1. FC Union Berlin's 2020/21 season kicks off formally this weekend with a first-round clash in the DFB Pokal against Karlsruher SC on Saturday at 18:30.
Urs Fischer's team will look to better their 2019/20 Cup run, which saw the Köpenick club reach the last eight of the competition for the first time in 19 years.
"I hope we're well-prepared. I believe we've trained for that for seven weeks and certainly to be ready. It's a difficult challenge, you can say that, against a good, compact, well-organised team who are very committed," said head coach Fischer. "I don't speak to the players about who takes the role of favourites; only about how the challenge looks. It's the first competitive game and nobody knows where they stand yet. We need to show until the final whistle that we can overcome the challenge in front of us."
1. FC Union Berlin's final pre-season game was held at the Stadion An der Alten Försterei in front of 4,500 supporters — the first home match with a crowd in 189 days. It was also the traditional IFA-sponsored friendly, which normally attracts a host of famous international names. This year, however, was a special occasion as 1. FC Nürnberg travelled to Köpenick to mark a century of football at our home ground. Goals from Marcus Ingvartsen edged out the 2.Bundesliga side, who equalised through substitute Nikola Dovedan.
Christian Eichner has replaced Alois Schwartz in the technical area at Karlsruhe who finished last season in 15th. The 2.Bundesliga club managed to avoid the dreaded relegation play-off having a better goal difference than 1. FC Nürnberg by a margin of two. German Cup winners in 1955 and 1956, Karlsuhe got through to the last 16 of the competition in 2019/20 with victories over Hannover and Darmstadt. Schwartz's side, however, came up short thereafter and went out to fourth-tier 1. FC Saarbrücken on penalties.
Ahead of their second season in a row in the 2.Bundesliga following promotion in 2018/19, Eichner has looked to add to his squad with Markus Kuster from Mattersburg, Robin Bormuth from Fortuna Düsseldorf and Benjamin Goller arriving from Werder Bremen. Replacing Damian Roßbach, who joined Hansa Rostock, is Philipp Heise who joins on loan from Norwich City. Midfielder Jerome Gondorf has turned a loan switch into a permanent transfer this summer.
Urs Fischer gave an overview of the fitness of his players at the pre-match press conference on Thursday at the Stadion An der Alten Försterei. Max Kruse won't travel as he builds up towards fitness, while Lennart Moser has trained on his own this week. Keita Endo and Anthony Ujah are injured and Christopher Lenz is suspended after his red card in the quarter-final defeat to Bayer Leverkusen. Union's national team players have returned at different points in this week, but that group and Robert Andrich should be involved in the final team session before the journey.
In accordance with the regulations in Baden-Wüttermberg, there is an upper-limit on major events for 500 attendees. There will be around 450 home supporters at the Wildparkstadion, including 150 for VIP.