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Jan 8, 2022 at 2.30pm UK
B. LeverkusenBayer Leverkusen
Union BerlinUnion Berlin
Schick (38'), Tah (84')
Tah (59')
FT(HT: 1-1)
Promel (45', 50')
Trimmel (31'), Friedrich (85')

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

:Headline: Preview: Bayer Leverkusen vs. Union Berlin - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Saturday's Bundesliga clash between Bayer Leverkusen and Union Berlin, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

Bayer Leverkusen will be hoping to regain some consistency in their Bundesliga campaign when they return from Germany's winter break against Union Berlin on Saturday.

The hosts finished 2021 poorly but still remain on course for a successful season, whilst the visitors will be hopeful of repeating a successful calendar year by beginning the new one brightly at the BayArena.

Match preview

Despite consistency issues on occasion this season, Gerardo Seoane's first half of the campaign in charge of Leverkusen can be viewed as a positive one following his arrival last summer.

A blistering opening couple of months saw Die Werkself unexpectedly challenging Bayern Munich for the title, but following a damaging defeat to their competitors, the wheels briefly fell off their bright start.

Following a five-game winless spell during October, Seoane's side regained their form during an excellent November but once again fell away during December prior to the winter break.

Three defeats and a draw across their last four fixtures in all competitions of 2021 mean Leverkusen are out of the title race completely, with 15 points now separating themselves from Bayern at the summit.

However, a title challenge was neither expected or deemed a realistic possibility for the Swiss boss, and after missing out on the Champions League in each of the last two seasons, a return to the European grand stage was always the aim.

Heading into Saturday's clash with Union, the hosts occupy fourth spot in the table, but though that means the goal has been achieved as things stand, just seven points separating third from 10th means that situation could change very quickly indeed unless they can begin a consistent run of form starting at the weekend.

Meanwhile, the quietly consistent Union enjoyed an extremely impressive 2021, with last year's seventh-placed finish earning them a spot in the debut Europa Conference League campaign this season.

Although Urs Fischer's side were eliminated from the group stage of that tournament prior to the winter break, Union remained strong in the Bundesliga once more.

As a result, Die Eisernen begin 2022 in seventh spot as well, just one point behind Saturday's opponents in the Champions League places.

Despite huge differences in budget and overall quality compared to many of their divisional rivals, Union have continued to perform above expectations over the last couple of years, but a successful start to the new year will be difficult to achieve if recent meetings with Leverkusen are anything to go by.

Just one win has been registered against their hosts in their last seven meetings across all competitions, and with just the two victories from their opening eight league games on the road this season, Fischer will be aware of the sizeable task his team faces at the weekend.

However, with one of these away wins arriving last time out before the break, in a 1-0 success at VfL Bochum, Union arrive at the BayArena looking to repeat that feat.

Bayer Leverkusen Bundesliga form:
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • D
  • L

Bayer Leverkusen form (all competitions):
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • L
  • D
  • L

Union Berlin Bundesliga form:
  • W
  • L
  • W
  • L
  • D
  • W

Union Berlin form (all competitions):
  • L
  • W
  • D
  • L
  • D
  • W

Team News

Leverkusen will be missing the defensive duo of Edmond Tapsoba and Odilon Kossounou on Saturday, with the pair being called up by their respective nations for AFCON.

Fellow defender Timothy Fosu-Mensah nears a return from a long-term knee injury but is not expected to feature just yet, whilst Piero Hincapie returned to training in the week following a recent positive COVID-19 test result.

Julian Baumgartlinger is also expected back soon from his own serious injury, but remains doubtful due to fitness concerns at this stage, while fellow midfielders Charles Aranguiz and Exequiel Palacios are definitely out until the end of January.

As for the visitors, top goalscorer Taiwo Awoniyi will be a big miss, with the nine-goal Nigerian striker also being selected to represent his country in the upcoming tournament.

Max Kruse and Kevin Behrens will be fighting to deputise for Awoniyi alongside Sheraldo Becker in the two-man attack.

Rani Khedira and Pawel Wszolek are doubtful due to contracting COVID-19, but Fischer has no other injury concerns to deal with ahead of the trip to Leverkusen.

Bayer Leverkusen possible starting lineup:
Hradecky; Frimpong, Tah, Hincapie, Bakker; Andrich, Demirbay; Diaby, Wirtz, Adli; Schick

Union Berlin possible starting lineup:
Luthe; Jaeckel, Knoche, Friedrich; Trimmel, Khedira, Promel, Giesselmann; Haraguchi; Kruse, Becker

We say: Bayer Leverkusen 3-1 Union Berlin

With Leverkusen possessing home advantage, as well as Union missing their top goalscorer, we are predicting a comfortable win for the hosts on Saturday.

Union are always difficult to beat but remain a different side away from home, so if Leverkusen can recapture their best form from earlier in the campaign, they will prove too much for the visitors.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting over 2.5 goals 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.Over 2.5:data

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Bundesliga Table
1Bayern MunichBayern19151361184346
2Borussia DortmundDortmund19131549292040
3Bayer LeverkusenB. Leverkusen1995544311332
5Union BerlinUnion Berlin198742724331
7RB Leipzig1984736231328
8Eintracht FrankfurtFrankfurt197753028228
9FC Koln197753032-228
10Mainz 05198382721627
11VfL BochumVfL Bochum1972101727-1023
12Borussia MonchengladbachBorussia M'bach196492535-1022
13Hertha Berlin196492138-1722
16Arminia Bielefeld193971826-818
18Greuther Furth1914141551-367
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