Union Berlin opened their Bundesliga campaign with a convincing 4-1 win over Mainz at the Alten Försterei on Sunday with Kevin Behrens grabbing an opening weekend hattrick. Urs Fischer was delighted with his team’s performance and that of Behrens in particular, but there looks to be a selection nightmare lurking round the corner for the wily Union trainer.
Having sensationally qualified for the Champions League last season in only their fourth campaign in the Bundesliga, the club have spent well this summer to strengthen the squad and provide the coach with a troop of players capable of competing on three fronts and trying to repeat the success of recent years.
The striking department in particular has been reinforced and Urs Fischer now has six genuine options to fill the two striking roles he prefers in his 3-4-2 formation. Last season saw Sheraldo Becker and Jordan form a decent partnership at the start of the season with Becker scoring eleven and Jordan four. Kevin Behrens came to the fore in the second half of the season and scored eight overall.
The club have parted ways with Sven Michel and Jamie Leweling this summer, but brought in four new players, who can play upfront giving the coach a potential real headache as he tries to keep seven players happy with only two starting berths available.
Kevin Behren’s fantastic start to the season (and end to 2022/23) will have done his place in the pecking order no harm at all. His game brigs something the other options don’t and it could be that Fischer uses the 32-year-old in a targeted way this season against certain opposition.
The club signed David Datro Fofana on loan from Chelsea and it is unlikely the Ivorian will be content with sitting on the Union Bench too often when he could have stayed in North London and done that. His selection on Sunday for the opening fixtures indicates that he is definitely in the coach’s primary plans.
Kevin Volland signed a day after Robin Gosens to add another hugely experienced player to the Köpenicker ranks. He has Bundesliga experience from his time with Leverkusen and Hoffenheim (77 Bundesliga goals) and like Gosens has been capped by Germany (15 caps). The Unioner have also signed two younger players with great potential in Dane Mikkel Kaufmann from Karlsruher SC and Benedict Hollerbach from Wehen Wiesbaden.
Sheraldo Becker will be a target for clubs in this transfer window and his goal and performances last season have certainly awakened the interest of clubs in both England and Italy.
Union are going to find themselves stretched this season in a way they are not used to with the Champions League another step up in quality from they experienced in the Europa League. There seems little indication that Urs Fischer is going to sway too far from his tried and tested methods with Union, but he is now going to have to tussle with the added dilemmas that a deeper squad present.
Seven into two, just won’t go, whatever way you look at it. There will be more than a few disappointed strikers sitting on the bench and in the stands, and the decision to drop someone who is scoring with regularity will be a very tough one to have to make. In German they call it the ‘Qual der Wahl’ (literally the torture of choice). Over to you Herr. Fischer, the choices are yours.