As expected, Pál Dárdai made several changes to his starting XI following Wednesday’s DFB Cup defeat to Borussia Dortmund: Valentin Stocker and Fabian Lustenberger both started, while Vladimir Darida and Per Skjelbred were on the bench. Fully recovered from his recent illness, Marvin Plattenhardt also returned to the starting XI at left back, replacing Maximilian Mittelstädt.
Schalke, who were also involved in DFB Cup action earlier in the week, made just one change from the team that beat Sandhausen 4-1: Badstuber coming into the defence in place of Nastasic. January signings Caligiuri and Burgstaller also started in attack.
Hertha started the match patiently, content to sit back and wait for opportunities to attack on the break. Both teams stayed very disciplined tactically, with a lot of the play taking place in the middle of the pitch, resulting in few notable chances. The first good opportunity fell to Salomon Kalou, who fired high and wide following a quick Hertha counter attack (13’).
The Royal Blues were persistent and began to pick out holes in the Berlin defence: Goretzka hitting the crossbar before forcing a strong save from Rune Jarstein one-on-one. Schalke struck shortly before the break, as Burgstaller capitalised some poor Hertha defending and slotting past Jarstein at the near post.
The hosts sat back in the second half, staying compact and allowing Hertha to take control of the game. Even with Darida replacing Stocker at half time, Hertha found it difficult to convert possession into clear chances. At the other end, Goretzka made it look easy when he added Schalke’s second of the game with a low strike from 20-yards. Hertha responded well to the second goal, but efforts from Ibisevic, Pekarik and Langkamp were ultimately not enough to turn the game back into their favour.
Following the 2-0 defeat, Hertha currently sit sixth in the table until tomorrow’s matches are played. It doesn’t get any easier for Dárdai’s side, however, as they welcome league leaders Bayern to Berlin next Saturday (18.02.17) at 15:30 CET.
First half highlights
7th minute: First chance of the match for Schalke, but Goretzka fires well over from distance.
13th minute: Hertha break quickly and Ibisevic plays Kalou through on the left, but Ivorian is unable to keep his left-footed strike down.
5th minute: Phew! Another Goretzka shot from distance, but this time the Germany international rattles the woodwork!
25th minute: JARSTEIN! Goretzka breaks through one-on-one, but the Hertha keeper stands strong and denies the opener. Naldo heads over from the resulting corner.
42nd minute: Schalke find the breakthrough. Following a poor Hertha clearance, Bentaleb picks out Burgstaller, who beats Jarstein at the near post with a powerful shot.
Second half highlights
48th minute: Stark has the ball in the back of the net after a one-two with Ibisevic, but the linesman flags for offside against the Bosnian.
62nd minute: Urgh. Goretzka charges through the middle and finds himself on the edge of the Hertha box with plenty of space to shoot. His strike flies past Jarstein into the bottom left corner and double’s the hosts’ lead.
73rd minute: Noooo! It’s chance after chance for Hertha, as Pekarik charges into the box and fires a low shot just inches past the far post.