Hertha Berlin and FC Koln return from the Bundesliga winter break on Sunday looking to pick up from where they left off back in December.
Both sides head into the encounter at the Olympiastadion in comfortable midtable spots in the table, following wins at the end of 2021.
The winter break in Germany came at a poor time for Sunday’s hosts Hertha, with Tayfun Korkut’s side just beginning to build up some form and momentum prior to the three-week rest.
The Turkish boss has overseen a successful start to his time in charge of the Old Lady, after he replaced his predecessor Pal Dardai at the end of November.
Dardai’s four-game winless spell was the latest inconsistent run of form during a mixed start to the campaign that had left Hertha hovering around the relegation places once more.
Following Torkut’s seven points in his first four games though, the capital side have climbed to a comfortable 11th in the table, although there are still only four points separating his team from Stuttgart in the relegation playoff spot in 16th.
Therefore, he will be keen for his players to make a bright start to 2022 on Sunday in order to lift them further away from trouble, and instead have them looking up rather than over their shoulders for the first time in several years.
Although the break may have halted the momentum created by Torkut’s appointment, Hertha will be looking to build on the impressive 3-2 triumph over Borussia Dortmund last time out on December 18.
A second-half brace from Marco Richter followed an equaliser from Ishak Belfodil during an excellent 19-minute spell that turned the game on its head after Hertha had fallen behind inside the first half, and the Old Lady hung on at the end to achieve an excellent result against their second-placed opponents.
Meanwhile, visitors Koln enjoyed a successful finish to 2021 themselves, with Steffen Baumgart’s side losing just one of their final seven games in the calendar year.
The first half of last year saw the Billy Goats hang onto their Bundesliga place courtesy of a relegation playoff win last campaign, but following the appointment of the former SC Paderborn boss in the summer, they have gone from strength to strength ever since.
In fact, as a result of their fantastic start to the campaign, Koln find themselves far closer to the Champions League places than they do to the relegation zone at this stage, with just three points between themselves and Bayer Leverkusen in fourth, and eight separating them from Stuttgart in 16th.
Back-to-back wins over Wolfsburg and Stuttgart immediately prior to the winter break certainly assisted their current situation, with victory over the former actually being their first on the road this season.
The 3-2 triumph could turn out to be crucial in Koln’s chances on Sunday, as well as their potential success for the remainder of the campaign, as the over-reliance on their excellent home form could have proved costly in the coming months.
However, the victory, which included a brace from top goalscorer Anthony Modeste, has provided the much-needed confidence boost that Koln can remain just as competitive away from home as they can at the RheinEnergieStadion.
Hertha Berlin Bundesliga form:
FC Koln Bundesliga form:
We say: Hertha Berlin 1-1 FC Koln
These sides are very evenly matched on paper, as well as in terms of league position, so as a result we are predicting a tight draw on Sunday.
Were Koln at home then we would expect them to come out victorious, but their stuttering away form means that Hertha should pick up a result at the Olympiastadion.