side of Berlin have eight games left this season, including the derby, to avoid relegation.

Their task is not an easy one: Hertha are currently out of the relegation spots in 14th, but only one point off Cologne, the first team in the drop zone.

“In our situation you need to win if you want to have a more relaxed atmosphere and add another win, that would be a nice situation,” Hertha coach Pal Dardai told the Bundesliga website.

“But at the moment, Union are a good team, a compact team, though they make mistakes and we know that, we also do and they know it,” he added.

With tensions high at the club, Dardai is heading into his first clash against Union as a coach. But from his point of view, the “derby story is generated more by the media.”

“I think it comes from the media. It’s important for us because we want to do it for the fans and have a good feeling, but in terms of tradition, it’s not like 1860 and Bayern,” Dardai said, referring to the long-established rivalry in the southern German city between 1860 Munich and Bundesliga record champions Bayern Munich.

“Based purely on tradition, I think we have more of a derby feel against Schalke, not a city derby but a different history,” he said.

Hertha left the pitch with a victory after their first meeting of the season with Union last December at their Olympic stadium. The visitors opened the scoring but a red card to Robert Andrich made things slightly easier for Hertha.

“We want to correct a few things that didn’t go well for us in the first match. That’s our goal for the weekend,” Union’s defender Robin Knoche said.

“We know what the opponent can do and what we can do. We all know that we don’t need to hide. The way the season has gone so far, we can have the confidence to say we want to win at home,” Knoche added.

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