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Union Berlin travel to direct rivals Mainz

Next Bundesliga challenge:

Thu, 04. February 2021
Union Berlin travel to direct rivals Mainz

1. FC Union Berlin take on Mainz on Saturday at 15:30 with the Köpenick club out to get another three points closer to the season objectives of survival in the Bundesliga.

Review

1. FC Union Berlin battled to a strong point at home to Borussia Mönchengladbach on Saturday. Marco Rose's team have defeated Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga this season, while setting up a Champions League clash with Manchester City this month. The Foals demonstrated that quality at the Alte Försterei but Union's organisation and determination proved a worthwhile match. Robin Knoche scored his first goal of the season on 31 minutes, heading Marcus Ingvartsen's free-kick past the Gladbach goalkeeper Yann Sommer. Perhaps the hosts could have taken advantage of other half-chances in the game, but a moment of quality cut Union open early in the second half. Alassane Plea found a yard of space at the edge of the box and perfectly placed a shot past Andreas Luthe, who would later be substituted after a collision with Marcus Thuram. Loris Karius held the position between the sticks for the last 25 minutes, and there was positive news for the Union coach who was able to utilise Joel Pohjanpalo from the bench after his recovery from injury.

Opposition

Mainz are under new management following a difficult first half of the Bundesliga campaign. Former player Bo Svensson has come in from Red Bull and is looking to bridge a seven-point gap to safety in the Rückrunde. Mainz are four points better off than Schalke, but will need to get points quickly to get closer to Hertha, Bielefeld and 1. FC Köln. The Carnival Club have come out of a run of fixtures against some of the strongest teams in the Bundesliga – and have reasons to be positive. Eintracht Frankfurt won via two penalties for Andre Silva, while Mainz improved against Wolfsburg and last time out in Stuttgart. In Dortmund, Svensson's group fought to earn a point with Levin Öztunali scoring for the Reds. Everything came together for Mainz at the OPEL-Arena a fortnight ago when Leipzig were beaten by three goals to two. Moussa Niakhate equalised twice for Mainz, cancelling out goals from Tyler Adams and Marcel Halstenberg. As Mainz grew in confidence, Julian Nagelsmann's side were left stunned as Leandro Barreiro Martins shot home after 50 minutes to secure a vital three points for the home side.

Personnel

Urs Fischer confirmed the availability of Petar Musa, who put pen-to-paper this week on a loan transfer from Slavia Prague. The striker has permission from the relevant health authorities to travel for the game and train with the squad. Fischer's injury issues remain the same as last week with Anthony Ujah, Max Kruse, Sheraldo Becker and Grischa Prömel are missing. The latter duo have fatigue and aren't back at full fitness at the moment. Christopher Lenz is a serious doubt due to muscle issues after he missed the draw at home to Borussia Mönchengladbach a week ago.

Service

Saturday's game at the OPEL-Arena will take place behind closed doors.