Leonardo Bonucci (left) is about to make his Bundesliga debut against TSG Hoffenheim. IMAGO/Matthias Koch
After Madrid’s last-minute knockout, the reality for 1. FC Union Berlin is TSG Hoffenheim on Saturday (3:30 p.m., LIVE! on kicker). After the unfortunate debut in the premier class at Real Madrid (0-1), points should be scored in the home stadium An der Alten Försterei.
To some extent that would also be good for the well-being of the team. Including the two most recent Bundesliga defeats at VfL Wolfsburg (1:2) and at home against RB Leipzig (0:3), there were three competitive games in a row where three points were lost.
Fischer: “I don’t feel any pressure at all when I see how the team performed”
Coach Urs Fischer doesn’t want to know anything about a crisis. “I don’t feel any pressure at all when I see how the team performed. Logically, we don’t like the results,” said the Swiss. “We’d rather win. But we’re still in the race. Our goal is still 40 points.”
As in Madrid, defense chief Robin Knoche (muscular problems) has to pass for this undertaking. Sixth player Rani Khedira (calf injury) and attacker Kevin Volland (red card suspension) are also out. The use of Alex Kral, who was injured in Madrid, is also questionable.
Bonucci before his Bundesliga debut
Leonardo Bonucci will step in for Knoche for the second time and will now also make his debut in the Bundesliga. Nothing stands in the way of the Italian playing, although he had to be replaced by Paul Jaeckel in the final phase in Madrid. “It looks good. I spoke to him and he feels good. It was right to take him off the pitch early,” said Fischer. “He had signaled that the muscles had closed down and now he had two days to recover.”
The match against Hoffenheim, who will bring 800 fans with them, will not be a sure-fire success. After all, TSG has already won three times in this series. Fischer expects a high hurdle: “They are well organized. This is a team with a certain physicality, even when it comes to set pieces. A nice task awaits us.”
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