Professionals | 29/01/2019

19th Matchday

Preview ahead of the trip to Union

On Thursday evening, 1. FC Köln take on 1. FC Union Berlin in the first competitive game of 2019. With both teams firmly in the promotion picture, it’s a huge game to start the new year.

1. FC Köln make the long trip to the capital to take on 1. FC Union Berlin, in what is huge clash for the two teams. Having both missed the chance to capitalise on Hamburger SV’s loss on the final matchday of 2018, there is a lot riding on a game that pits two of the top teams in the division against one another. They were well matched on Matchday 2 this season, having drawn 1:1 at the RheinEnergieSTADION.

Form check

1. FC Union Berlin: Union picked up their first and only loss of the 2. Bundesliga season to date on the final matchday before the Winter Break. That 3:0 defeat to Erzgebirge Aue was the only setback that Urs Fischer’s men have suffered thus far. During their preparation for 2019, Union failed to pick up a win. They fell to a 1:2 defeat against SpVgg Unterhaching, before drawing with FC Lusanne-Sport (0:0) and FC Basel (2:2).

1. FC Köln: Much like Union, a defeat before Christmas somewhat put a dampener on what had been an excellent run of form. That came against VfL Bochum, but FC managed to avenge said defeat in the final Winter Break friendly (2:1). Markus Anfang’s men also picked up a 3:1 win against FC Groningen, and lost narrowly to RCD Mallorca (0:1). FC currently sit five points clear of Union.

The coaches have had their say

Urs Fischer: “The preparation time wasn’t that long. But despite that, great that it’s a competitive game again. When I look back at the winter break, I can be pretty happy. We worked on certain things. No injured players. Where do we stand? We’ll see.”

Markus Anfang: “Union are a very stable team, they've shown that in the Hinrunde. They're compact and disciplined against the ball, we know that from the home game. But we have to concentrate on ourselves. If we win our games then things will take care of themselves. Every game is important for us. We need to be highly concentrated throughout games and maintain our level.”

Injury updates

1. FC Union Berlin: While Urs Fischer gave out that Union have a fully fit squad for the game on Thursday, he did raise questions over the fitness of Joshua Mees and new signing, Nicolai Rapp. He admitted that it will be a close call for both.

1. FC Köln: Markus Anfang confirmed that the game will come too soon for Marco Höger, Matthias Lehmann, Louis Schaub, Noah Katterbach and Vincent Koziello (below). Lasse Sobiech and Rafael Czichos are both back in the squad, while Dominick Drexler was fit to travel after his illness. Serhou Guirassy has been given permission to conduct negotiations other clubs.

Statistics

  • The draw on Matchday 2 was the first draw involving the teams in the seven times that they’ve met. Union have only won once in that time, with FC claiming victory on five occasions.
  • This is Union’s joint-best start to a 2. Bundesliga season. Their 31 points from 18 games matches the totals from 2011-12 and 2016-17.
  • Union have the best defence in 2. Bundesliga, having conceded 15 goals in the 18 matches thus far. Rafael Gikiewicz has also managed to score a goal for himself, with a last minute equaliser against Heidenheim.

Who is the opposition dangerman?

Sebastian Polter’s return from injury made him feel like a new signing to Union. His 14-minute cameo gave his side the shot in the arm they needed, as he scored the “Tor des Monats” and set up another to mark his return. Since then Polter has continued to find the back of the net, registering a further four times in the league and twice in the dramatic DFB-Pokal exit to Borussia Dortmund. His physical presence and link up play with fellow frontman, Sebastian Andersson has proven a tough test for most teams.

Trivia

  • The day before the game will see Michael Parensen celebrate his 10th anniversary with Union Berlin. The veteran defender arrived in the capital after a spell with FC. Marcel Hartel also made the move from FC to Berlin 18 months ago.
  • Union finished the Hinrunde unbeaten, that is a feat that only four other sides have managed in 2. Bundesliga history. One of those being FC in 2002-03.
  • Such is FC’s goalscoring ability this season, just three sides have scored more after 18 games in 2. Bundesliga history. Markus Anfang’s men also count amongst the top seven sides in terms of goal difference at this stage of the campaign.

Advice for FC fans

  • The stadium opens at 19:00 CET.
  • In the stadium and surrounding area, there is a ban on glass.
  • The stewards from Union Berlin point out that access to the away fan area is controlled by a security service of the club and in addition police forces monitor the entrance. Fans are kindly requested to schedule these checks upon arrival. The controls are carried out consistently, regardless of when the fans arrive.
  • There could be specific controlled checks, in order to search out banned materials. These controls will be from the stewards and should only take place with the knowledge of the Fanbetreuung or Fanprojekt.
  • Those found to be excessively under influence of alcohol or other substances will not be allowed into the stadium.
  • Small bags and handbags are allowed into the stadium. However, rucksacks, bags and suitcases are not. It’s recommended to not bring these to the ground, in order to make entry as quick and easy as possible.

TV schedule

The game is live across the world, with BT Sport showcasing the game in the UK and Ireland. Fox Soccer Match Pass covers the USA, while beIN Sports HD 7 will cover the vast majority of Africa and the Middle East. The match will also be available on viaplay in Scandanavia. As per usual, the game is shown on Sky in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

Secure your tickets for the next FC home games, here.

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Table

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Total table
PL.TeamPt.
9TSG 1899 Hoffenheim35
101. FC Köln32
111. FC Union Berlin30

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