1. FC Union Berlin vs FC Bayern München

Bundesliga, 30. Matchday

1. FC Union vs Bayern

Bundesliga, 30. Matchday

Sat., 20. April 2024, 18:30 Uhr
An der Alten Försterei
1 : 5
SR: Sven Jablonski

Ruthless Bayern Beat Union

Match report

1. FC Union Berlin lost 5-1 on Saturday evening to a nerveless Bayern München who were efficiency personified infront of goal, though who could maybe consider themselves fortunate to be 2-0 up at half time, especially when looking at the Robin Gosens shot that Manuel Neuer fingertipped wide. Yorbe Vertessen, however, scored for Union in the 91st minute.

1. FC Union Berlin: Rönnow – Trimmel (59. Juranović), Doekhi, Vogt, Leite (59. Kaufmann), Gosens – Tousart, Schäfer (59. Laïdounï), Aaronson – Volland (70. Knoche), Hollerbach (59. Vertessen)

FC Bayern München: Neuer – Kimmich (70. Mazraoui), Minjae (59. Upamecano), Dier, Davies – Pavlovic, Goretzka (70. Laimer), Tel, Müller (83. Zvonarek), Choupo-Moting (70. Zaragoza) – Kane

The starting XI

For the Bundesliga’s top match on Saturday evening, Nenad Bjelica chose to start with a certain sense of familiarity at the back, Frederik Rönnow in goal behind his favoured back three of Diogo Leite, Kevin Vogt and Danilho Doekhi. And he was buoyed by the return of Robin Gosens on the left, while Christopher Trimmel was still there, having made himself irreplaceable on the right.

But it was inside of them he had a couple of surprises up his sleeve. Rani Khedira was on the bench, leaving his spot, holding the midfield, to Lucas Tousart (also back from suspension) and Andras Schäfer (back from playing at left-back) while Brenden Aaronson was given the freedom to join Benedict Hollerbach and a Kevin Volland, also coming back to the starting eleven, up front.

Attendance:  22.012 (sold out)

Goals: 0-1 Goretzka (29.), 0-2 Kane (45.), 0-3 Müller (53.), 0-4 Tel (61.), 0-5 Müller (66.), 1-5 Vertessen (90+1)

Union make all the running, but Goretzka opens, before Kane scores at the death

Union started off as if taking their lead from the flares in the Waldseite on kick off. Following the excellent Tousart’s challenge on Leon Goretzka and Hollerbach’s impish burst forwards – one of many -  Trimmel’s ball in at the second attempt saw Gosens rising for a header as he charged into the box. The place was cooking, summed up by Trimmel’s lunge on Nathan Tel out on the right.

But Bayern were seeing enough of the ball, ominously, and Rönnow had to be alert to fist Harry Kane’s shot from outside the box away as it swerved dangerously towards him.

Leite was standing firm, a tackle on Mathys Tel, out on the right, was strong, his balance perfect. And Tousart, was always there, making tackles, sniffing out danger, and it took Minjae Kim to grapple Volland down to the ground as he turned towards the Bayern goal after 10 minutes. Union looked sharp and took the head of Eric Dier to flick another Trimmel ball away as Volland loomed behind him, the culmination of a great sweeping move started by the effervescent Aaronson.

The American looked particularly dangerous, his 30 yard run up the middle saw him set Hollerbach away on the right, but the whole thing had been started by  the next in a parade of Doekhi tackles in his own box, dispossessing Eric Choupo-Moting as if it was the easiest thing in the world. It took Eric Dier to stop Hollerbach as he cut back inside on himself  towards the Bayern box.

As the half wore on Union were the better side, another gorgeous move saw Vogt find Aaronson who sprung Trimmel away again on the right. His ball across found Gosens just too late as he hared into space on the left. And every time Kimmich tried to clip a ball in with his right into the box, Doekhi was there to nod it away with utter certainty; and when they tried something different, Müller coming in from the same position, Doekhi brushed him off the ball, too.

But suddenly Bayern took the lead, Leon Goretzka hit a shot from the edge of the box over Rönnow, and in off the bar after Müller’s clever dummy. The crowd was stunned into silence, but just for a moment. They were louder than ever as play restarted.

Yet, Union flew back at their vaunted hosts. Tousart drew a fine stop from Neuer, before Schäfer’s drive was deflected just wide of the near post. Doekhi’s header from the resulting corner flew wide. Then Schäfer, who had grown into the game and was a menace driving up the middle, couldn’t quite find a straining Gosens in the box. He tackled Mathys Tel, then Alphonso Davies within seconds, with time for a lightning turn on the ball in between.

