Union and Hertha set for their first Berlin derby in the Bundesliga
It is the first top-tier meeting between the two Berlin clubs as the city gets set to mark 30 years since the Berlin Wall came down.
City rivals Union and Hertha face off for the first time in the Bundesliga on Saturday, almost 30 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Union Berlin, based on the east side of where the wall once stood, were promoted last season and host the first top-tier derby between the two major clubs in Germany’s capital.
Rivals Hertha Berlin, from the west side of the city, requested that the fixture be held on November 9, the date the wall that divided the east and west came down, but Union were reluctant to stage the match on a date with such cultural significance.
Union captain Christopher Trimmel is mindful of the amplified atmosphere a derby fixture can create, and maintains that retaining composure will be essential.
“It is something really special,” he said to the club’s website.
“The players will be aware of it, you can’t compare it to any other game.
“For me, these are always the most intensive matches. They have their own atmosphere. It doesn’t feel like 11 versus 11, the whole stadium stands behind you.
“I can’t explain it, but I’m really looking forward to it.
“The atmosphere is really special, if you have a hard tackle, the stadium roars. You might go into challenges a bit more aggressively as a result. You have to be composed. You have to take this atmosphere with you, but you need to be calm, not be provoked.”
Union boss Urs Fischer agreed that the derby fixture would be unlike any other, saying at a pre-match press conference: “I expect a great game in the end. A city derby is a bit special. (It is) important to have a mix of aggressiveness and coolness. I’m sure the teams will give it all to win.”
Fischer also confirmed that both Michael Parensen and Suleiman Abdullahi are unlikely to play, while Akaki Gogia and Grischa Promel remain unavailable with long-term injuries.
Hertha suffered a 3-2 defeat to Hoffenheim on Saturday, ending their four-game unbeaten league run.
Forward Vedad Ibisevic said the squad need to put that loss behind them as they represent their side of the city at the Stadion An der Alten Forsterei.
“It will be a heated game in a small, narrow stadium,” he told his club’s website.
“We can all imagine what we can expect from the game and for me personally that only adds to my motivation.
“Of course, we know very well how important the game is in Berlin and what role it plays for our fans. We’ve known that from the day Union Berlin came up.
“What has gone on so far in this season doesn’t matter now, the only thing that matters will be those 90 minutes on Saturday.
“We will do everything we can to be victorious, because even with all the hype surrounding the game, that’s our job – win the game and defend our status within this city.”
Left-back Maximilian Mittelstadt, who is hoping he can recover from an elbow injury in time to feature, said to the club’s site: “We want to show that we’re the top dogs in the city.
“It’s the first time we’ve met Union in the Bundesliga, which is something really special in itself. We will give everything to make sure we win.”