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Feb 28, 2021 at 12.30pm UK at Stadion An der Alten Försterei
Union BerlinUnion Berlin
1-1
HoffenheimHoffenheim
Kruse (9' pen.)
FT(HT: 1-1)
Schlotterbeck (29' og.)
Richards (79'), Vogt (90+4')

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

Sports Mole previews Sunday's Bundesliga clash between Union Berlin and Hoffenheim, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Union Berlin take on Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga on Sunday, with both sides looking to build on morale-boosting victories last weekend.

The home side edged the reverse fixture 3-1 in Hoffenheim in November.


Match preview

Union Berlin coach Urs Fischer reacts in February 2021© Reuters

After picking up only two points from their previous five games, Union Berlin edged a cagey encounter to win 1-0 at Freiburg last weekend to move up to seventh in the table.

Urs Fischer's side made the better start in the game, with Robert Andrich narrowly firing wide from distance in a relatively quiet first half. After the break, Marcus Ingvartsen's lovely cross from the right found Grischa Promel at the back post, with the central midfielder heading home to give the visitors a deserved lead.

Despite being on a superb run of form, Freiburg offered very little throughout the game, struggling to break down Union Berlin's stubborn defence. Fischer's side squandered several opportunities in transition to double their lead, too, with Joel Pohjanpalo particularly profligate, but they comfortably held onto their lead to leapfrog their opponents in the table.

Having only been promoted two seasons ago, finishing in a Europa League qualification position would have been almost unthinkable for Eiserne fans this season. However, with top goalscorer Max Kruse now fit again after recovering from his torn muscle, there is every chance that they could achieve exactly that. Fischer will be urging his players to take one game at a time, though, starting with a very winnable home game against Hoffenheim on Sunday.

Hoffenheim coach Sebastian Hoeness pictured on February 18, 2021© Reuters

Sebastian Hoeness's side certainly have the disadvantage of having had far less rest, having crashed out of the Europa League after a 2-0 defeat at home to Molde on Thursday evening.

In many ways the defeat summed up the unfortunate nature of Hoffenheim's season, with Die Kraichgauer having 27 shots, nine shots on target, 74% possession and 13 corners across the 90 minutes. In contrast, Molde's only two shots on target were Eirik Ulland Andersen's brace.

Perhaps Hoffenheim used up all of their goals in last weekend's 4-0 win over Werder Bremen, which in truth did flatter them a little. Ihlas Bebou opened the scoring with another fine display of composure in front of goal, before Christoph Baumgartner doubled the hosts' lead moments before the break after too easily being allowed to jink his way into the Bremen penalty area and stab the ball home.

Munas Dabbur and 18-year-old debutant Georginio Rutter added gloss to the victory, which took Hoeness's side nine points clear of the relegation zone. While their fans will understandably be distraught at exiting the club's first ever European knockout stage at the first hurdle, at least they should be able to breathe easily regarding their Bundesliga status after what has been a testing campaign.

Union Berlin Bundesliga form: LLDLDW

Hoffenheim Bundesliga form: WWLLDW
Hoffenheim form (all competitions): LLDDWL


Team News

Union Berlin's Max Kruse celebrates scoring their second goal with teammates on November 22, 2020© Reuters

Fischer will be delighted to have Kruse available once again, although the attacking midfielder was not used from the bench during the win over Freiburg, so may need to be eased into things before he is named in the first XI.

Liverpool loanee Taiwo Awoniyi and Sheraldo Becker are both ruled out through injury, leaving the hosts a little light in attack, with Niko Giesselmann and Anthony Ujah both remaining on the treatment table, too.

Hoffenheim's injury crisis, meanwhile, shows little sign of easing, with Ishak Belfodil, Kostas Stafylidis, Mijat Gacinovic, Stefan Posch, Robert Skov, Havard Nordtveit, Kevin Akpoguma, Dennis Geiger, Ermin Bicakcic and Benjamin Hubner all likely to be ruled out of the trip to Berlin.

Andrej Kramaric is available once again, though, and could be set to start after twice gaining important match fitness from the bench within the past week.

Union Berlin possible starting lineup:
Karius; Friedrich, Knoche, Schlotterbeck; Trimmel, Promel, Andrich, Ingvartsen, Lenz; Bulter, Pohjanpalo

Hoffenheim possible starting lineup:
Baumann; Kasim, Grillitsch, Richards; Kaderabek, Rudy, Samassekou, John; Baumgartner; Kramaric, Bebou


SM words green background

We say: Union Berlin 1-1 Hoffenheim

Much will hinge on whether Kruse and Kramaric start for their respective sides, with both players capable of making a huge impact with their goals and creativity.

Hoffenheim do tend to prefer playing away from home, so we can envisage them gaining a positive result on Sunday.



Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting a double chance bet on a home win or an away win 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.Home/Away:data


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Jadon Sancho in action for Borussia Dortmund on February 2, 2021
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Bayern MunichBayern28205380364465
2RB Leipzig29187452232961
3Wolfsburg28159449262354
4Eintracht FrankfurtFrankfurt281411359401953
5Borussia DortmundDortmund281441058411746
6Bayer LeverkusenB. Leverkusen28128845321344
7Union BerlinUnion Berlin2891364234840
8Borussia MonchengladbachBorussia M'bach28101084843540
9Stuttgart2810995044639
10Freiburg28107114042-237
11Hoffenheim2988134147-632
12Augsburg2895142942-1332
13Werder Bremen2879123243-1130
14Mainz 052877143048-1828
15Hertha Berlin2868143448-1426
16Arminia Bielefeld2875162246-2426
17FC Koln2858152750-2323
18Schalke 04Schalke2827191871-5313

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