1. FC Union Berlin will return to league action for 2019 on Thursday January 31, meeting second-place 1. FC Köln at a sold-out Stadion An der Alten Försterei in Köpenick.
Urs Fischer’s side are currently fourth in the table, three points behind FC St. Pauli who are our next opponents in the 2.Bundesliga on Monday evening at the Millerntor-Stadion.
Review: Union strong against Basel, Köln beat Bochum
Sebastian Polter and Grischa Prömel scored as Union Berlin rounded off the winter break with a credible 2-2 draw at home to FC Basel. The training camp in Jerez saw mixed results — a win over Shenzehn, a draw with Lausanne and defeat to Unterhaching. Nevertheless, Fischer was content by what he witnessed in the training sessions. “The preparation time wasn’t that long, but despite that, you are happy it’s competitive football again. When I look back on the preparation, I’m largely satisfied. We were able to train very well, work well on certain things and have, so to speak, no injured players. For the game on Thursday, everyone was able to train today. The question comes again and again: where do you stand now? We'll see,” said the coach at the pre-match press conference.
Markus Anfang’s team have prepared for this week by defeating VfL Bochum 2-1 at the Franz-Kramer-Stadion. Goals from Jhon Cordoba dispatched the second-tier side who beat Köln on their own patch before the winter shutdown. The Billy Goats spent nine days in Mallorca for their warm weather training camp and had differing results in their two warm-up games. Köln were defeated by the locals Mallorca but a few days earlier, saw off FC Groningen 3-1 — the goals against the Dutch outfit came from Dominick Drexler, Cordoba and Christian Clemens.
Record: Home win against Köln in 2012
Köln hold the upper-hand in previous meetings against Union Berlin. At the Stadion An der Alten Försterei, the Billy Goats have lost one out of seven fixtures. That defeat, in 2012, was a memorable victory for Union with Torsten Mattuschka scoring a second-half winner to secure three points under the lights. The last meeting between the sides was a 1-1 draw in Müngersorf in August. Sebastian Andersson continued a great run of form in the opening phase of the season to equalise in the second half and bag the Köpenick club a point.
Personnel: No injuries from winter training camp
Union head into the game with generally fit squad to pick from following Saturday’s friendly. Nicolai Rapp and Joshua Mees trained on Tuesday and both are “on a good way” according to Fischer, although it will be a close call in 48 hours’ time. Marc Torrejon and Fabian Schönheim got minutes under their belt against Basel but will need more time before reaching full fitness.
The Stadion An der Alten Försterei is completely sold out for Thursday evening’s match.