FC Köln vs. Hertha BSC preview:
Visitors looking to end winless away run
By Ben Sully @SullyBen
After failing to win any of their previous 12 away games, relegation-threatened Hertha BSC will be looking to claim all three points when they face FC Köln on Friday.
|Photo: City-Press GmbH/Hertha BSC|
FC Köln will head into Friday’s contest in a buoyant mood after they claimed a 2-1 victory in the Rhine derby against Bayer Leverkusen last weekend. Leverkusen’s Amine Adli cancelled out Davie Selke’s opener, before the Köln striker scored his second goal of the game in the 36th minute to restore his side’s slender advantage. Die Geißböcke held firm in the second period to end Leverkusen’s 14-game unbeaten run in all competitions.
Following last weekend’s results, Köln have guaranteed their safety and extended their stay in the top flight to a fifth consecutive season.
Steffen Baumgart’s side have recorded three successive away victories, but they have tended to struggle on home turf in recent weeks. Köln are winless in five matches at the RheinEnergieStadion, scoring just one goal in that period. They can at least take confidence from the fact that they won their most recent home meeting with Hertha.
The hosts are unable to call upon Mark Uth and Florian Dietz due to injury issues, while Benno Schmitz will serve a one-match suspension for an accumulation of yellow cards.
After losing four consecutive games, Hertha ended their poor run of form with a crucial 2-1 away victory over relegation rivals Stuttgart. Marc Oliver Kempf gave Hertha the lead before Sehrou Guirassy equalised for die Schwaben. Hertha retook the lead in first-half stoppage time through Florian Neiderlechner, and they kept Stuttgart at bay in the second period to wrap up all three points.
Despite picking up a much-needed victory, Hertha remain bottom of the Bundesliga table with three games left to play. They are three points away from the relegation playoff spot and five points adrift of safety altogether.
With time running out, Hertha will be desperate to claim a victory on Friday, but their away form does not inspire optimism. Having picked up just five points from their 15 league matches on the road, Hertha currently hold the worst away record in the Bundesliga. Their sole away win of the Bundesliga season took place in September when they beat Augsburg 2-0.
If they can claim all three points on Saturday, then Hertha will complete a league double over their opponents after winning 2-0 in November's reverse fixture.
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