Hertha Berlin vs Paderborn
Hertha to start with a win
Following their relegation from the Bundesliga last season, Hertha have undergone something of a facelift on the personnel front as new coach Jos Luhukay has been honing his squad for the 2. Bundesliga. He has signed wisely, bringing in experienced first division strikers such as Sami Allagui, Sandro Wagner, as well as Israeli international Ben Sahar.
Levan Kobiashvili, Christian Lell and Thomas Kraft are all suspended for the foreseeable future after being found guilty of gross unsporting behaviour in their relegation play-off match against Dusseldorf at the end of last season.
Paderborn have suffered a summer of turmoil after the departures of coach Roger Schmidt as well as 13 members of their senior playing staff. The absence of top scorer Nick Proschwitz will be keenly felt, although Tuesday's signing of Mainz forward Deniz Yilmaz, formerly a Bayern youth player, has provided a fresh wave of hope.
New coach Stephan Schmidt has therefore not had an easy task settling in but has bolstered the squad’s numbers with dependable, experienced 2. Bundesliga players.
Suspended: Kobiashvili (until 2013), Lell (five matches), Kraft (four matches)
Hertha are determined to bounce back to the top-flight at the first attempt and appear to have the necessary tools to do so. Jos Luhukay has a proven track record of being able to get the most out of his players, while the strike force, with Sami Allagui, Sandro Wagner and Ben Sahar joining Adrian Ramos, is one of the strongest in the division. They played seven preseason games, winning five and losing two.
Last season the capital club were extremely vulnerable in defence, but Luhukay is a stickler for detail and will have them well-drilled on that front. This game promises to be a cracker and I’m backing home advantage to help Hertha to victory.
Paderborn came within a whisker of earning a promotion play-off place last season, but already the chances of equalling, let alone bettering that feat appear remote. Coach Stephan Schmidt is a newcomer at this level, having only worked with youth teams previously. He will need time both to adapt to his new surroundings and to build a new team. They played nine preseason games, winning eight and drawing one.
Key to his planning will be in attack, as after Proschwitz (17 goals), nobody scored more than five times in the league last term. The arrivals of Deniz Yilmaz from Mainz and Kevin Hofmann from Schalke bolster Schmidt's options, but this will be a baptism of fire and I do not think Paderborn are up to the task yet.
HEAD TO HEAD
The two fixtures during the 2010/11 2. Bundesliga campaign are the only times these two have met. The respective home side won on each occasion.
Andy is a football reporter and commentator for several leading broadcasters and websites worldwide, including FIFA, UEFA, Bundesliga and Sportfive.
Having spent long period of time in Germany, he has developed an in-depth knowledge of both the Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga, working as an editor for the DFL's official English language website, as well as being an on-site reporter for UEFA at Champions League and Europa League matches across Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
Andy spent the summer in Johannesburg commentating on the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa and is now working as a world feed commentator for various broadcasters internationally.