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Preview: Mainz 05 vs. Union Berlin - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Friday's Bundesliga clash between Mainz 05 and Union Berlin, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Since this article was published, this match has been postponed due to a frozen pitch.

Mainz 05 host Union Berlin to kick off the Bundesliga weekend with a huge clash near the bottom on Friday.

In a meeting between 16th and 15th, a draw would not do either side much good, but a win would be priceless given how tight it has become at the foot of the Bundesliga standings.

Match preview

Mainz 05's Robin Zentner speaks to referee Matthias Jollenbeck on November 1, 2023© Reuters

Mainz come into this fixture only outside of the automatic relegation places on goal difference after extending their winless run to seven by drawing 1-1 with Wolfsburg on their return from the winter break.

Having still only won one game all season - 2-0 at home to RB Leipzig in early November - Mainz needed a second-half equaliser from Silvan Widmer to ensure they did not start 2024 with a defeat.

Failing to beat both Koln and Darmstadt below them during their current winless run has been costly, as it saw them squander the chance to move clear of the bottom two.

It leaves their 15-year stay in the top flight under threat, especially with their incapabilities of winning matches.

A feeble attack has been largely to blame for that, as only Koln have scored fewer than their 14 goals in 17 games so far.

Union Berlin are not the ideal opponents for Jan Siewert's side to face next either, despite their struggles, as they have won just one of the previous nine meetings.

The visitors also bring solid form into the fixture after a woeful start ultimately saw the reign of the legendary Urs Fischer come to an end, as Union went on their worst run of results as a professional club.

FC Union Berlin players celebrate after Kevin Volland scores their first goal on December 12, 2023© Reuters

Nenad Bjelica has come in, and within four games has already matched the amount of points they won in their opening 12 games of the season.

Beating relegation rivals Koln shortly before the winter break felt like a pivotal moment, as it moved Union out of the relegation zone for the first time in three months, and they returned by holding a strong Freiburg side to a 0-0 draw away from home last weekend.

While that ended a six-game losing run on the road in the Bundesliga, it was their ninth blank of the season in just 16 games - an unwanted league-high, despite playing a game fewer than the rest.

Bjelica will look to make strides in improving their away form, as they have won just one in 14, and that came against bottom-placed Darmstadt back in August.

Even more so because a win here would be hugely important for the visitors, as it would momentarily take them above Bochum, and potentially six points clear of trouble.

Mainz 05 Bundesliga form:

Mainz 05 form (all competitions):

Union Berlin Bundesliga form:

Union Berlin form (all competitions):

Team News

Union Berlin's Mikkel Kaufmann celebrates scoring their third goal with Jerome Roussillon on December 9, 2023© Reuters

Mainz will be without South Korean international Jae-sung Lee for the next few weeks, as he is on duty at the Asian Cup with his country.

Stefan Bell could return after missing the draw against Wolfsburg with a virus, but teenager Nelson Weiper remains out after knee surgery back in September.

Kevin Behrens scored a hat-trick when Union beat Mainz 4-1 on the opening day, but he lost his place in the side on their return to action.

With Sheraldo Becker injured, and David Datro Fofana departing the club, Mikkel Kaufmann made his first start for Union since joining from Copenhagen in the summer ahead of Behrens.

Union are missing two key midfielders for the foreseeable future though, with Rani Khedira injured, and Aissa Laidouni at the Africa Cup of Nations with Tunisia.

After Leonardo Bonucci left for Fenerbahce following a very unsuccessful half-season at the club, Kevin Vogt has arrived from Hoffenheim to fill the gap, and he made his debut against Freiburg last week.

Mainz 05 possible starting lineup:
Zentner; Van den Berg, Kohr, Caci; Widmer, Papella, Kruass, Mwene; Fernandes, Onisiwo, Burkardt

Union Berlin possible starting lineup:
Ronnow; Knoche, Vogt, Diogo Leite; Juranovic, Kral, Aaronson, Gosens; Haberer, Kaufmann, Volland

SM words green background

We say: Mainz 05 0-1 Union Berlin

Goals have not been the strength of either side, but Bjelica has shored up the Union backline since coming in as manager, and they may just have the individual quality to snatch a win here.

With just one win in 17 games so far this season, Mainz could really do with another one against one of their closest rivals, but they have done little in the past couple of months to suggest they can lift themselves away from trouble.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at are predicting under 2.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 2.5:data

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Tables header RHS
CBayer LeverkusenB. Leverkusen34286089246590
3Bayern MunichBayern34233894454972
4RB Leipzig34198777393865
5Borussia DortmundDortmund34189768432563
6Eintracht FrankfurtFrankfurt34111495150147
9Werder Bremen34119144854-642
13Mainz 05Mainz34714133951-1235
14Borussia MonchengladbachBorussia M'bach34713145667-1134
15Union BerlinUnion Berlin3496193358-2533
16VfL BochumVfL Bochum34712154274-3233
RFC Koln34512172860-3227
RSV Darmstadt 98Darmstadt3438233086-5617

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