On Saturday, March 2, 2024, 1. FC Union Berlin will host Borussia Dortmund in their 24th match of the Bundesliga season. Kick off at the Stadion An der Alten Försterei is at 15:30.
The lie of the land
Last weekend's 3-2 defeat at home to TSG 1899 Hoffenheim was the first of the second half of the season for a Dortmund side who remain in the Chmapions league places in 4th place in the table. This continues the trend that has seen them in the top five for the last 20 matchdays, and they have have picked up eleven points from six games so far since the start of the second half of the season, just like Union.
Most recently, the hosts drew 2-2 at home against 1. FC Heidenheim, and are unbeaten in six Bundesliga games at the Stadion An der Alten Försterei.
The Black & Yellows' attacking duo of Niclas Füllkrug and Donyell Malen have already scored a combined 21 goals this season and set up nine more. However, Malen will miss the game in Köpenick due to suspension.
There are some new, if not all entirely unfamiliar faces, in a Dortmund squad whose transfer department responded to absences and injuries in the winter by loaning two players from the Premier League. Left-back Ian Maatsen, who arrived from Chelsea FC, has so far played all of the eight possible games from the start and set up two goals. Returning player Jadon Sancho (previously Manchester United), who had already played for BVB from 2017-2021, also got off to a good start after his transfer. He has scored twice in seven games.
Dortmund are also still in European competition, having drawn 1-1 in Eindhoven in the first leg of the Champions League round of 16 to put themselves in a good position for the second leg in front of a home crowd.
In the DFB Pokal, however, BVB lost 2-0 to VfB Stuttgart in the third round.
Julian Ryerson returns to his old stomping ground for the first time since his transfer a year ago. The 26-year-old played 109 games for Union and was one of the promotion heroes of the 2019/20 season. Nico Schlotterbeck will also be welcomed back to the Alte Försterei; the SC Freiburg loanee having made 17 appearances for Union in the 2020/21 season.
The head to head
Union's record against BVB at the Stadion An der Alten Försterei is enough to give many Union fans hope, having won three of their four encounters in Berlin-Köpenick. But this season in the last match,they lost 4-2, despite a strong first half and a 2-1 lead at one stage thanks to goals from Robin Gosens and Leonardo Bonucci.
Head coach Nenad Bjelica will be without Robin Gosens due to his suspension for a fifth booking.
The coaches' views ahead of the game
"Dortmund are one of the top teams in the league and are strong both offensively and defensively," said Union's head coach, nenad Bjelica ahead of Saturday's tie. "But we think we have a chance because we know that we can beat anyone at home. We are counting on our fans and are looking forward to this game in a sold-out stadium."
BVB coach Edin Terzic had this to say of his own side's ambitions, meanwhile: "We are convinced that we can reach the Champions League. We brought the first defeat of the calendar year on ourselves. It's in our hands - we have to do everything we can in the coming weeks, stay clear and work calmly and confidently."
As usual, the Stadion An der Alten Försterei opens two hours before kick-off and is sold out in all areas. As the S-Bahn service is interrupted, Union is supplementing the existing rail replacement service with shuttle buses. More information can be found here. Please also note that the Hämmerlingstraße underpass is closed.
The match will be broadcast live on Sky and there will also be an audio stream on rbb24 Inforadio and rbb24. As usual, Union will also provide information about the match via the club's own live ticker as well as updates on twitter in both English and Spanish.