1. FC Union Berlin will restart the Bundesliga campaign on Saturday afternoon with a trip to Bayer Leverkusen on the cards for Urs Fischer's men.
Review – The last match:
1. FC Union Berlin ended 2021 on another successful note with a 1-0 win at VfL Bochum. Max Kruse's 16th-minute strike on his weaker foot put the game to bed despite the best efforts of the newly-promoted team. Goalkeeper Andreas Luthe was back at his old stomping ground at the Ruhrstadion but he was focused on the task ahead with important saves. Bochum piled on the pressure in the second half with Pantovic missing from close range on 59 minutes. The former Bayern youngster hit the crossbar with about 10 minutes to go as the visitors from Köpenick walked away with all three points.
Leverkusen – Opposition Report:
Bayer Leverkusen sit fourth in the Bundesliga and will be happy with the progress under coach Gerardo Seoane, who was appointed in the summer. After winning 7-1 at home to Greuther Fürth, Leverkusen went through a slippy patch until the winter break. Leverkusen were buried 5-2 at Eintracht Frankfurt before drawing 2-2 at Hoffenheim and losing 2-1 at Freiburg. Seoane's home record overall is strong with three defeats across the Hinrunde – losing to Wolfsburg, Dortmund and Bayern Munich.
Leverkusen – The coach's view:
"This is a difficult game to start the second half of the season. Leverkusen have a very good team with individual quality. You can clearly see the handwriting of the new coach - they act aggressively in Zone 2 and are very dangerous in the transition game," said Fischer.
Fischer confirmed the absences of Sheraldo Becker and Pawel Wszolek, with both players testing positive for COVID-19 and going immediately into isolation. Laurenz Dehl is working back in rehab and is "doing well" according to the Union head coach. Taiwo Awoniyi has joined up with Nigeria's national team at the African Cup of Nations, while Keita Endo picked up a knock in training.
Since December 28, matches in Nordrhein-Westfalen have been held behind closed doors.