Belastungssteuerung als Knackpunkt bei Union Berlin
After a successful start to the season, Union Berlin suffered setbacks in the Bundesliga. The key question for the restart is: How will the Iron Ones take the strain of three competitions?
The start of the fourth season in the Bundesliga could not have gone better for 1. FC Union. Coach Urs Fiacher’s team held the top spot in the table for a long time. When the euphoria was gone, however, the deficits became visible – especially when the Köpenickers had to play the game. Before the World Cup break, there were a few weak away appearances with plenty of goals conceded. If the Köpenickers want to reach the European Cup again, there should be further development in a playful way, the bloated squad should be slimmed down and creatively supplemented.
Sweat for the restart
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With merciless efficiency to the top – That’s how the first 15 days went
After an arduous 2-1 away win in the cup at Chemnitzer FC, 1. FC Union then started their fourth premier league season with a bang. In the derby, FCU won 3-1 at home against city rivals Hertha BSC. It was a perfect start to the season for the Irons and at the same time a trend-setting one. Because after further victories against Leipzig (2:1), Schalke (6:1) and Cologne (1:0) as well as two draws against Bayern and Mainz 05, 1. FC Union finally greeted them from the top of the table at the end of the 6th matchday .
The main reason for this explosion in performance, which only the most daring optimists would have believed Urs Fischer’s team capable of, was above all the merciless efficiency of the iron team. The team showed fast switching play in perfection and took advantage of the opportunities offered ice cold. The best example: In the 6-1 win at Schalke, Union only needed 12 shots on goal for their six goals and even had four fewer shots than their opponents. Once the FCU was in front, the opponents bit their teeth in rows on the tight defensive around the outstanding Robin Knoche. The Unioners were able to win many tight games. In addition, the newly formed storm duo Becker/Jordan harmonized perfectly at the beginning, so that the top spot in the Bundesliga could be defended until the 12th matchday.
But with the increasing double burden in the Europa League, 1. FC Union fell into a small crisis in the last third: The 1:2 defeat at bottom VfL Bochum was the start. The winless series then continued with a 2:2 against FC Augsburg and a disastrous 0:5 in Leverkusen. The subsequent 1: 4 in Freiburg was by no means a conciliatory end to the year 2022 for those responsible in Köpenick. Nevertheless, the FCU can be satisfied with the first half of the season so far. Urs Fischer’s team has never finished below fifth place. This means that Union has always had an international starting position in the current season.
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Reduce and add creatively – who comes, who goes
The top priority for Union managing director Oliver Ruhnert is currently the downsizing of the squad. Ruhnert recently suggested a change, especially for players with little playing time. Full-back Tymoteusz Puchacz followed this request. The 23-year-old Pole moved to Panathinaikos Athens in Greece, initially until the end of the season. In addition, the loan agreement includes a purchase option for the Greeks.
Another candidate who could still leave the club is Tim Skarke. The new signing from Darmstadt never played as a winger in Urs Fischer’s 3-5-2 formation, as did central midfielders Levin Öztunali and Kevin Möhwald. Both are also change candidates.
A player who has recently aroused desires is the variable full-back Julian Ryerson. Premier League club Brighton & Hove Albion are said to have expressed an interest in the 25-year-old Norwegian. If he leaves the club this winter, Union would probably get a handsome transfer fee. One who will definitely stay is captain and right winger Christopher Trimmel. The longest-serving member of the Union again extended his contract at the training camp in Spain. Should Ryerson leave Union, Urs Fischer would already have an experienced alternative in Trimmel.
Striker Sheraldo Becker also recently appeared on the shopping list of a Premier League club. Nottingham Forrest would like to sign Union’s top attacker in the Bundesliga (7 goals, 4 assists). There could then be a reunion with Union’s ex-storm partner Taiwo Awoniyi. But Becker prefers to play the Europa League rather than against relegation in England. With Kevin Behrens, another Union striker was under discussion at another club. 1. FC Köln would have liked to sign the beefy striker, but Behrens declined at short notice. His contract expires in the summer after two years. Then, according to Behrens, there will be a decision.
In principle, we deal with the actors who are less in focus.
On the side of the newcomers, Oliver Ruhnert has not yet been able to report any completion. A technically adept, creative midfielder would definitely fit the requirements profile of the FCU. The Hamburger Morgenpost had recently reported iron interest in HSV midfielder Ludivit Reis. Whether that will happen remains questionable, if at all, it will be in the summer at the earliest, as the player recently clarified.
In addition, the Köpenickers should be interested in the young Norwegian Sivert Mannswerk from FK Molde. The 20-year-old six impressed for Molde FK in the Conference League but is also being courted by other clubs. “In principle, we deal with the players who are less in focus,” says Ruhnert, although 1. FC Union no longer has to hide from many competitors in terms of sport.
Should Becker or Behrens leave the club after all, Ruhnert would certainly have to step up their attack in order to give the squad more depth again on the offensive.
Continuous development under coach Urs Fischer
Few coaches in the Bundesliga sit in their chair as confidently as Urs Fischer. The now 56-year-old Swiss player led the Irons into the Bundesliga for the first time in his first season, then held the class with confidence and then twice made it into the European Cup. It’s not just the coach’s measurable successes during his more than four-year tenure, but also a consistent development in the game that distinguishes him – and that despite numerous prominent departures in recent years. Fischer always manages to further shape his team – despite new staff in key positions – and to give it a successful face again.
Union Berlin extends contract with captain Christopher Trimmel
The focus of Fischer’s work is currently on possession football. The whole Bundesliga now knows that Union has a strong switching game, but against low-lying opponents who let Union have the ball, the playful deficits of the Irons were often visible. Fischer has been working on vertical play from defense since the second year in the Bundesliga. The team has not yet been able to fully implement this, but in Köpenick they still know what they have in the odd Swiss. Because Fischer has a plan. And in the club, everyone is involved in making this a reality.
expectations for the rest of the season
As in previous successful seasons, those responsible at 1. FC Union never tire of emphasizing that staying up in the league must first be achieved purely mathematically before they set higher goals. After the strong first third of the season, it is undisputed that the Irons have the potential to move back into the European Cup at the end of the season. The poor performances against Bochum, Leverkusen and in Freiburg shortly before the World Cup break made it clear that things can quickly go in the other direction.
Not to be underestimated is the high strain on the squad due to the many upcoming English weeks. In the Europa League, Ajax Amsterdam (first leg on February 16th, second leg on February 23rd) is awaiting a really well-known opponent for the first time in this competition and thus a real highlight for 1. FC Union. Before that, they play VfL Wolfsburg at home on January 31 to qualify for the quarter-finals of the DFB Cup. Crucial to the success of 1. FC Union will be how the top performers can cope with the high pressures and how Fischer is able to control them.
If Union Berlin succeeds in this balancing act and efficiency and consistency return in Berlin-Köpenick, then a lot is still possible this season. The start at home against Hoffenheim (January 21, 3:30 p.m.) could point the way again.
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