1. FC Union Berlin mark the return of competitive league football with Saturday’s home game in Köpenick against Bundesliga league leaders Borussia Mönchengladbach.
Review: Union hold on to lead in Mainz, Gladbach set the pace
A fortnight ago, Urs Fischer’s team left Mainz with all three points. Union steamed into a three-goal lead with a double from Sebastian Andersson and an own goal by Daniel Brosinski. Sandro Schwarz, later replaced by Achim Beierlorzer, encouraged his team back into proceedings to score two late goals, which were ultimately a consolation. Fischer’s team are riding high in the form table for the last five matches with Union taking 9 out of a possible 15 points — a record only bettered by Hoffenheim and Gladbach.
The Foals are four clear at the summit ahead of RB Leipzig, Bayern Munich and Freiburg. Marco Rose, who moved into the job after leaving RB Salzburg, has made an immediate impression. Gladbach have suffered defeat just twice in the Bundesliga — away to Borussia Dortmund in October and at home to Leipzig. In their last three games against Frankfurt, Leverkusen and Bremen, Gladbach have scored nine goals. In the Europa League, Rose’s team are on track to qualify for the Last 32 after beating Roma 2-1 — their first win of the group phase after a surprise defeat to Austrian cracks Wolfsberger AC.
“Borussia Mönchengladbach are on fire,” said Fischer at the pre-match press conference. “The team is on a run and is doing a lot right. Good organisation, they develop a good dynamic, play quick switches, strong in tackles and press a lot. It’s not undeserved for them to be top of the league.”
Record: Historic German Cup semi final
1. FC Union Berlin's only competitive meeting with Gladbach sits as one of the most memorable 90 minutes in the club's history. Before the 2001 German Cup final in Berlin, Union progressed in dramatic fashion, eliminating second-tier Gladbach on penalties. The semi-final in Köpenick ended 2-2 with Union, then in the third division, running out 4-2 winners. Current Gladbach sporting director Max Eberl missed a penalty in his last visit to the Stadion An der Alten Försterei.
Personnel: Returnees from Euro qualifiers, still injuries
There is not enormous change to the injury list with Grischa Prömel, Andy Gogia and Laurenz Dehl out. Suleiman Abdullahi took a knock on his head in a friendly win over Holstein Kiel and the Nigerian is making slow steps back to training. Attacker Joshua Mees is doubtful after only returning to training recently from a muscle problem. After picking up his fifth yellow card, Robert Andrich is suspended.
Meanwhile, Andersson and Christopher Trimmel have been off on national team duty this past week, and both returned after successfully guiding their teams to EURO 2020. Fischer added: “Our two internationals came back safe and found and took part in training. Trimmel is still recovering, but both are fit and healthy. Abdullahi is in better shape, but hasn’t trained yet. Joshua Mees is back on the pitch but Saturday’s game probably comes too early for him.”
Service: Sell out
As is often the case in Köpenick, the Stadion An der Alten Försterei is sold out for Saturday’s match. The secondary ticket market is open here.
The public transport situation also hasn’t changed, with supporters encouraged to come via train or bicycle rather than car as there are limited parking spots around the ground.