On Sunday, 4 February 2024, as part of the Bundesliga’s 20th matchday, 1. FC Union Berlin will face RasenBallsport Leipzig. Kick off at the former Zentralstadion is at 17:30.
The lie of the land
Union travel to Leipzig off the back of a home win when Benedict Hollerbach's decisive goal secured a 1-0 victory over SV Darmstadt last weekend, whereas RasenBallsport were beaten 5-2 at VfB Stuttgart last weekend.
With 33 points from 19 games, the team from the Messestadt are currently fifth in the Bundesliga table. However, with a 19-point gap to league leaders Bayer Leverkusen and 17 to second-placed Bayern, Leipzig are locked in a duel for the UEFA Champions League places with Borussia Dortmund, Stuttgart and Eintracht Frankfurt, who are two points behind the Saxons in sixth place.
Leipzig are without a win in four Bundesliga games, their last three-pointer coming before Christmas when they beat TSG Hoffenheim 3-1 at home and have also failed to keep a clean sheet for ten games in a row.
The 2022 and 2023 DFB Pokal winners will not be able to defend their title again this year, as coach Marco Rose's team were beaten 1-0 by Wolfsburg. In the UEFA Champions League, Leipzig qualified for the round of 16 and will face Union's group opponents Real Madrid.
Eljif Elmas, a new arrival from Naples, joined the club during the winter transfer window, while Emil Forsberg (New York RB) and Timo Werner (Tottenham Hotspur) left the club. It is their Summer arrivals who have made the biggest impact; Loïs Openda and Xavi Simons have been directly involved in 32 of their 42 goals scored. The latter is expected to return to the starting eleven on Sunday following his suspension against VfB Stuttgart.
Union vice-captain Rani Khedira will meet up with old acquaintances on Sunday, having played for RasenBallsport from 2014 to 2017, making a total of 54 appearances. Christopher Lenz also moved to Leipzig in the last summer transfer window. The left-back played for Union between 2016 and 2021, made 72 appearances and was promoted to the Bundesliga with the club in 2019.
The head to head
In the nine Bundesliga encounters between the two teams to date, Union have emerged victorious five times, Leipzig four. There has not yet been a draw. Union have won the last two matches in Leipzig 2-1.
Josip Juranović is unavailable for the match, otherwise all players in the squad are ready for action.
The coaches’ views ahead of the game
"Leipzig are strong opponents with good individual strength,” said Union’s assistant coach, Marie-Louise Eta, during her press conference on Friday afternoon. “They bring a high level of intensity and are dangerous when switching possession both after winning and losing the ball. They've not won in their last four games and people are quick to talk about a crisis at Leipzig. However, they have also played well in recent games and have the class to end a crisis at any time. We're looking forward to the game and will support each other on the pitch, be compact and try to capitalise on the opportunities Leipzig offer us."
Marco Rose, meanwhile, had this to say: "Union are an unpleasant opponent who are difficult to beat. It's important to know what to expect and to be prepared for it. We have to be able to react to their transitional play and defend well against set pieces. We need confidence and conviction in our own game on Sunday. We don't want to be passive, we want to be active and go for a good result here at home with our fans."
The guest block in Leipzig is sold out, so the Union can look forward to loud support from the stands. Fan merchandise can be purchased on site at the Mobile-Zeughaus. Information about visiting the stadium can be found here (German).
The match will be broadcast live on DAZN and there will also be an audio stream on rbb24 Inforadio and rbb24. As usual, Union will also provide information about the match via the club's own live ticker, as well as in English and Spanish on Twitter.