Anyone waiting and expecting the Union Berlin fairy tale to end anytime soon will be sorely disappointed. The club’s dream of finishing in the Bundesliga top four and qualifying for next season’s Champions League is very much alive and with just five games to go this season, you write off die Eisernen at your peril.
Going into the World Cup and Winter break Union were riding high in fifth place level on points with Eintracht Frankfurt and one behind RB Leipzig in third. Borussia Dortmund were two points behind.
A fantastic Hinrunde (their best yet) had carried on the form from the previous season which saw Urs Fischer’s side finish fifth in only their third season in the top-flight. The Köpenick side had improved from eleventh to seventh and then to fifth, but hardly anyone expected the bubble to remain intact and see the club finish in the top four this season.
Consecutive defeats to Frankfurt and Dortmund followed by just a point against Bochum may have given the impression Union were flagging going into the final stretch of a long-season, but Sunday’s win at the Borussia park over Mönchengladbach saw them winning (and winning the Union way) and cementing their place in the current top four.
They had to dig deep against the Foals and play to their strengths- defensive solidity and a dangerous counter-attack that takes its chances when they arrive. Sheraldo Becker scored his ninth of the season to seal a 1-0 win and with Leipzig losing at Leverkusen, they now have a four-point advantage over die Roten Bullen in fifth place. They are also just four points behind Bayern Munich in second.
“We are very satisfied – not only with the result, but also with the performance” coach Urs Fischer said after the win. “It was a very disciplined performance, we had a very good, compact organization for 90 minutes. We didn’t have a phase in the game, where we once slacked off. In the end, we deserved to win.”
The Union bubble continues to soar and with five games remaining this season, the seemingly unbelievable looks set to become believable. The minnows from der Alten Försterei will be seeing their name going into the Champions League draw in Nyon in August with the prospect of playing the likes of Real Madrid, Manchester City and PSG. Four years ago they were playing the likes of Erzgebirge Aue and Dynamo Dresden in the second tier.
Five games and a four-point cushion are all that stand between Union and the perfect ending to their fairy tale.
Union’s run-in: Bayer Leverkusen (h), Augsburg (a), Freiburg (h), Hoffenheim (a), Werder Bremen (h).
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