1. FC Union Berlin are back at the Stadion An der Alten Försterei this Saturday, facing bottom-placed Schalke in the Bundesliga as Urs Fischer's team look to end a four-game winless streak.
1. FC Union Berlin's run without a victory stretched to four games with a 0-1 defeat away to relegation-battlers Mainz. Moussa Niakhate scored from the penalty spot midway through the first half following a tackle by Nico Schlotterbeck on Karim Onisiwo. Andreas Luthe was beaten and Bo Svensson's team held on to take all three points. After a home point against Borussia Mönchengladbach a week earlier, Union struggled to get into a rhythm, disrupted by Mainz's pressing and direct play. New signing Petar Musa made his Bundesliga debut for the club, coming off the bench alongside Joel Pohjanpalo. Union's potential fight back was dealt a blow late on when Schlotterbeck was shown a second yellow card by referee Sascha Steegeman.
Christian Gross took the reigns at the Veltins Arena at the end of December, inheriting a club which is currently nine points away from the relegation play-off place. Schalke have won one game since January 2020 - a 4-0 victory over Hoffenheim with a stunning hat-trick for 19-year-old American striker Matthew Hoppe. The Royal Blues will head to Köpenick under extreme pressure to pick up points, but according to Urs Fischer, Union will need to wary of a team which has "stabilised" under new management. Schalke went out of the German Cup last week after a good performance in Wolfsburg, while Gross' side were unfortunate not to take something against RB Leipzig in the Bundesliga.
Urs Fischer's selections issues have eased in recent weeks - Anthony Ujah is recovering from his operation and Max Kruse is still building up fitness but could be available for next week's game in Freiburg. Nico Schlotterbeck is suspended following his two yellow cards in Mainz a week ago, while Sheraldo Becker is still struggling. Andreas Luthe is unavailable for selection due to personal reasons. Christopher Lenz's muscle issues haven't cleared up yet and he will be out of the squad for another week. The good news is the slow return of Grischa Prömel who has trained alone with Christian Gentner and taken part in some parts of team training. Both are expected to complete team training tomorrow and a decision will be made on their availability.
Saturday's 18:30 kick-off will take place behind closed doors.