Next Sunday, 24 September 2023, the professional women's team of 1. FC Union Berlin will face FC Carl Zeiss Jena II in the 5th game of the Regionalliga Nordost season. Kick off between the top two teams in the table, on the artificial pitch of the Uni-Sportzentrum in Jena, is at 14:00.
That this coming Sunday's match will be between the only two unbeaten teams in the Regionalliga Nordost was not necessarily to be expected before the season. While Union have great ambitions, FC Carl Zeiss Jena II have been more of a mid-table team in the league in recent years, finishing sixth in last two seasons.
This season, however, the Jena U21 team, playing in the Regionalliga Nordost since 2020 following the merger with FF USV Jena, have been in outstanding form so far, second in the table with ten points and are currently Union's closest rivals. The 3-1 victory over last year's third-placed team Türkiyemspor Berlin on Matchday 3 sent a particularly clear signal to the competition, though last weekend, the Blue and Yellows drew 1-1 with Bischofswerdaer FV, the first match that Jena failed to win this season.
Christian Kucharz returned to the sidelines as coach in the summer. The 43-year-old had left the team in February after 14 years as head coach of the FF USV Jena and FC Carl Zeiss Jena U21s. However, his services were needed last season as interim coach of the first women's team, who were in a relegation spot in the 2. Bundesliga at the time. In the end, Kucharz led the team superbly to safety, and returned to his spot in charge of the U21s.
The head to head
The first game between the sides last season was undoubtedly a highlight for Union, even though the result didn't go the way they might have hoped. The 3-3 draw was played out in front of 1300 spectators in the Stadion An der Alten Försterei. In the return match in Thuringen, Union took revenge with an impressive 5-0 victory. That win was actually their first against FC Carl Zeiss Jena II, having drawn both games previous since the 2020 merger.
Union have however played their predecessor club FF USV Jena II 14 times, winning seven, losing five and drawing twice.
Head coach Ailien Poese will be without five players due to injury, Luca Scheel, Elisa Schindler, Pauline Wimmer, Marie Becker and Anna Weiß. Athanasia Moraitou will also be absent due to her international trip with the Greek national team.
The coaches' view ahead of the match
"We are looking forward to the next big match," said Union's head coach, Ailien Poese during the week. "Their good start has certainly been no coincidence. They have structure and a lot of will, so we will be very attentive, but still we need to raise our game. We are happy for everyone that will be supporting us on Sunday and travel to Jena with anticipation."
The match will kick off on Sunday at 14:00 on the artificial turf pitch of the Uni-Sportzentrum (Oberaue 1, 07745 Jena). Admission is free.