Hertha Berlin set the bar at an unreachable height during their opening games of pre-season – a 16-0 thrashing of Schwarz-Rot Neustadt followed by a 7-0 win against MSV Neuruppin – and Pal Dardai’s side have since registered a trio of stalemates versus fellow German outfits.
After playing out 4-4 and 2-2 draws with Hannover 96 and FC St Pauli respectively, Hertha Berlin took to the Olympiapark Hanns Braun turf to face VfB Lubeck on July 21,
where Suat Serdar’s opener was cancelled out by Elsamed Ramaj as traffic jams forced a later kickoff than intended.
Dardai’s men were due to board a plane for Hungary to face Europa League winners Villarreal earlier this week, but Unai Emery’s side recorded positive coronavirus cases and were forced to cancel the encounter, meaning that Liverpool will provide the first continental test of the summer for Hertha.
Die Alte Dame have been far from goal-shy during the month of July – racking up a staggering 30 goals from their five pre-season matches, an average of six per game – and one final battle with Gaziantep awaits before a DFB-Pokal tie with SV Meppen takes precedence.
It would be folly to expect Hertha’s in-form attackers to experience the same joy in front of goal against Liverpool, who have been handed two major boosts on the defensive front before their second game of pre-season.
Jurgen Klopp’s defensive crises last term were well-documented, but Thursday could mark the first time since October 2020 that Virgil van Dijk steps foot onto the field, and his fellow centre-back Joe Gomez is also nearing a return to action as optimism continues to grow.
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The Reds did not need either man to help them record a shut-out during their most recent encounter, though, as Luca Kilian’s own goal in the 86th minute of the contest saw Klopp’s side secure a 1-0 win over Mainz 05 after two different Liverpool sides played out 1-1 draws with Stuttgart and Wacker Innsbruck.
With very little happening off the pitch in terms of incomings at the club – although they have waved goodbye to a rather hefty contingent of fringe players – Klopp will only be focused on ending his side’s Austrian stint on a high note before Athletic Bilbao and Osasuna pay a trip to Merseyside next month.
While the two sides have never locked horns competitively, Liverpool eased to a 3-0 success over Hertha Berlin in a friendly four years ago, with Dominic Solanke, Georginio Wijnaldum and Mohamed Salah on the scoresheet