Union is the German football Cinderella. The club has risen from the very depths and now plays in the Champions League
«Union» is a club with traditions. An incredible fan base, stories of blood donations to help their favorite team, more than 2,000 fans who participated in the renovation of the stadium, congratulations from the bus driver on the official social network — fans are desperately trying to preserve all this club romance, but even on the football field the team has enough stories that make her admire her. Now Union plays in the Champions League — the most prestigious club competition in the world, which attracts the attention of a huge number of fans. Some of these fans are engaged in sports forecasting, especially since up-to-date
In its first season in the Bundesliga, Union finished the championship in 11th place, then ended up in 7th position, then finished 5th, and last season (during which it led the standings for quite a long time) jumped into the top 4 – Champions League zone.
The success of the Berlin team on the football field lies in primitive football. The Bundesliga is loved for its spectacular game — they score a lot, concede quite a few, the attack of one team is interrupted by a counterattack of another, and from all this the fans are “on fire”, creating a phenomenal atmosphere in the stands.
But at this time Union appears in the championship, playing completely differently and imposing its own playing style. A strong low block does not allow opponents to develop fast attacks and forces them to look for other approaches to the goal. Here the Berliners are already running on a counter-offensive, boom — goal. And then they earned a corner, a serve — a goal. “How do they do it?” is a question that most Bundesliga clubs still have no answer to.
Coach Urs Fischer has accustomed the team to the fact that they will not have many chances during the match, given the team’s playing style, so they need to take advantage of every scoring chance. In the 2019/20 season, Union took 12th place with only 41 goals to its credit — only three teams had fewer, two of which were relegated. On average, the Swiss team made only 4 shots on target in one match, and the team’s average xG stood at 0.34.
With a total xG of 46.9, Union scored 50 goals the following season, the situation was identical in the 2021/22 season (47 xG, 50 goals), and in the last campaign 51 goals came from 37.9 expected goals. Only the position of the Berliners in the standings changed — they were constantly moving up.
Urs Fischer’s team started the current season in the German Championship with two victories with a score of 4:1, but subsequently lost twice. Participation in the Champions League will also direct the team’s season in a logical direction, but already at a distance, Union has not only become the main club in Berlin, but also a serious rival in the Bundesliga, in matches with which both Bayern and Dortmund have lost more than once glasses.
Now Union, which 15 years ago was preparing for matches with Eintracht Braunschweig, Wuppertaler and Wacker from the town of Burghausen, is conducting a pre-match warm-up at the Santiago Bernabeu before meeting with the most successful club in the history of the League. A utopia that no one believed in either 15 or 5 years ago.
In the summer, Union strengthened powerfully: Bonucci (!) and Gozens arrived, a Chelsea player arrived on loan and Leeds’ record transfer in history. Also, then no one would have believed that international-level footballers would play for Union so soon. On the eve of its debut season in the Champions League, the Berlin club strengthened itself very seriously, although it spent only 32 million euros on transfers.
The Berliners’ most expensive acquisition was Robin Gozens, who played in the Champions League final for Inter last season. The 29-year-old German is playing in the Bundesliga for the first time in his career and has already started well — he has 3 goals in four starting matches.
Central defender Diogo Leite, who played for Union on loan last season, completed a full transfer from Porto this summer for 7.5 million euros. Centers Kevin Volland, Mikkel Kaufmann and Benedikt Hollersbach came from Monaco, Copenhagen and Veen respectively, while Brenden Aaronson from Leeds, Datro Fofana from Chelsea and Kral, who spent last season at Leeds, arrived on loan. Schalke.»
Interestingly, Union also strengthened with two players from Hertha — another Berlin club and actually the enemy of the Steel. Defensive midfielder Luke Tousar was signed for only 2.8 million euros (in 2020 he moved to Hertha for 25 million euros), and goalkeeper Alexander Shvolov came as a free agent.
However, of course, Union’s star signing in the summer of 2023 is Leonardo Bonucci. The Italian left Juventus with a scandal, where he earned the status of a legend of world football and had several offers from Serie A, but Union with the Champions League turned out to be the priority option for the 36-year-old centerback.
Bonucci in Union even sounds fantastic. But this is reality. Berlin captain Christopher Trimmel told The Athletic an interesting story ahead of the match in Madrid: “Last week we were sitting in the dressing room and talking about the Bernabeu. Someone asked Leo: “Have you ever played there?” Trimmel, when he told Bonucci the answer, laughed loudly: “He said he played there 5 times!”
Bonucci himself played at the Bernabeu 5 times, and Union had not played a single match in the Champions League until this season.