1. FC Union Berlin vs 1. FC Kaiserslautern
German 2. Bundesliga, 8. Matchday
1. FC Union vs K'lautern
German 2. Bundesliga, 8. Matchday
Polter Power: Union striker bangs hat-trick as Kaiserslautern thumped
A five-star Union Berlin performance ended a run of five games without a win as bottom-placed Kaiserslautern were beaten at the Stadion An der Alten Försterei.
Sebastian Polter scored a hat trick under the lights in Köpenick, while Giuliano Modica and Marcel Correira contributed with own goals. The result capped off an impressive performance, one which was long coming after recent displays. Such was the frustration after the 1-0 loss in Sandhausen that Jens Keller rung six changes ahead of tonight’s encounter.
Backed by a boisterous home support, Union set the tempo in the opening exchanges. Toni Leistner and Polter missed chances inside the first few minutes before the former Queens Park Rangers centre forward popped up to convert the cross from Kristian Pedersen. Despite Union’s conviction in front of goal, Kaiserslautern’s on-loan keeper Marius Müller turned in a sensational performance to keep the scoreline respectable.
Christopher Trimmel and Fabian Schönheim combined on 11 minutes as Modica turned the ball past his own keeper. Polter had his second of the night on 25 minutes, rounding the keeper after great work from Steven Skrzybski. Less than two minutes later, the Union striker stepped up to the penalty spot and saw his effort clawed out by Müller.
Nevertheless, the Kaiserslautern defence continued to hand over the keys to the Köpenick club as Correira scored past his own keeper with less than 15 minutes left in the first period. Unsurprisingly, Union’s foot came off the boil, meaning the home supporters had to wait until the final quarter of an hour before the fifth added some shine to the performance. Marcel Hartel and Polter once again combined before the striker tucked home his third of the night.
“We played similarly to the last two home games and today we were rewarded for our efforts,” said Keller in the post-match media briefing. “The situation was not easy after the game in Sandhausen. Despite the pressure, you have seen from the beginning what the team wanted and we are happy that we played a good game and won so clearly. Victory was important for our self-confidence, but we're already facing another tough away game in Aue.”
Union Berlin will look to put together some momentum in the second division, when they head to Erzgebirge Aue on Saturday September 30. Given the ongoing renovations to the Sparkassen-Erzgebirgsstadion, the small number of tickets in the away block have all been sold.
Monday Night Football: Union Berlin host stranded Kaiserslautern
Union Berlin will take on Kaiserslautern under the floodlights at the Stadion An der Alten Försterei, looking to get the season back on track following the recent run of five consecutive matches without a victory.
“The situation isn’t comfortable. It’s a dry spell and we have to accept criticism. No matter how the performances were in previous games, the results stand and it’s not acceptable,” said Union head coach Jens Keller at the pre-game press conference. "We can train and talk about how we don't have much more resource. But it isn’t that everything that has happened so far has been cruel. The results were not correct, so we are very dissatisfied. Football is a result sport."
The situation is similarly perilous for Kaiserslautern, the German champions in 1998, who sit at the bottom of the second division. This week, the Red Devils twisted and axed experienced coach Norbert Meier after two points from the first seven league games this season. The hunt for a permanent coach is ongoing, with Manfred Paula, Head of the Academy, and U19 coach Alexander Bugera leading the side to Berlin.
“First and foremost, it was important to brighten the mood after the last few days and get the last few weeks out of our system,” Paula explained. “It was important to put everything down for a bit and look ahead. This was the intention of the first training sessions and the team is very focused. Until now we have been working mainly in the tactical area so that the boys there are wide awake. We wanted to teach the team how we want to play the game and what it means to play for Kaiserslautern.”
Keller warned against complacency in Köpenick, despite Kaiserslautern’s rough start to the campaign. “We can’t take this game lightly. The team is not as bad as they are right now. That is why it is important that we call up our performance 100 percent and for over 90 minutes, then we'll win the game. If we're not ready, Monday's gonna be tough. Nevertheless, it would of course be helpful for everyone if we could get three points at home.”
What the tactical structure of Kaiserslautern will be under new management, remains to be seen. “It is difficult to say how Lautern will perform. Maybe the coach has a whole new philosophy,” questioned Keller, who instead focused the attention on his side’s performance. “In Sandhausen our movements were missing in the last third, but in other games we created many chances. Against Braunschweig we got down to a good depth, in Sandhausen this didn't work out.”
There isn’t much for Keller to worry about on the fitness front, with Toni Leistner and Felix Kroos training comfortably this week. Standing tickets at the STADAF are sold out for Monday’s encounter, but there are still seated tickets available in the main stand and for visiting supporters.