In a match originally scheduled for 18. January, 1. FC Union Berlin will face 1. FSV Mainz 05 away from home on Wednesday, 07.02.2024. Kick off at the MEWA ARENA is at 18:30.
The lie of the land
The hosts from the Rheinland-Palatinate sit currently 17th in the table, two places and six points behind Union, having suffered a 1-0 defeat at home to SV Werder Bremen on Saturday. Union, meanwhile, were beaten the next day 2-0 in Leipzig. 1. FC Union Berlin won the last fixture between the sides, 4-1 at the Stadion An der Alten Försterei.
Mainz have only won once so far this season, a 2-0 victory at home to RasenBallsport Leipzig and are level with VfL Bochum as the team with the most draws in the league. With eight of them and nine defeats, coach Jan Siewert's team have eleven points. They have scored 14 goals and conceded 29.
After a run of nine games without a win in the Bundesliga and elimination in the second round of the DFB Pokal against second-division club Hertha BSC (3-0 defeat), Bo Svensson resigned as head coach on November 2, 2023. Siewert initially took over on a temporary basis before signing a contract until 2026 shortly before the winter break. Siewert was no stranger to the Mainz bench, however, having already acted as head coach in January 2021.
Back then, the 41-year-old took over the Bundesliga team on an interim basis following the release of Jan-Moritz Lichte, famously coaching them to a 5-2 defeat against FC Bayern München. Svensson was, however, subsequently hired while Siewert returned to coach FSV's U23s.
Now Siewert has Niko Bungert as his assistant coach at Mainz. The former central defender made 194 appearances in the 05 jersey and was captain from 2016 until the end of his career in 2019.
In the winter transfer window, Mainz secured the services of Nadiem Amiri from Leverkusen and Frankfurt’s Jessic Ngankam on loan to the Rhine. The 22-year-old midfielder Niklas Tauer returned from his loan from FC Schalke 04 but was immediately loaned out to Eintracht Braunschweig.
The head to head
Union have only lost once in the nine Bundesliga matches so far played between the sides. Last season, they drew 0-0 in Mainz and won 2-1 at home. In August at the Stadion An der Alten Försterei, Union fought their way to a 4-1 victory, in which Kevin Behrens scored a brace and Frederik Rönnow saved two penalties.
Captain Christopher Trimmel will have to miss the game due to a suspension. Union will also be without Josip Juranović and Jérôme Roussillon through injury.
The coaches’ views ahead of the game
“The boys know exactly what's at stake and it's our goal to win this game against Mainz," said Union's assistant coach, Marie-Louise Eta, representing suspended head coach, nenad Bjelica,at Tuesday's press conference. "But of course the relegation battle won't end if we pick up three points against Mainz tomorrow. That also takes some of the pressure off the players, because we still have enough chances after this game to get the points we need."
Bjelica’s opposite number, Jan Siewert, meanwhile, had this to say about the fixture: "We can address our game in a more straightforward manner. We have to put Union under pressure straight away. Anyone who felt the energy in the arena at the weekend knows why it's important to have a home game tomorrow. The team can feel that too."
The players will have the support of 1,400 Union fans traveling with them to Mainz. The Fahr-Zeughaus will also be on site. Further information on visiting the stadium can be found here (German).
The match will be broadcast live by DAZN. 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.