Matchday 26 in the Bundesliga gets underway with a bang on Friday night when third-placed Hertha Berlin play host to pursuants in fourth FC Schalke 04 (kick-off 20:30CET/19:30GMT).
Hertha may have come unstuck in Hamburg on Matchday 25, but they continue to lead the pursuit in the quest for the Bundesliga's third automatic group stage berth in next season's UEFA Champions League.
Their nearest challengers are now Schalke, who are just one point adrift thanks to a 3-1 win in Cologne which has put Andre Breitenreiter's men right where they want to be: challenging for third. With little separating them from 1. FSV Mainz 05 and Borussia Mönchengladbach, the Royal Blues know they will have to be at their best to snatch third from a very tenacious Old Lady.
Max Meyer hit a stoppage-time winner for Schalke as they eventually got the better of a Hertha side forced to play for over three quarters of the game with just ten men following Vedad Ibisevic's red card.
Matchday 25 – match facts
- Hertha's record in 2016 reads two wins, four draws and two defeats, with a negative goal difference of seven goals for and eight against.
- Schalke have won their last two games in a row, scoring three goals in consecutive games for the first time this season.
- Hertha have not lost two games in a row yet this season.
- Schalke are four games unbeaten (W2, D2) – this is their longest unbeaten run since Andre Breitenreiter took charge last summer.
- Hertha have not lost any of their last seven fixtures at the Olympiastadion (W4, D3) while they have conceded just two. This is their longest unbeaten streak at home in Bundesliga history.
- Hertha have not lost a Friday night game under Pal Dardai, winning three and drawing three (seven to three goal difference).
- Hertha have five home games coming up in their next seven fixtures, including a DFB Cup semi-final against Borussia Dortmund, while Bayern are also due in the capital in the Bundesliga.
- Joel Matip is set to play his 250th game for Schalke.
Hertha: Jarstein - Pekarik, Stark, Brooks, Plattenhardt - Skjelbred, Lustenberger - Weiser, Darida, Kalou - Ibisevic
Absentees: Allagui (knee), Schieber (ankle), Kraft (thigh)
Schalke:Fährmann - Junior Caicara, Matip, Neustädter, Aogo - Geis, Höjbjerg - Schöpf, Meyer, Belhanda - Huntelaar
Absentees: Nastastic (Achilles), Höger (knee), Uchida (light training), Höwedes (muscle fibre), Goretzka (knee), Choupo-Moting (pelvis)