Last Season: 4th
Coach: Urs Fischer
Squad Valuation: €179m
Stadium: Stadion An der Alten Försterei (22,012)
The fact that Union Berlin’s meteoric rise to a top four finish and a first-ever Champions League campaign has coincided with city rivals Hertha’s chaotic descent into the 2.Bundesliga has made things all the more sweeter at the Alten Försterei and now puts die Unioner as the top dogs in the German capital.
The bursting of the bubble that many people expected simply didn’t happen last season as Urs Fischer managed to engender a level of consistency with a game plan that perfectly suited the players at his disposal. The Union tactical plan was no secret, but not many teams managed to find a way to successfully counter it. Since their promotion in 2019 Union have finished 11th, 7th, 5th and now 4th. If this continual upward trend continues then they are going to have to usurp one of the real ‘big teams’ in Bayern, Dortmund or Leipzig.
Success however would be another top seven finish and European football and with a stronger squad this season, that looks a straightforward task. Union are very good at identifying the right players for their system and trainer Fischer is an expert at man management and getting players to completely buy into his system.
This summer has seen the squad strengthened so that the coach really does have two top options for each position and so far they haven’t lost any of their key men from last season. Loanee Diogo Leite has signed a permanent deal, although there are transfer rumours circulating about both Frederik Rönnow and Sheraldo Becker.
Lucas Tousart has made the move across town from relegated Hertha and he will add quality and experience to provide cover for Sami Khedira. Brenden Aaronson has arrived from Leeds United having not enjoyed the best of seasons following his move to England. A return to the form he showed at RB Salzburg is what Union are after. In midfielder Alex Kral they have poached another player from a relegated side (Schalke), although he was one of the Königsblauen’s better players.
The loan signing of Chelsea striker David Datro Fofana looks an exciting move and the Cote d’Ivoire attacker has looked good in pre-season already and will compete with Becker, Jordan and Kevin Behrens for a place in the two-man front line. It will be interesting to see how exciting talent Benedict Hollerbach fits in after his signing from When Wiesbaden.
Major signings: Lucas Tousart (Hertha Berlin), Mikkel Kaufmann (FC Copenhagen), Benedict Hollerbach (Wehen Wiesbaden), Alexander Schwolow (Hertha Berlin), Brenden Aaronson (Leeds United), David Datro Fofana (Chelsea loan), Alex Kral (Spartak Moscow loan)
Major departures: Sven Michel (Augsburg), Paul Seguin (Schalke), Jamie Leweling (VfB Stuttgart), Rick van Drongelen (Samsunspor), Morten Thorsby (Genoa), Timo Baumgartl (PSV Eindhoven), Tymoteusz Puchacz (Kaiserslautern)
Youngster to watch: Aljoscha Kemlein
The Union side is not blessed with a lot of teenage players, but 19-year-old Berlin-born midfielder Aljoscha Kemlein is one player who will be pushing for his Bundesliga debut after an impressive season with Union Berlin II. The central midfielder has moved through the club’s youth ranks and with the fixture burden Union are facing again this season, Urs Fischer is going to have to dig deep at times.