1. FC Union Berlin's first group stage match in the UEFA Europa Conference League will take Urs Fischer's side to the Czech champions Slavia Prague on Thursday at 18:45 CEST.
Review: The last match
Union added another point to the tally for the season at home to Augsburg and maintained the unbeaten start to the Bundesliga campaign. Urs Fischer's side created opportunities to take maximum points with three strikes against the woodwork, while Rafal Gikiewicz was in fine form against his former club. In the early stages, Niko Gießelmann headed straight at the Augsburg goalkeeper and clipped the post with a powerful long-range strike. While Union's former promotion-winning goalkeeper was impressive at one end, the Köpenick club had Andreas Luthe to thank at the other side. Luthe was named in the Team of the Week for the Bundesliga this weekend after making a string of important stops. Luthe's most impressive intervention was an incredible reflex save to stop Sergio Cordova from sending Augsburg into the lead. Marvin Friedrich headed off the crossbar in the second half as Union piled on the pressure while Andreas Voglsammer was denied by Gikiewicz and struck himself off the woodwork.
Slavia Prague: Opposition Report
Slavia Prague have won the Czech league championship for the past three seasons. Under the stewardship of coach Jindrich Trpisovsky, Slavia have won three titles and three cups, while making impressive gains in European competition. One campaign in the UEFA Champions League sits between two seasons with appearances in the groups of the UEFA Europa League. Last season, Slavia progressed into the knockout stages from a group featuring Bayer Leverkusen, OGC Nice and Hapoel Be'er Sheva. Slavia beat Leicester and Rangers before going out in the last eight to Arsenal.
As league champions, Slavia were aiming to return to the UEFA Champions League this term but the Czechs have suffered some knocks along the way. In the qualifiers for Europe's premier club tournament, Ferencvaros ran out winners over two legs. After dropping down to the UEFA Europa League qualifiers, Slavia were beaten by Polish heavyweights Legia Warsaw. They will have a third opportunity at group stage European football when they join Union, Feyenoord and Maccabi Haifa in the newly-founded UEFA Europa Conference League.
Slavia are third in their domestic league, collecting 16 points from a possible 18. With one game less played, they trail Viktoria Plzen and Sparta Prague after six matches. At the start of October, Slavia and Sparta will go head-to-head in a crucial league derby for both teams.
Slavia Prague: The coach's view
Urs Fischer said: "We're now in the group stages and we will enjoy the games. The first challenge though is Slavia and we will be thinking from game to game. Of course, I'm looking forward to the matches. Slavia are a team that create chances and they had enough chances against Ferencvaros and Legia to win those matches. They lacked a bit of efficiency in those matches. They have pace and individual quality to decide games. This will be an interesting challenge for us. For Slavia, the whole team is keen to play. It starts from the defenders and finishes at the strikers. Stanciu is the most creative player, while Traore is reliable for bringing the balance. He's very important. Plavsic and Ekpal also are dangerous on the wings."
Kevin Möhwald made his 1. FC Union Berlin debut on Saturday, but suffered a knock and had to be substituted in the 22nd minute. The midfielder is still recovering, but encouragingly could be available for Sunday's Bundesliga match at Borussia Dortmund. Fischer said the entire European squad was nearly fully-fit for Thursday's game with Grischa Prömel making his first steps in action in the draw at home to Augsburg.
At the Sinobo Stadium/Eden Arena, it is important to have the Print@Home ticket in paper form. A digital copy or confirmation will not get you access to the ground. All fans in attendance must have proof of vaccination or a negative test (PCR, 72h until end of the game) in QR Form.
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