UEFA Europa League – Hertha-Östersund – Hertha v Östersund background
Hertha take on Östersund in the Berliner Olympiastadion with the two clubs’ fates in Group J already sealed.
• The German team, with just four points from five matches, can progress no further in the competition, whereas the Swedish side’s debut European campaign is certain to continue into the spring. They can even top the group if they either win in Berlin or Athletic Club fail to take three points from their matchday six trip to Zorya.
• Östersund’s first meeting with German opponents brought a 1-0 home win over Hertha on matchday two, a 22nd-minute penalty from Iraqi midfielder Brwa Nouri deciding the outcome at the Jämtkraft Arena.
• Hertha had won all three previous UEFA encounters with Swedish sides, including one at home – a 3-1 victory over Elfsborg in the 1971/72 UEFA Cup.
• Hertha have not conceded in any of their last three European home games and have lost only one of their last eight (W4 D3).
• Östersund have a perfectly balanced away record in Europe (W2 D1 L2), scoring six goals and shipping the same number.
• Östersund are the first Swedish club to qualify for the knockout phase of the UEFA Europa League. Four others – AIK, Elfsborg, Helsingborg and Malmö – have competed in the group stage but made no further progress. Indeed, Östersund have already registered as many group stage victories (three) as those four clubs put together.
• Sixth in Germany last season, Hertha made it through the UEFA Europa League group stage on their most recent appearance, in 2009/10, but they were eliminated by Brøndby in last year’s third qualifying round.
• First-time Swedish Cup winners in 2016/17, Östersund are enjoying an exceptional debut UEFA campaign, having eliminated Galatasaray, Fola Esch and PAOK during the qualifying phase and reached the round of 32 with a game to spare.
Links and trivia
• The journey from Ostersund to Berlin is around 1,200km.
• Hertha’s Salomon Kalou was a 2011/12 UEFA Champions League winner with Chelsea.
• This is Hertha’s 96th UEFA game – and Östersund’s 12th.
• Östersund concluded their 2017 Swedish Allsvenskan campaign on 5 November. They finished fifth, 14 points behind champions Malmö; it is the highest final placing in the club’s history.
• Östersund goalkeeper Aly Keita turns 31 the day after this game.
• Suspended for next match if booked: Fouad Bachirou, Ronald Mukiibi (Östersund).
• Englishman Graham Potter has helped steer Östersund from the Swedish fourth tier to the UEFA Europa League since taking the reins in 2011. He played in England’s lower leagues with teams including Birmingham, Stoke and West Brom.
• Pál Dárdai joined Hertha as a player in 1997 and made a club-record 366 league appearances for Die Alte Dame. He coached Hertha’s youth team – and his native Hungary’s senior side – for a time before taking the main job at the Berlin club in 2015.