For those people waiting for the Union Berlin bubble to burst, you might have to wait a bit longer. Sitting top of the Bundesliga table die Eisernen ensured they will still be in European competition after the winter break with a dramatic win over Malmö in midweek (hot on the heels of another three points in the league).
Two defeats in their opening two Europa League matches looked like the end for Union in terms of Europe, but a win in Sweden and a home win thanks to a late penalty means that they will either progress or move down into the Conference League after the World Cup.
Urs Fischer’s side beat VfB Stuttgart by a 1-0 scoreline last weekend showing that they can grind out results as well as blow teams away. The victory maintained their place at the top and they host a Dortmund side, that many would have predicted would top Union in the table by this stage.
They don’t and currently sit fifth on sixteen points. They grabbed a dramatic last-gasp point in the Klassiker last weekend with Anthony Modeste’s headed goal, but there was disappointment in midweek when they could only draw at home to Sevilla- a team they had comfortably beaten a week earlier.
There are still a host of issues stopping Dortmund from replacing Union as the dominant team in the league. Consistency, creativity, ball retention, injuries, attitude are all playing a role this season and Edin Terzic is having to juggle to try and overcome the creases in BVB’s game.
A tough trip to Köpenick is not the ideal game to follow the two tough matches they have just had as player fatigue/ overload starts to kick in.
There will be the temptation to rotate after the midweek game, but Urs Fischer will also want to put out his strongest line-up against Dortmund. Timo Baumgartl could come In. The only injury absence is Kevin Möhwald so he has a full squad to choose from.
Possible line-up: Rönnow, Baumgartl, Knoche, Leite, Ryerson, Khedira, Gießelmann, Schäfer, Haberer, Jordan, Becker
The big news for Dortmund is the potential return of Marco Reus, although it is unlikely he will be risked from the start. Thomas Meunier limped off against Sevilla so Marius Wolf will take over his place. Youssoufa Moukoko should get the nod ahead of Anthony Modeste again.
Possible line-up: Kobel, Wolf, Hummels, Schlotterbeck, Guerreiro, Bellingham, Özcan, Adeyemi, Brandt, Malen. Moukoko
What they’re saying:
Urs Fischer: To follow…
Edin Terzic: “They work very consistently, have a very good atmosphere in the squad and compensate for their departures outstandingly. You get the feeling that everything’s very harmonious. Everyone knows their role within the team and knows what matters. In addition, they have this wonderful support at home games in particular.
“We’re always capable of creating goalscoring chances. The focus in training is not only to create goalscoring chances, but to bring them to a positive conclusion too. It’s about being precise.
“Union are the team that contest the most challenges and cover the most ground in the league. We must hold firm. It’s all about reducing the gap from four points to one.”
13.10.22 Malmo (h) 1-0 W (Europa League)
09.10.22 VfB Stuttgart (a) 0-1 W (Bundesliga)
06.10.22 Malmo (a) 0-1 W (Europa League)
01.10.22 Eintracht Frankfurt (a) 2-0 L (Bundesliga)
18.09.22 VfL Wolfsburg (h) 2-0 W (Bundesliga)
11.10.22 Sevilla (h) 1-1 D (Champions League)
08.10.22 Bayern Munich (h) 2-2 D (Bundesliga)
05.10.22 Sevilla (a) 4-1 W (Champions League)
01.10.22 Köln (a) 3-2 L (Bundesliga)
17.09.22 Schalke (h) 1-0 W (Bundesliga)
The corresponding fixture last season in Berlin took place on matchday 22 and saw Borussia Dortmund leave with all three points following a 3-0 win. A brace from BVB captain Marco Reus in the first half handed control to the visitors and third from Rapahel Guerreiro in the second 45 minutes sealed the win.
Players to watch:
The strike duo of Sheraldo Becker and Jordan Pefok grabbed the headlines in the opening weeks and they will be looking to utilise their pace against the BVB backline on Sunday. Becker is behind Niclas Füllkrug in the scoring charts and will want to reclaim top spot. Jordan has a World Cup place with the USMNT to aim for and Bundesliga goals will do his chances no harm.
With every passing game the superlatives surrounding Jude Bellingham increase. He has not missed a single minute for BVB this season and at his tender age has captained the team in Reus’ absence and looked the one ‘world class’ player in the Dortmund team. This is the sort of game he will relish if his batteries can remain fully charged.