In their penultimate away match of the 2022/23 season, 1. FC Union Berlin will face FC Augsburg on 06.05.2023. It should be a tough duel, with the hosts needing points to stay in the league and Union wanting points for Europe. The match will kick off at 15:30 in the WWK Arena.
The lie of the land
At first glance, Augsburg’s 13th place looks like a safe haven. This season, however, things are much tighter down near the basement than they were a year ago. At the same time last year, 13th-placed VfL Wolfsburg already had an eight-point lead over 17th-placed Bielefeld. FCA, on the other hand, currently have just a four-point buffer on second-last-placed Schalke 04, so every point is still vital for Augsburg over their remaining four games.
This is, of course, also the case for Union, but their prize on offer is somewhat more attractive. With a point, they will take another step towards Europe. Yet, should they win against a notoriously difficult Augsburg, they will have achieved their goal for the season, namely qualification for European football for the third season in a row. The last three games would then only decide in which competition Union will compete in in 2022/23.
FCA's game is clearly about intensity. Despite being only 8th in the table for fouls committed, Augsburg are an impressive first when it come to yellow cards. So when they go, they really go.
In terms of playing style, FCA clearly differ from Union, preferring to play through the middle, and with only eight crosses per game. By comparison, Union have hit the third most crosses in the league so far this season with 346.
FCA head coach Enrico Maaßen, who switched from Dortmund's U23 side at the start of the season, has mostly relied on a 4-4-2, anchored by two holding midfielders. At the beginning of the season, however, they also liked to play with a three-man defence. So there is flexibility for the Swabians at the back.
The head to head
Union have traditionally had a hard time against Augsburg, especially so away in the WWK Arena where they have never won. Indeed, in eleven encounters in the first and second divisions, Union have only beaten them once and shared the points four times. That lone victory was almost three and a half years ago, when they won 2-1 at the Alte Försterei with goals from Marcus Ingvartsen and Neven Subotic.
With the exception of Diogo Leite, who is suspended after his fifth yellow card, Union head coach Urs Fischer has the entire squad at his disposal.
For one Unioner saturday will mark a special occasion in more than one way. Should he play, the game will mark Rani Khedira's 200th Bundesliga appearance, and it's fitting that it should be against a team he made 127 appearances for, and for whom he established himself as a leading midfield light in the league for.
The coaches views ahead of the game
"We have always had a hard time against FCA so far,” said Urs Fischer on Thursday afternoon about his tricky opponents. “Augsburg have a compact and well-organised team, they play very physically and aggressively. They also like to push up and try to put their opponents under pressure. It will be a tough task, once again."
Meanwhile Enrico Maaßen threw Fischer’s sentiments back at him, saying, “Union are also a difficult team to play against. They rely on their compactness, are good on second balls and at set-pieces. That is their strength! I don't think they will change much. But it's very difficult to play against them."
Service info: Augsburg Calling - Programme by fans for fans
A good 2,700 Unioners will be making their way to Bavaria on Saturday. The Ticket office will be open from 13:30 for any fans who want to get tickets for Block X on the gate.
Regio Augsburg Tourismus GmbH, in cooperation with FC Augsburg and the City of Augsburg, have planned a varied programme for FCA fans as well as Unioners from Friday afternoon to Sunday morning under the motto "Augsburg Calling". From stadium and city tours for young and old to a pub evening with a concert and a Weißwurst breakfast, there is plenty on offer. Information on this and other important travel details can be found here (German).
The match will be broadcast live on Sky. As usual, Union will also provide information on the match in the club's own live ticker, as well as in English on twitter. In addition, there will be an audio stream on rbb24 Inforadio and on rbb24.de.