Sunday, January 24, 2021

Union Berlin – The Surprise package of the Bundesliga

Since the German Reunification in 1990, Union Berlin have been slowly but surely working their way up from the depths of the German fourth division to the top of the tree. They are enjoying their first season in the Bundesliga this year, and they’ve made quite the impact.

The Rivalry

Much to the surprise of everyone, new-boys Union currently sit tenth in the German top division. They’ve enjoyed quite the season so far and currently have a healthy seven point gap to their bitter rivals, Hertha. The Berlin rivalry was always going to be special, Union are the fifth team ever to represent the German capital in the top division, with Tasmania 1900 Berlin, Blau-Weiß Berlin, Tennis Borussia Berlin and of course, Hertha coming before them.

Only two of the sides have ever been in the top division for more than one season and with them all having been in the league at different times, we’ve only ever seen four capital derbies in Bundesliga. The other difference is that all of the other old Berlin derbies weren’t just “Berlin Derbies”, they were also West Berlin derbies. Union are the first team ever to represent the old East Berlin in the Bundesliga.

As a result of that, when the first derby came around earlier on in the season – it was quite the spectacle. It was East vs West, newbies vs The Old Lady, Union vs Hertha. The atmosphere was tense, the stadium was rocking and in the end, it was the new boys who came away with the win. A penalty from Sebastian Polter in the 87th minute was enough for Union to secure all three points and claim a little nugget of history – the winners of the first ever East vs West Berlin derby in Bundesliga.

Union Berlin Notable Moments

Union Berlin

We’re currently still just 14 games into the season, but with 20 games still to play – Union have had made some serious memories already, regardless of what happens in the second half of the season.

In the first game of the season, Union hosted RB Leipzig. In the run up to the game, the club’s ultras group, theWuhlesyndikat, successfully planned and organised a silent protest at the start of the game. The protest was against their rivals, Leipzig, and the way the club is run – the Union fans, alongside most others, don’t approve of the ownership model at Leipzig.

Matchday three in the Bundesliga saw Union pick up their first ever win in the top division – and by God did they pick a game to pull it out in. They welcomed Champions League giants Borussia Dortmund to Stadion An der Alten Försterei. Marius Bulter put Berlin into the lead, before Paco Alcacer brought them crashing back down to Earth three minutes later. However, in the second half, Urs Fischer’s side were back on cloud nine again as Bulter scored a second and Martin Andersson added the finishing touches to a memory for a thousand lifetimes.

In the last five games, Union have picked up four wins and as mentioned earlier, sit firmly in mid-table. As it stands currently, they sit closer to the Champions League places in the league than they do to in terms of points. They’re just five points behind champions Bayern Munich and seem to be looking up the table rather than behind them.

The next match sees them travel to Paderborn to take on their fellow promoted side and a team we all though they’d be battling with to avoid finishing rooted to the bottom of the table. It’s another great chance to pick up three points and keep progressing up the table. They seem to really be enjoying their time in the top division right now, if they’re going to continue to play the way they have been then long may it continue.

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