Japanese colleagues Hiroshi Kiyotake (l.) and Hajime Hosogai (r.) will be on opposite sides on Sunday when Nürnberg travel to Berlin
Japanese colleagues Hiroshi Kiyotake (l.) and Hajime Hosogai (r.) will be on opposite sides on Sunday when Nürnberg travel to Berlin

Differing priorities for Hertha and Nürnberg

Berlin - is looking forward to welcoming to the Olympiastadion when Hertha Berlin host 1. FC Nürnberg on Sunday (kick-off 15:30 CET)

'Bundesliga best in world'

The two Japanese internationals will be under the spotlight as both sides look for three points for different reasons, as well as capitalise on the other results this weekend.

Hosogai's Berlin will be looking to bounce straight back from defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt last weekend, and keep up their push for a top-six finish against a side who won for only the first time all season last weekend. "It's going to be a tough game," predicted Hosogai. "Nürnberg have emerged from the winter break with the bit between their teeth, but we're at home and we want to seize the initiative.

"We want to build on our performances from the first half of the season and win," added Hosogai, whose friendship with compatriot Kiyotake will cool for 90 minutes. "We're in touch often, talking about football and the Bundesliga." When the subject of Germany's elite football league comes up, then only positive words are spoken "The Bundesliga is one of the best leagues in the world,” continues the former Bayer 04 Leverkusen and FC Augsburg man.

Turning the page

"You can measure up to many great players each week. Many Japanese players have found their way here, and that also shows how our style of play appeals to the Bundesliga. Because of this, the Bundesliga is becoming increasingly popular in Japan." Hosogai can boost his own reputation by earning the Old Lady a win which would take them above 1. FSV Mainz 04 and VfL Wolfsburg into sixth place, and back in the hunt for a place in the UEFA Europa League.

Nürnberg have other objectives, however. After winning their first game of the season last weekend, they want to put a run together that can help to further extricate themselves from the relegation mire. Josip Drmic was on target twice in the 4-0 triumph over 1899 Hoffenheim and he is looking more optimistically towards the future. "We knew the page would have to turn eventually," says the Swiss international, whose side could go as high as 15th with victory.

Positive record

"We’ve been working hard in recent weeks and kept on improving," added Nürnberg's eight-goal marksman. "After the many unfortunate moments in the first half of the season, we picked up a lot of confidence, especially in our mid-season warm-up games." That confidence certainly showed against Hoffenheim, when the Franconians put n undoubtedly their best performance of the season so far, but Drmic still has great objectives for the remainder of 2014.

"After all the negativity of going 17 games without a win, we want to become the first side to avoid relegation after such an unfortunate first half of the season," Drmic said. "That would then go down as a positive record." Nürnberg are without their other Japanese star Makoto Hasebe, but new signing Jose Campana is an option to freshly-shaved coach Gertjan Verbeek, who was able to remove his beard after celebrating his first win in charge on Matchday 18. The Dutchman will be hoping for cause for another trim after Sunday’s action in the capital.

Possible line-ups:

Hertha: Kraft - Pekarik, Lustenberger, Langkamp, van den Bergh - Hosogai, Kobiashvili - Allagui, Skjelbred, Schulz - Ramos

Nürnberg: Schäfer - Chandler, Petrak, Pinola, Plattenhardt - Frantz - Drmic, Feulner, Kiyotake, Hlousek - Ginczek

Ben Gladwell