1. FC Union Berlin visit Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday at 15:30 as Urs Fischer’s team look to get back to winning ways in the fifth Bundesliga encounter of the season.
Review: Frustration in Köpenick, Leverkusen off the boil in Europe
The international break allowed Union to soak up the aftermath of the outstanding win over Borussia Dortmund three weeks ago, ahead of Werder Bremen’s visit to the Stadion An der Alten Försterei last Saturday. Emotions ran high as Florian Kohlfeldt’s side left with all three points through Niklas Füllkrug’s second-half winner. Controversy marred the opening phases as Davy Klaassen netted from a questionable penalty award — after a three-minute VAR wait. However, the lead was cut short after 14 minutes when Sebastian Andersson slotted home his third in consecutive matches in the top flight. Rafal Gikiewicz temporarily kept the score at 1-1 with a penalty save from Klaassen, but former Hannover striker Füllkrug bulleted in a header from the near post in front of the travelling support. At the end, Neven Subotic and Nuri Sahin were given their marching orders after two bookable offences each. A frustrating afternoon overall, but Union continued to show great character and offensive strength with a number of late chances to get something from a tempestuous contest.
Frustration was the name of the game for Peter Bosz’s men in midweek as Leverkusen fell to a 2-1 home defeat to Lokomotiv Moscow in the Champions League. Benedikt Höwedes scored an own goal to give Leverkusen a route back, but the Russians held out and landed a tough blow with Leverkusen facing three difficult tests to come against Juventus & Atletico Madrid home and away. In the Bundesliga, Leverkusen’s performances have been mixed. After wins against Paderborn and Fortuna Düsseldorf, Bosz’s side drew at home to Hoffenheim before losing heavily by four goals at title-chasers Borussia Dortmund.
Record: Cup losses to Leverkusen
Union’s first league meeting with Bayer Leverkusen takes place this weekend, but the teams are rather familiar foes in the DFB Pokal. In 2017/18, Union rocked the BayArena with a superb performance — on & off the field — although succumbed to an extra-time defeat after Dennis Daube’s equaliser in the regular 90. Leverkusen won 5-0 in the same competition back in 2003.
Bayer Leverkusen are unbeaten in five Bundesliga home matches — their last defeat in April to RB Leipzig. Meanwhile, Union have managed a solitary away win from the last eight attempts, the convincing triumph in the first round of the DFB Pokal in Halberstadt. The Köpenick club’s debut away match in the Bundesliga ended 1-1 at Augsburg, the first point of the league campaign.
Personnel: Subotic & Prömel missing
Fischer confirmed Grischa Prömel's continued absence, with the midfielder expected to return to training on Monday. Neven Subotic is suspended, but Keven Schlotterbeck is available after his two-game ban. Lennard Maloney, Julius Kade and Maurice Opfermann Arcones featured in the Baltic Sea Cup and all three will be unavailable as they undergo regeneration over the weekend.
"I consider Bayer Leverkusen to be one of the top four teams, although the last two games weren't so positive," said Urs Fischer on Thursday. "But they play with a lot of possession, quick transitions and high levels of individual quality. For me, Leverkusen is one of the top four Bundesliga teams."
Service: Tickets on sale
Tickets are still available for the Union end at the BayArena on matchday.
Here is the up-to-date travel information for supporters going on the special trains.