Thu 21 May by Mark Gleeson
Tonight’s two pools reflect the growing number of leagues now back in action after the coronavirus health scare and the sense that football is returning to normal even if at the wrong time of the year.
Ordinarily, seasons would now be closing, cup finals decided and only the outcome of the Champions League still to be decided … but the lengthy lockdown has changed all of that.
But action-starved soccer fans are not exactly complaining.
The pick of the matches is the Berlin derby between Hertha and Union, once divided on the separate sides of the infamous wall and playing each other for only the second time in the Bundesliga.
Hertha made a winning start under new coach Bruno Labbadia a week ago in a shock 3-0 win at Hoffenheim while Union are fresh off the back of a 2-0 home defeat to league leaders Bayern Munich.
Union are now winless in three, and are looking up at their Berlin rivals in the standings for the first time since August. Urs Fischer's promoted side won the first derby of the Bundesliga era 1-0 earlier in the campaign when Sebastian Polter's second-half penalty settled matters in an historic encounter.
In the German second division, hosts Nurnberg are desperately struggling for points as they face relegation again but should find it tough against Erzgebirge Aue.
The banker in this pool looks to come from the Belarus league where Shakhtyor Soligorsk host Belshina, whose elevation to the top flight looks beyond their ability and seen them winless after nine matches.