With three games played in the new 2019/20 Bundesliga season and the first international break upon us, it seems a good time to take stock of the early season fate of the three promoted sides. First up Union Berlin.
From fairy tale to reality
Of all three sides to come up from Bundesliga.2 this season, the real footballing story belonged to Union Berlin. Never before had the minnows from Köpenick graced the German top flight and the whole club ethos just seemed to reek of tradition, passion and all that is good about the game.
There was huge expectation going into their first game even though the opponents at the Stadion An der Alten Försterei were not exactly anyone’s desired first match in the Bundesliga.
RB Leipzig were the visitors and drew the ire of the home support in the form of an atmosphere ban for the opening fifteen minutes as a way of protesting the “construct” that the Saxon club represent- all that Union are not.
Julian Nagelsmann’s side really did spoil the party in more ways than one with a comfortable 3-0 win that brought die Eisernen down to earth with a bump- ‘Welcome to the Bundesliga’.
They bounced back on matchday 2 to gain their first-ever points with a 1-1 draw away at Augsburg. They showed great spirit with Sebastian Andersson equalising in the 80th minute, although Keven Schlotterbeck’s red card late in the game was a slight blot on their day
Having been given a lesson by Leipzig on matchday 1, it looked like a repeat could be on the cards when Borussia Dortmund were the visitors on matchday 3. What transpired was just the stuff of dreams as Union stunned the title aspirants with a 3-1 win, that was more than justified. Two goals from Marius Bülter a second in two games for Sebastian Andersson brought BVB’s downfall.
Speaking after the famous win, coach Urs Fischer played down the achievement saying, “You can see the team is learning, trying to learn, trying to improve. We’re far away from sending any kind of signal to the league.”
But they have.
Union will produce a fantastic atmosphere at their home ground, but they will also produce performances, which show they are fighting for their hard-fought place at the top table. Four points from their opening three games is a respectable tally when you consider they’ve already hosted Champions League teams Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig.
Just in terms of the goals scored, Sebastian Andersson and Marius Bülter stand out with two apiece so far (Andersson also has an assist to his name). Midfielder Robert Andrich has covered 35.29 km in his three appearances giving him an average of 11.76 km/90 mins. This currently ranks him fifth in the entire league (Joshua Kimmich leads with 37.2 km).
If you go by Kicker’s match ratings for players with more than a single appearance, Andersson and centre back Neven Subotic both have a 3,25 average so far.
Union know they are in for a tough season this year. Their chances will hinge a lot on their home form as well as how they perform against those sides likely to be towards the bottom end of the table and competing to avoid a place in the bottom three (Augsburg, Mainz, Paderborn, Freiburg, Schalke(!).
Following the international break Union’s task doesn’t get any easier with Werder Bremen at home followed by a trip to the Bay Arena to face Leverkusen, They then host Eintracht Frankfurt at the Stadion An der Alten Försterei before an away game against Wolfsburg, who have started the season very well under new coach Oliver Glasner.
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