With FC Bayern München and Borussia Dortmund blazing a trail at the top of the Bundesliga, Bavaria's capital and the Ruhr Valley's cultural heartland are all but guaranteed UEFA Champions League football next season, but what about Germany's capital?
Hertha Berlin remain the best of the rest after Matchday 25, and the Berlin club look set to join the leaders at European football's top table. Bundesliga.com takes a closer look at football in Europe's hippest city…
Established in 1892, Hertha were one of the founding members of the Bundesliga in 1963. Located on the banks of the Rivers Spree and Havel and named after a steamship passing through the area in the late 19th century, the Old Lady play their football at the heart of the Berlin-Brandenburg Metropolitan Region, which boasts six million residents from over 180 countries.
Cosmopolitan city, cosmopolitan team
The team of recent years has come to resemble this multi-national backdrop. Hertha's top goalscorers this season are Ivorian and Bosnian respectively, in the shape of Salomon Kalou and Vedad Ibisevic; they are captained by Switzerland international Fabian Lustenberger (pictured); and although current coach Pal Dardai has a record 286 Bundesliga appearances with the club, the 39-year-old hails from Pecs, in Hungary.
Despite their cosmopolitan side, Hertha have not rubbed shoulders with a team from outside of Germany competitively since 2010, when they got to the UEFA Europa League Round of 32, whilst their first and hitherto only foray in the Champions League came in the 1999/2000 season, when they made it to the since-abandoned second group stage.
"I think it would be cool to play in the Champions League," said 27-year-old Lustenberger, who is in his ninth season at the Olympiastadion. "We are third, and we know what is possible if we continue to play to our level."
Dardai: 'no miracle'
Lustenberger could yet get that chance. Hertha have been in the Champions League places for 14 of the 25 Matchdays so far, and in the top three for all but one week since the turn of the year.
"Those who see us every day cannot call that a miracle," says Dardai (pictured, l.), who replaced Jos Luhukay last February, lifting the side from 17th to a 15th-place finish. "It has been a lot of hard work. We have not even enjoyed good luck until recently! We are also up there because some big teams have made a lot of mistakes."
A number of those mistakes have been as a result of Hertha's play, though. Dortmund's goalless draw with Bayern in Der Klassiker on Saturday was only the second time this season that Thomas Tuchel's side have failed to score in the Bundesliga. The first? Against Hertha on Matchday 20, when Norwegian goalkeeper Rune Jarstein put in a miserly performance to deny the then-league top scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and his Schwarz-Gelben team-mates.
Dancing to European qualification?
Berlin was partying that night, as it has on numerous others. After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, many historic buildings in Mitte - the former city centre of East Berlin - became fertile ground for underground and counterculture gatherings, and in the 1990s young people from throughout Europe turned the German capital's club scene into a premier nightlife destination.
Hertha's displays on the pitch have had similar verve in other matches this campaign, with Matchday 15's 2-1 win over Bayer 04 Leverkusen showing that the capital club could outmatch other Champions League aspirants. Three-goal routs of Hamburger SV and Hannover 96, alongside the 4-0 dismantling of SV Darmstadt 98 in December mean that Die Blau-Weißen can also win tricky games that other sides might take for granted.
In third with nine games left to play, Hertha the club and Berlin the city could yet prove equally plausible hosts for Europe's high-rollers next season.