On Sunday, 20.08.2023, 1. FC Union Berlin will face 1. FSV Mainz 05 for the first league match of the 2023/24 Bundesliga season. Kick-off at the Stadion An der Alten Försterei is at 15:30, admission starts at 13:30.
As a player Mainz head coach Bo Svensson wore the FSV shirt in over a hundred competitive matches between 2007 and 2014. After his playing career he moved into coaching at the club, initially as an assistant and youth coach, before he got the call to take over the relegation threatened Bundesliga team in January 2021. Under Svensson, the team stabilised, picked up 32 points in the second half of the season and finished the season in twelfth place. And since then those fears have been well and truly allayed. In 2021/22, they finished eighth, last year it was ninth.
To ensure that the club continues to be represented in the top flight following this, their 15th consecutive Bundesliga season, Svensson, alongside director of sports communication Christian Heidel and sporting director Martin Schmidt has strengthened the team in several positions over the summer. Among others, they have signed midfielder Tom Krauß from RasenBallsport Leipzig and goalkeeper Daniel Batz from 1. FC Saarbrücken. In addition, central defender Sepp van den Berg has been loaned from Liverpool FC for one year. However, this is balanced with the departure of key players Aaron Martin (Genoa CFC) and Marcus Ingvartsen (FC Nordsjaelland).
The Mainz team prepared for the new season with a training camp in Austria, along with friendlies against TuS Koblenz (6-1), FC St. Gallen (4-1) and the Premier League club Burnley FC (3-0). In the first round of the DFB Pokal they narrowly beat SV Elversberg, 1-0, last weekend.
The head to head
In the past nine matches between the sides, Union have only lost once, having taken three draws and five victories from the meetings. Last season, it was 0-0 in Mainz and Union won 2-1 at home.
None of András Schäfer, Lucas Tousart, Janik Haberer or Rani Khedira will be available for selection on Sunday.
The coach’s views ahead of the match
"We're all excited that it's finally back to playing for points," said Urs Fischer during his pre-match press conference on Friday afternoon. "For us, it will be about getting our basics right on the pitch. I expect a very close and competitive game in which both teams will give nothing away. Mainz are compactly organised, are good on the break and are dangerous from set-pieces. With Ludovic Ajorque, they also have a target player who is good at holding the ball up."
Meanwhile Mainz coach, Svensson, had this to say about his hosts. "Union have strengthened across the board. If you look at the current squad, the team has definitely not become worse compared to last season." He added, "It's no secret that Union are extremely strong at home. But we are in this league to face exactly those challenges."
The match is sold out and will be broadcast live on DAZN. There will also be an audio stream on rbb24 Inforadio and rbb24.de. As usual, Union will also provide information on the match via the club's own live ticker, as well as in English and Spanish on Twitter.