1. FC Union Berlin vs FC Schalke 04
Bundesliga, 21. Matchday
1. FC Union vs Schalke
Bundesliga, 21. Matchday
Union pick up home point against Schalke
1. FC Union Berlin battled to another Bundesliga point, drawing 0-0 at home to Schalke.
Urs Fischer's side will be left frustrated at missed chances to claim all three points and end a four-game winless streak. However, in freezing cold conditions under the Stadion An der Alten Försterei floodlights, Union showed character and fight to move one point closer to the club's survival objectives.
1. FC Union Berlin: Karius; Trimmel, Knoche, Friedrich, Hübner, Gießelmann; Gentner (Prömel 69), Andrich; Ingvartsen, Awoniyi (Teuchert 85), Pohjanpalo (Musa 62)
Schalke: Fährmann; Becker, Mustafi, Thiam, Kolasinac; Stambouli, Bentaleb (Boujellab 64), Harit; Hoppe, William (Raman 64), Serdar
The Union head coach was forced into a goalkeeping change this week with Andreas Luthe out due to personal reasons. Loris Karius, on loan from English champions Liverpool, started for the first time — his debut for the club in the top-flight came off the bench against Borussia Mönchengladbach a fortnight ago. Florian Hübner returned in place of the suspended Nico Schlotterbeck, while Christopher Trimmel celebrated his 50th Bundesliga game for 1. FC Union Berlin. Inside four minutes, the Köpenick club carved out a clear goalscoring opportunity to move into the lead. Taiwo Awoniyi found a yard on the Schalke central defenders and stormed through on Ralf Fährmann's goal but the away goalkeeper came on top in both challenges. Despite their position at the bottom of the Bundesliga, Schalke have improved and stabilised under the experienced hands of Christian Gross. The Royal Blues were more active in the first half and got the better of Union at times. Suat Serdar came close with a long-range effort, but most of their play was maintained outside of the penalty box. Union themselves weren't quite at the races when it came to creating chances — the best effort from a 25-yard volley by Christian Gentner with about 10 to go until the turnaround.
The second half saw the return of a much-improved Union. The team grew in confidence, picked up more of the second balls and started to show the kind of play we've seen in the Bundesliga this season. On 55 minutes, Robert Andrich sliced open the Schalke defensive block to find Niko Gießelmann, the left-back crossing into the area for Pohjanpalo. The Finn threw himself at the ball but was unable to guide it goalwards. Another 60 seconds had barely passed before Pohjanpalo handed a fantastic chance for Awoniyi on a plate, but the on-loan striker shot wide. Pohjanpalo's race was up after the hour mark and he was replaced by late January signing Petar Musa, who made his debut in the Bundesliga last week at Mainz. Andrich's contribution was enormous in the second 45 and the midfielder created another opportunity, finding Awoniyi with his back to the goal. He laid the ball cutely off to Marcus Ingvartsen but Fährmann got down quickly to his left to make the save. The Dane might have found the winner on 85 minutes, latching on to Grischa Prömel's cross but Ingvartsen didn't get enough purchase on the header. The Royal Blues asked some questions before the final whistle — Armine Harit's claims for a penalty kick were waved by referee Daniel Schlager. Harit stood over a free-kick in the final minutes with the chance to score, but his strike was secured by Karius who celebrated his first Bundesliga start in Union colours with a clean sheet.
Union host bottom-of-the-table Schalke
1. FC Union Berlin are back at the Stadion An der Alten Försterei this Saturday, facing bottom-placed Schalke in the Bundesliga as Urs Fischer's team look to end a four-game winless streak.
1. FC Union Berlin's run without a victory stretched to four games with a 0-1 defeat away to relegation-battlers Mainz. Moussa Niakhate scored from the penalty spot midway through the first half following a tackle by Nico Schlotterbeck on Karim Onisiwo. Andreas Luthe was beaten and Bo Svensson's team held on to take all three points. After a home point against Borussia Mönchengladbach a week earlier, Union struggled to get into a rhythm, disrupted by Mainz's pressing and direct play. New signing Petar Musa made his Bundesliga debut for the club, coming off the bench alongside Joel Pohjanpalo. Union's potential fight back was dealt a blow late on when Schlotterbeck was shown a second yellow card by referee Sascha Steegeman.
Christian Gross took the reigns at the Veltins Arena at the end of December, inheriting a club which is currently nine points away from the relegation play-off place. Schalke have won one game since January 2020 - a 4-0 victory over Hoffenheim with a stunning hat-trick for 19-year-old American striker Matthew Hoppe. The Royal Blues will head to Köpenick under extreme pressure to pick up points, but according to Urs Fischer, Union will need to wary of a team which has "stabilised" under new management. Schalke went out of the German Cup last week after a good performance in Wolfsburg, while Gross' side were unfortunate not to take something against RB Leipzig in the Bundesliga.
Urs Fischer's selections issues have eased in recent weeks - Anthony Ujah is recovering from his operation and Max Kruse is still building up fitness but could be available for next week's game in Freiburg. Nico Schlotterbeck is suspended following his two yellow cards in Mainz a week ago, while Sheraldo Becker is still struggling. Andreas Luthe is unavailable for selection due to personal reasons. Christopher Lenz's muscle issues haven't cleared up yet and he will be out of the squad for another week. The good news is the slow return of Grischa Prömel who has trained alone with Christian Gentner and taken part in some parts of team training. Both are expected to complete team training tomorrow and a decision will be made on their availability.
Saturday's 18:30 kick-off will take place behind closed doors.