Union Berlin vs FC Köln preview:
Die Eisernen aiming to return to winning ways
By Ben Sully @SullyBen
Union Berlin will be hoping to end a three-game winless run when they play host to FC Köln on Friday, while the visitors are looking to clinch consecutive away victories.
Union may have one eye on next week’s derby contest against Hertha BSC, but Urs Fischer will be imploring his side to remain focused on Friday’s home meeting with Köln. The Union boss will also be hoping his side return from the international break in much-improved form.
Union’s last six league matches have resulted in one win, one draw and four defeats. Winless in their last three matches, Die Eisernen were humbled by Bayern Munich in their last outing, with the German Champions sweeping aside Fischer’s side courtesy of a 4-0 scoreline.
Despite their recent poor run of form, Union sit six points off sixth position, while they could still qualify for European competition via the DFB-Pokal, with Union in the last four of the cup competition.
Die Eisernen will also be pleased to return to home surroundings on Friday, having only lost just twice at the Stadion An der Alten Försterei in the league this season.
If Union are to avoid defeat for their third consecutive home match then they may have to do without Andreas Luthe who is a doubt, which could mean that Frederik Rønnow lines up in goal for the hosts. Keita Endo, meanwhile, will miss out due to a knee injury.
The visitors are two points better off than their hosts, with four points separating them from Hoffenheim in sixth position, while they are also just five points adrift of the Champions League places.
Unlike their opponents, Köln would have been frustrated about the timing of the international window. Prior to the two-week break, Die Geißböcke had enjoyed an away victory over Bayer Leverkusen before drawing 1-1 against Borussia Dortmund at the RheinEnergieStadion.
Despite flirting with the European places, Steffen Baumgart - once a Union player - will be frustrated that his side have won just three away league matches this season. However, instead of defeats, Köln's reoccurring issue on their travels has been an inability to convert draws into victories. In fact, no team in the Bundesliga this season has drawn more away games than Baumgart's side.
Although, the Köln boss will be pleased that his team have lost just one of their previous eight away league games.
Die Geißböcke will be searching for back-to-back away wins, and it is a goal they will be confident of achieving, especially as they welcome back a number of players to the squad, including Ellyes Skhiri and Salih Özcan. Although, they are still missing Benno Schmitz and Timo Horn, while Ondrej Duda is suspended due to an accumulation of yellow cards.