In just their second-ever season in the top flight of German football, Die Eisernen find themselves punching with the heavyweights.
Union Berlin – Underdogs Turning the Tables in the Bundesliga
Incredible Season for Union Berlin
Union Berlin have continued to defy the odds in the Bundesliga this season. Despite beginning the campaign with a home defeat against Augsburg, Urs Fischer’s side have been on an upward trajectory since.
A draw against Borussia Monchengladbach was followed up with a 4-0 victory over Mainz and a draw at Schalke.
A 3-3 draw at home to Eintracht Frankfurt came before just a second defeat of the season away to Berlin rivals, Hertha.
The derby defeat was certainly a wake-up call as Die Eisernen would go their next six league games unbeaten. A draw at home to league leaders Bayern Munich (despite doing enough to warrant three points) was followed with a draw on the road at high-flying Stuttgart and a win over Borussia Dortmund.
How Union Compare to Last Season
This season, Union are sixth in the Bundesliga on 28 points, just one point behind Dortmund in fourth. Fischer’s side have lost just three times this season, following that defeat at RB Leipzig on Wednesday night.
At this stage last season, the club sat 11th in the Bundesliga, five points above the bottom three on 20 points. Union had also suffered nine defeats – and were on a goal difference of minus four heading into the second half of the season.
There are three key differences this season to last. Firstly, Union have managed to turn the majority of those nine defeats into draws. Secondly, they are more clinical in front of goal with 32 goals scored compared to just 20 at this stage last season. And it’s the same at the back. Union have conceded just 21 goals (only three sides have allowed fewer) with last seasons tally at 24.
Although Union ended last season in 11th, their highest position of the campaign was tenth. Already this season, Fischer’s side have sat as high as fourth in the Bundesliga.
Following the departure of eight players in the summer, Union made several new signings at the start of the campaign and all have had relative success this season.
After Christian Gentner extended his stay, Sebastian Griesbeck, Niko Giesselmann, Keita Endo, Nico Schlotterbeck, Cedric Teuchert, Andreas Luthe, Robin Knoche, Max Kruse, Taiwo Awoniyi, Loris Karius and Joel Pohjanpalo all arrived in Köpernick.
Of the summer signings, Kruse has been the standout performer. The former Germany international struck six times and added five assists from just ten games.
But since picking up an injury in early December, Awoniyi has taken the responsibility, scoring five times and providing three assists, while Pohjanpalo, who is also out injured, has also scored twice from five appearances.
Union also added highly rated Bayern Munich youngster Leon Dajuku earlier this month.
Urs Ficher Contract
In early December, Union were boosted by the news that manager Urs Fischer has signed a contract extension with the club, along with assistant coach Markus Hoffman.
The duo led Die Eisernen from the second division to the top flight for the first time in the club’s history and kept Union there, finishing the season ten points clear of the relegation zone in 11th.
Maiden Bundesliga Campaign
That maiden Bundesliga season was incredible for Union. Despite an opening day defeat against RB Leipzig and draw at Augsburg, Fischer’s side picked up their first win of the season at home to Dortmund.
A win over rivals Hertha in the first-ever top-flight Berlin derby was a sound result, followed up with a win over table-topping Monchengladbach.
Despite inconsistent form for much of the season, Union were never really in danger of relegation. However, results post lockdown weren’t great and it took a 1-0 win over Paderborn with just three games remaining to secure their Bundesliga status.