MX23RW : Saturday, January 16 12:45:51| >> :600:259575:259575:
Jan 15, 2021 at 7.30pm UK at Stadion An der Alten Försterei
Union BerlinUnion Berlin
1-0
B. LeverkusenBayer Leverkusen
Teuchert (88')
Friedrich (52')
FT(HT: 0-0)

Tah (43'), Amiri (90')

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

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

Union Berlin take on Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga on Friday with the two sides separated by four points in the table.

Union Berlin have performed far above expectations this season to occupy fifth place, with Leverkusen dropping to third in recent weeks after failing to win their last three league matches.


Match preview

Union Berlin coach Urs Fischer reacts on January 9, 2021© Reuters

Having competed in the Bundesliga for the first time in the club's history last season, few people could have expected Union Berlin to have their sights set on a Champions League qualification spot this far into their second ever campaign at Germany's top level.

While a top-four place undoubtedly remains a long shot, everyone at Union Berlin may be dreaming of just that after amassing 25 points from the opening 15 games of the 2020-21 campaign. What has made their recent run all the more impressive is that they have remained unbeaten without their top goalscorer and talismanic figure Max Kruse in the last five league games.

However, there would have been a degree of disappointment in only securing a 2-2 draw at home against Wolfsburg on Saturday after the visitors were reduced to 10 men with 40 minutes of normal time remaining. Renato Steffen fired the Wolves into an early lead with a header which Andreas Luthe may have been disappointed not to keep out, with Sheraldo Becker levelling proceedings with a powerful strike to redeem himself after missing an open goal in the early exchanges.

The game was there for the taking for Union Berlin, though, after Maximilian Arnold's professional foul on Liverpool loanee Taiwo Awoniyi allowed Robert Andrich to score for the fourth home game running from the resulting free kick and provide his side with a one-goal and one-man advantage.

However, Wout Weghorst salvaged a hugely creditable point for his side from the penalty spot after Marcus Ingvarsten was adjudged to have handled the ball, with Fischer's side squandering the opportunity to move clear of Wolfsburg on points and move a step closer to the top four. A win against Leverkusen on Friday night would be the fastest route to overcoming the bitter taste left in their mouth from last weekend.

Bayer Leverkusen's Kerem Demirbay reacts on January 9, 2021© Reuters

Leverkusen will certainly be more nervous about their trip to Berlin now than they would have been prior to the winter break, with Peter Bosz's side dropping eight points in their last three games.

Having narrowly lost to Bayern Munich and Eintracht Frankfurt, last weekend's home game against a Werder Bremen side without a league win since September represented an almost perfect opportunity for Bosz's side to get their season back on track.

However, Leverkusen produced an extremely flat performance, with their former defender Omar Toprak punishing them early in the second half with a close-range finish from an in-swinging free kick. Patrik Schick managed to bundle the ball home to level proceedings with 20 minutes remaining, but his side never came close to finding a winning breakthrough with the game finishing 1-1.

Die Werkself must perform much better if they are to stand much chance of beating an in-form Union Berlin side, and subsequently keeping themselves in a title picture which could be more realistic for Bayern's challengers this season given the Bavarians' struggles of late.

Union Berlin Bundesliga form: LDDWWD
Union Berlin form (all competitions): DDWLWD

Bayer Leverkusen Bundesliga form: WWWLLD
Bayer Leverkusen form (all competitions): WWWLLW


Team News

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

Union Berlin will be without Nico Schlotterbeck, Anthony Ujah, Christian Gentner, Joel Pohjanpalo and Kruse through injury for the visit of Leverkusen.

Grischa Promel is likely to return to the starting XI having missed the draw with Wolfsburg after picking up his fifth booking of the season, with Christopher Trimmel one caution away from a one-match ban himself.

Leverkusen, meanwhile, continue to be without the services of long-term absentees Paulinho, Santiago Arias and Exequiel Palacios.

The trip to Berlin is likely to come too soon for Karim Bellarabi, Mitchell Weiser and Sven Bender, too, but Sven's brother Lars did appear from the bench in the draw with Bremen, so he is likely to return to the starting XI at right-back.

Union Berlin possible starting lineup:
Luthe; Friedrich, Knoche, Hubner; Trimmel, Promel, Andrich, Ingvarsten, Lenz; Becker, Awoniyi

Bayer Leverkusen possible starting lineup:
Hradecky; L.Bender, Tah, Tapsoba, Sinkgraven; Wirtz, Baumgartlinger, Amiri; Bailey, Schick, Diaby


SM words green background

We say: Union Berlin 1-1 Bayer Leverkusen

We can envisage a second successive draw for both teams, which would be unlikely to disappoint either manager given the defensive solidity and offensive threat both teams offer at their best.

Bosz is unlikely to open his side up too much given the counter-attacking threat of Becker and Awoniyi, but will still be keen to help create as many chances for the in-form Schick as possible.


Top betting tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting a double chance bet on a draw 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.Draw/Away:data


ID:430350:cQx

How you voted: Union Berlin vs B. Leverkusen

Union Berlin
27.4%
Draw
23.2%
Bayer Leverkusen
49.4%
237
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Loris Karius in action for Union Berlin on December 22, 2020
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Packers
Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Bayern MunichBayern15103246242233
2RB Leipzig1594226121431
3Bayer LeverkusenB. Leverkusen1685330161429
4Union BerlinUnion Berlin1677232201228
5Borussia DortmundDortmund1591531191228
6Wolfsburg156722217525
7Borussia MonchengladbachBorussia M'bach156632824424
8Freiburg156542824423
9Eintracht FrankfurtFrankfurt155822523223
10Stuttgart155643022821
11Augsburg155461723-619
12Hertha Berlin154472325-216
13Werder Bremen153661724-715
14Hoffenheim154382230-815
15Arminia Bielefeld1541101024-1413
16FC Koln152581327-1411
17Schalke 04Schalke1514101239-277
18Mainz 051513111433-196

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