Frankfurt - Saturday's late game sees Bundesliga strugglers Eintracht Frankfurt host high-flying Hertha Berlin at the Commerzbank Arena (kick-off 18:30 CET).
The Eagles will be out to banish memories of the two sides' last encounter on the opening day of the 2013/14 season, when Armin Veh's team suffered a humiliating 6-1 defeat to newly-promoted Hertha. Jos Luhukay's side, meanwhile, will be hoping to pick up where they left off on the final day of the Hinrunde when they beat Borussia Dortmund 2-1 at the Signal Iduna Park.
Back in August, many will have expected Hertha to be in Frankfurt's current position in the Bundesliga table. The Old Lady, however, delivered an emphatic response to those who doubted their top-flight credentials with a resounding opening-day victory over the Eagles, who themselves had finished in the European places at the end of the previous campaign. Since then, Hertha have gone from strength to strength, while Frankfurt find themselves perilously close to the Bundesliga relegation zone, having yet to win at home all season.
Despite their precarious position near the foot of the league, coach Armin Veh firmly believes his players can drag themselves out of trouble. "The break has done us good," said the 52-year-old. "Psychologically, a home victory would be fantastic for us. We have the opportunity to make up [for the defeat to Hertha in August]." Alexander Meier, meanwhile, has denied his team-mates' priority is revenge against the Berliners. "We'd forgotten all about the 6-1 three days after it. That result is no longer relevant," he explained.
Kraft to return
Meier is set to join Japan international Takashi Inui and Stefan Aigner as part of Frankfurt's attacking midfield trio against Hertha, despite finishing training early on Friday. "Taking him out of training was just a precaution" confirmed Veh at his pre-match press conference. "Meier will play tomorrow." Marco Russ is likely to start in the centre of the defence in place of Bamba Anderson, while Jan Rosenthal could assume the lone striker role.
Hertha keeper Thomas Kraft is likely to take his place in goal for Hertha despite suffering with a back injury during their winter training camp. Norwegian stopper Rune Jarstein is set to start on the bench in the absence of Marius Gersbeck and Sascha Buchert. John Anthony Brooks is sidelined with a knee injury, while injuries to Alexander Baumjohann and Tolga Cigerci could mean a start for Per Skjelbred in midfield.
Those injuries in midfield mean Brazilian Ronny could play some part at the Commerzbank Arena, but whichever team he selects, Luhukay has no doubt his players will be up to the task. "We have several options in midfield," he said on Friday. "The most important thing is that we have some stability in our line-up."
Like everyone associated with the capital club, Luhukay has been delighted with his team's efforts so far this season, and the former FC Augsburg coach is hoping his players can carry the momentum from the first half of the season into the Rückrunde. "The way we've performed these past six months has been very impressive, so it's important we continue to make life difficult for our opponents, rather than focus on our league position," he explained. "It's going to be a challenge to hit the heights of 2013, but that's our motivation."
Eintracht Frankfurt: Trapp - Jung, Zambrano, Russ, Djakpa - Schwegler, Rode - Aigner, Meier, Inui - Rosenthal
Hertha Berlin: Kraft - Pekarik, Lustenberger, Langkamp, van den Bergh - Hosogai, Niemeyer - Allagui, Skjelbred, Schulz - Ramos