“When are you a top team?”: 1. FC Union is still shy
The derby had only been over for a few minutes when things got philosophical in the Olympic Stadium. Well, at least a bit football-philosophically. “When are you a top team?” Rani Khedira mused after the 2-0 win over Hertha BSC and looked for an innocuous answer. After all, 1. FC Union Berlin’s official goal for the season is 40 points, and it would be unfavorable if the hunt for the big FC Bayern were publicly announced.
As with the opposing pressure in midfield, Khedira then found a way out of the press from the journalists. “I don’t know if we’re already a top team,” said the 28-year-old leading player. “But the momentum is on our side right now.”
There is currently consensus on this statement in German football. After the autumn low immediately before the World Cup break, Union got off to an ideal start with three wins and has improved back to second place in the table. As expected, the long preparation did the Berliners good. The players have the necessary freshness again for the intensive running approach and coach Urs Fischer was able to work on his beloved basics and small innovations in peace for weeks with almost no national players.
As a consequence, Union is as disgusting for the opponents as it was at the best of times. “We have to stay humble and play like Union Berlin,” said Khedira. As in the first two games of the year, this style was also evident against Hertha. Union didn’t allow much, was compact and even if only the second half against Hoffenheim was convincing offensively, you always have the impression that a goal will be scored at some point. For example by a standard.
The Berliners scored four of their seven goals in the past English week from dead balls, three of which bore the signature of Christopher Trimmel and Danilho Doekhi. Hertha had prepared intensively for Union standards and was powerless. “When the two-meter ox jumps so high, it’s difficult,” said Hertha’s Marco Richter, somewhat at a loss.
The Dutch central defender is only 1.90 meters tall, but that’s how it is at Union at the moment. The Berliners have so much self-confidence in their own qualities that they appear bigger, stronger and faster to the opponent.
We have to stay humble and play like Union Berlin.
Rani Khedira after the 2-0 win against Hertha BSC
But back to the question: is Union now a top team? Certainly not in the traditional sense. The team does not dominate the opponents, is playfully and technically far removed from the potential of the competition from Munich, Leipzig, Frankfurt or Dortmund. It is no coincidence that Union has more points than three of these supposed top teams.
Because the Berliners understand better than all their competitors in the Bundesliga how to hide their own shortcomings and put their strengths in the foreground. This is usually nothing for football aesthetes, but extremely successful.
However, the second half of the season is just getting started and Union had a relatively easy opening program against consistently unsettled opponents. In the coming weeks, the level will rise significantly.
On Tuesday (8.45 p.m., Sky) the An der Alten Försterei stadium will face VfL Wolfsburg for a place in the quarter-finals of the cup. In February, the league will go to Leipzig and Munich, among others, and two times in the Europa League against Ajax Amsterdam.
After this endurance test, the question of Union’s top team status will also be easier to answer – and the Berliners can’t hide behind the 40 points for much longer, because they are already at 36.
Brayden White, a veteran sports writer at Global Happening, brings his wealth of knowledge and expertise to the sports section. With over a decade of experience, he is committed to delivering high-quality coverage of the latest games and events.
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