FC Augsburg vs 1. FC Union Berlin
Bundesliga, 21. Matchday
Augsburg vs 1. FC Union
Bundesliga, 21. Matchday
Union lose 2-0 at Augsburg
1. FC Union Berlin suffered defeat for the first time in 2022 away at FC Augsburg.
Goals from Michael Gregoritsch and Andre Hahn secured the three points for Augsburg, who are able to move out of the relegation zone, at least temporarily. Union taste a loss for the first time in the new calendar year following seven games in all competitions without defeat.
Urs Fischer handed a debut on 61 minutes for Sven Michel who joined on deadline day from 2.Bundesliga promotion chasers SC Paderborn.
FC Augsburg: Gikiewicz; Iago (Uduokhai 81), Oxford, Framberger, Gouweleeuw; Dorsch, Maier; Vargas (Pedersen 80), Hahn, Gregoritsch; Niederlechner (Zeqiri 74)
1. FC Union Berlin: Luthe; Trimmel, Baumgartl, Knoche, Heintz (Endo 74), Gießelmann (Oczipka 74); Khedira, Haraguchi (Michel 61); Becker, Awoniyi (Behrens 74), Voglsammer (Öztunali 61)
The VVK-Arena in Augsburg is a venue where 1. FC Union Berlin hadn't tasted Bundesliga victory – but it was the home of Union's first goal in the Bundesliga. Urs Fischer's started the first five minutes well and Niko Gießelmann headed wide from Sheraldo Becker's dangerous cross. But afterwards, Markus Weinzierl's side moved up the gears and showed real hunger to improve their dangerous league position in the Bundesliga. Augsburg used the pitch well to play into space and off the ball chased and harried Union into mistakes. Florian Niederlechner could have scored after six minutes, but shot off target. Gregoritsch and Niederlechner combined again with Union's defence at sea, but the number 7 shot wide. The Austrian forward would put Augsburg ahead after 16 minutes, assisted by poor play in the build-up from Union Berlin. The ball was nabbed off Robin Knoche by Niklas Dorsch and Gregoritsch finished from inside the 18-yard-box. Despite the odd foray into Augsburg territory, the home side will have felt they could have put this game to bed before the 45 minutes were up. Andre Hahn lost control at the vital moment when the goal was at his mercy. Opportunities came up for Fischer's men to hit back and change the dynamics of the game, but the final pass or luck in the box was missing. Becker turned in a succession of deliveries around the 22nd-minute mark but the returning Taiwo Awoniyi was unable to convert from those attacks. Augsburg's momentum soon picked up again and Christopher Trimmel cleared off the line from Florian Niederlechner on 25 minutes. Union gifted Augsburg another opportunity to break on 40 minutes, the ball falling to Gregoritsch whose speculative hit from distance cannoned off Andreas Luthe's crossbar. The Austrian lashed at the effort from around 35 yards out, and slightly lower would have seen the ball hit the back of the net. Augsburg's dominance could have stretched further than 1-0 but Union did claw their way back into the game after the Gregoritsch's chance. A concerted period of pressure saw Niko Gießelmann again attack the penalty box, but this time he headed over Rafal Gikieiwcz's as the home side held the league into the break.
Just five minutes into the second half, Union created their best chance to level. Christopher Trimmel progressed down the right, drew the ball back cleverly towards the edge of the box, but Haraguchi scuffed his attempted finish. Augsburg regained their position of dominance in front of 7,000 home supporters who gave their team an impressive backing. Luthe saved from Gregoritsch but two minutes later, the ball was in the net. Hahn picked up the ball in space around 30 yards from Union's goal and fizzed a spectacular shot into the top corner. A further save from Arne Maier kept Augsburg within a two-goal range. Fischer went to his bench and one of his first introductions was Michel who begins a new chapter of his career at the Stadion An der Alten Försterei following a successful period at Paderborn. Levin Öztunali joined the new Union number 10 on the park, and within minutes, Michel tested Gikiewicz with a well-struck effort from about 25 yards out. Bastian Oczipka, Kevin Behrens and Keita Endo saw action after 74 minutes as the Union head coach twisted with all of his options used up for the final quarter of an hour. Endo linked well from the left-hand side and saw a shot kept out by Gikiewicz on 77 minutes. Referee Harm Osmers and his team added three minutes of additional time for Union to find a route back into the game. A late free-kick almost opened Union's account for the afternoon but Gikiewicz made a point-blank save from Michel to protect his clean sheet against his former club.
1. FC Union take on Augsburg
After the international break, 1. FC Union Berlin return to Bundesliga action with a trip to FC Augsburg on Saturday afternoon (15:30 kick-off CET).
Review – The last match
Union are unbeaten in all competitions in 2022. Urs Fischer's side have beaten Hoffenheim and Borussia Mönchengladbach while drawing at Champions League-chasing Bayer Leverkusen. Three days after securing a place in the German Cup quarter-finals, 1. FC Union Berlin ran out 2-1 winners at Borussia-Park before the international break came into play. The Köpenick club took the lead through Max Kruse's penalty kick before Manu Kone equalised for the hosts ahead of the interval. The energy-sapping events of the week in the Olympic Stadium led to tired legs for the visitors but Fischer's side pulled through against the odds. The Foals passed up opportunities to win the game before Union landed the killer blow with four minutes of the game to play. Niko Gießelmann threaded a great pass through the home defence and Kruse rattled past Yann Sommer to bag another three points and keep Union progressing up the league table.
Augsburg – Opposition Report
Augsburg's 5-1 loss at Bayer Leverkusen left the club third-from-bottom in the Bundesliga and five games without a win ahead of the stoppage last week. Markus Weinzierl's team are in desperate need of points to stay clear of Stuttgart and Greuther Fürth in automatic relegation positions – one point ahead of their closest challengers and two off Wolfsburg in safety. But nevertheless, the VVK-Arena has regularly pushed Augsburg to their better performances. Augsburg drew with both Frankfurt and Leipzig, while Bochum managed to squeeze out a 3-2 win on their home turf. On November 19, Augsburg's highlight of the season so far was a 2-1 victory over champions Bayern Munich. Goals from Mads Pedersen and Andre Hahn succumbed Julian Nagelsmann's star-studded team to defeat at one of their local rivals in the German top flight.
Augsburg – The coach's view
Fischer said: "Augsburg are a very active team, I find. They keep trying for the full 90 minutes, to run and to stress. Their game behind the defensive lines is good. They are dangerous wide and have one-v-one players. And their ability to attack the penalty box and get numbers in the box is good. It's a very hard game, we've been warned about that."
Grischa Prömel and Julian Ryerson are currently in quarantine following positive COVID-19 tests this week. Kevin Möhwald has returned to training after quarantine, but "managing the load" is key according to the coach. Andras Schäfer passed his last test today and has trained a bit with the team, so looks like he will continue that tomorrow. Genki Haraguchi returned from international break and has completed full training with the squad. Taiwo Awoniyi is back from AFCON and has trained without any issues.
The home club have made over 300 tickets available for Union supporters. Only seats will be occupied and the match is going ahead under 2G Plus regulations.