After beating Werder Bremen 2-1 at home in early March, Augsburg had an eight points lead over the Bundesliga’s relegation zone. One could have anticipated a comfortable mid table finish and even an improvement from placing 14th last season, but after losing all seven of their league games since (D4, L3), the distance from the bottom three has shrunk to just three points heading into the round.
Union Berlin, a squad that clearly has the capacity to move Augsburg closer to the danger zone, will soon be visiting. This is an unenviable challenge for Augsburg. Although Augsburg will begin as underdogs, it’s important to note that they have won two and drawn two of their five league home games against teams seeded seventh or higher.
Last time out, many of Union’s UCL competitors earned three points, whereas they only earned one, though it was against a high flying Bayer Leverkusen team that had not lost in 14 competitive games (0-0). All things considered, you might say that it was another point earned, but they’ll be anxious to add three more today because fifth placed RB Leipzig is only two points behind them and Freiburg going into the round.
It’s interesting that those two teams will face off against one another this weekend in Bundesliga play, giving Union the chance to distance themselves from at least one of their competitors. The fact that Augsburg hasn’t won in five head to head matches (D2, L3), though, shows how the Berlin based team has grown to view Augsburg as something of a bogey team. Union Berlin must get through this psychological hurdle if they are to increase their chances of making their first ever UCL appearance.
In the rematch (2-2), strong Augsburg defender Jeffrey Gouweleeuw received one of his 10 Bundesliga yellow cards this season; as of this round, only one player had received more. He will attempt to restrain attacker Sheraldo Becker, who scored Union’s first goal in that match and their lone goal in their most recent away league encounter.
After veteran midfielder Julian Baumgartlinger joined the club’s list of casualties during last weekend’s draw at Frankfurt, injury plagued Augsburg may be without as many as eight first team players this weekend.
Long term absentees continue to include Andre Hahn and Tobias Strobl, while Saturday’s game is also anticipated to be missed by Iago, Mergim Berisha, Fredrik Jensen, Rafal Gikiewicz, and Reece Oxford.
Ermedin Demirovic, who has eight goals and six assists this season, will stay in attack, with Mads Pedersen and Renato Veiga playing fullback in a 4-4-2 formation.
Union Berlin, in comparison, has a healthy roster going into the match on Saturday, though center back Diogo Leite is suspended owing to a string of infractions.
Josip Juranovic and Jerome Roussillon will serve as the wingbacks for Union as Paul Jaeckel is anticipated to take Leite’s spot in the backline.
Theoson Siebatcheu will be joined in attack at the other end of the field by Sheraldo Becker, who has 10 goals and 8 assists this season in all competitions combined.
Augsburg possible starting lineup
Koubek, Veiga, Uduokhai, Gouweleeuw, Pedersen, Vargas, Rexhbecaj, Engels, Maier, Demirovic and Beljo.
Union Berlin possible starting lineup
Ronnow, Doekhi, Knoche, Jaeckel, Juranovic, Laidouni, Khedira, Haberer, Roussillon, Siebatcheu and Becker.
We predict: Augsburg 0–1 Union Berlin
We anticipate Union Berlin to defeat struggling Augsburg, who are destined to fall further into relegation danger, by a modest margin because Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund are still within striking distance.