Hiroshi Kiyotake was a somewhat marginal figure on Matchday 1, and will be looking to take a more dominant role against the capital club
Hiroshi Kiyotake was a somewhat marginal figure on Matchday 1, and will be looking to take a more dominant role against the capital club

Japanese duo to take leading role in Nuremberg

Nuremberg – The first instalment of Sunday’s action on Matchday 2 in the Bundesliga comes from Bavaria, where 1. FC Nürnberg welcome capital club Hertha Berlin to the Grundig Stadion (kick-off 15:30 CEST).

Club yet to get going

The hosts are looking for their first win of the season in their maiden outing in front of their home fans, but many people's eyes will be on the visitors, whose tails will be firmly up after their opening day 6-1 trouncing of Eintracht Frankfurt last time out.

Nürnberg’s season began disappointingly with defeat in the DFB Cup to Bundesliga 2 side SV Sandhausen, but there were signs of a marked improvement for the Bavarians in their opening league game last weekend. After falling two goals behind, they fought back to gain a 2-2 draw, with striker Daniel Ginczek scoring his second goal in as many games for the club.

“We are capable of scoring,” stated head coach Michael Wiesinger confidently in his pre-match press conference, although he did acknowledge the dangers that a "well-organised" Hertha side will pose. One man he will be looking for more creativity from than last week is talismanic Japanese midfielder Hiroshi Kiyotake. The 23-year-old was the club’s star player in 2012/13, scoring five goals and providing 13 assists, but he had a quiet game in Hoffenheim.

Hertha buzzing

Hertha have their own Japanese midfielder to lead them in Hajime Hosogai, who enjoyed a barnstorming debut in the 6-1 hammering of Frankfurt, after which, remarkably, the Old Lady sat atop the Bundesliga table for the first time since Matchday 25 in 2008/09.

The victory over the Eagles showcased their skill at playing on the counterattack as they picked Frankfurt off time and again, with Sami Allagui rampant on the wing and Brazilian sharpshooting substitute Ronny also scoring his first of the season. A similar plan may well be what coach Jos Luhukay has in mind this Sunday, especially playing against a side as strong at home as Nürnberg – der Club lost just four games on their own patch last term.

Nilsson misses out, Brooks a doubt

Nürnberg are without central defender and club top scorer from last season Per Nilsson, who aggravated a thigh injury playing for Sweden in midweek, as well as attacking midfielder Timo Gebhart, out with a pelvic complaint.

Hertha have their own injury worries, however, with Marcel Ndjeng (ankle) and Johannes van den Bergh (thigh) sidelined and a number of players potentially fatigued after international duty, such as John Anthony Brooks who played 90 minutes for the USA against Bosnia-Herzegovina in midweek.

Possible line-ups:

Nürnberg: Schäfer - Chandler, Dabanli, Pogatetz, Pinola - Balitsch - Kiyotake, Stark, Frantz, Mak - Ginczek

Hertha: Kraft - Pekarik, Langkamp, Brooks, Kobiashvili - Lustenberger, Hosogai - Allagui, Baumjohann, Ben-Hatira - Ramos

Bernie Reeves