Union couldn’t have done much more. Gosens hit the most beautiful of volleys after 41 minutes with his left, letting the ball drop across him, and it took a brilliant flying stop from Neuer to fingertip it wide.

But then, with the half almost up, Aleksander Pavlovic went down cheaply under Tousart’s challenge 25 yards out of goal. Goretzka stepped over the free kick, leaving Kane to sweep it home at the near post.

Bjelica said later, "we played a disciplined game in the first half, had a good tactical approach and created our chances. It was very bitter to concede the two goals before the break.”

It was as cruel as could be.

Bayern turn the screw, Vertessen bags one back

The second half kicked off with big clouds of pink smoke hanging in the air, but the patterns of play were similar to the first. Bayern had the ball, but Tousart snapped into another challenge on Goretzka, setting Aaronson away on the break at pace. But within five minutes Bayern had extended their lead, Thomas Müller finding an inch of space in the box after Choupo-Moting’s cross, hitting the ball past a helpless Rönnow.

Union weren’t to be so easily cowed. Schäfer made a brilliant tackle on Pavlovic out on the left, before trying to find Gosens in the box. It then took Dier to stop Hollerbach as he was about to hit the byline to cross.

Bjelica changed everything though after that, rolling the dice, taking off Leite, Schäfer, Hollerbach and Trimmel for Aissa Laïdouni, Mikkel Kaufmann, Yorbe Vertessen and Josip Juranovic, switching to four at the back.

But it mattered little as immediately Tel scored, following Kane’s pass. Bayern were now coasting, and despite Vogt’s intervention on Müller, it was he who made it five with 25 minutes to play with a precise header. Tel then flashed over the bar from the tightest of angles. Union were on the ropes.

But still the crowd sung, the call and response of “we love you Union, we do,” echoing from the Waldseite to the Gegengerade and back again.

Bjelica’s final change came as Robin Knoche came on for Kevin Volland, and the back three returned. Rönnow brought out a diving stop at his left hand post before he made another, though more straight forward one, from substitute Nouassir Mazraoui, a minute later.

To the host’s credit they fought on, taking their lead now from the stands whose call and response of Eisern… Union, was enough to bring goosebumps to the most cynical of football fans.

Laïdouni found Vertessen with quarter of an hour to play, with the songs still raining down, never giving up, but his shot from tight on the right flew wide. Kaufmann flew into a tackle on Pavlovic, Gosens slid in to intercept Kane’s ball inside, and going the other way, Aaronson turned Pavlovic inside out, but his shot was lost in the crowd ahead of him. Vertessen and Aaronson again combined to find Kaufmann, but his shot was too close to Neuer to trouble the German stopper.

Kaufmann’s backheel from Laïdouni’s near post cross could only fly across goal, as Vertessen and Aaronson carved out another half chance with another bit of pace on the inside right. But by this point it was all over bar the shouting.

Union fought on. For their own pride, and for that of their unbelievable fans. Kaufmann conjured a corner; Neuer had to come out to punch another Juranović cross away to safety. Mazraoui had to time his slide perfectly to stop Vertessen. Then the roof came off.

When Vertessen finished past Neuer following a well worked throw-in routine to make it 5-1 it was almost as if they’d won the thing. Union had, at least, shown their character, to the bitterest of ends.

With the final whistle they cheered even louder, of their love and their pride and their club.

Christopher Trimmel was plain-speaking at the final whistle, saying, “after the changeover, we gave Bayern too much space, which they exploited to the hilt. That really hurts. But now the really important games are coming up and that's what we're focusing on."

But one thing is sure as Union look to Gladbach, they won’t give up easily.

"Of Course Football and Fear Don't go Together"

Match preview

Eisern Magazine - How would you describe your childhood in Horsens?

Frederik Rönnow - A very happy one. At the age of five or six I started playing football, but also basketball, tennis and handball, and all with great with great enthusiasm. The only thing my parents told me was that I had to get through school and learn an instrument. Which is no coincidence because my father is very musical and plays several instruments. I decided on the piano after trying the saxophone.

E.M. - That sounds like a family that was generally more interested in art and culture than football.

F.R. - Yes, that's true. My family is not a football family. And I was perhaps actually something like the black sheep, if you like (laughs). But at the end of the day, my two sisters and I always had the freedom to do what we enjoyed.

E.M. - Is there a head coach who has had a particular influence on you? Perhaps Alexander Zorniger, under whom you were the regular goalkeeper at Brøndby? Or Urs Fischer?

F.R. - There is no such thing. But you also have to say, if you've never been a goalkeeper, then you don't know what it's like, you don't necessarily have an understanding of goalkeeping. And in that respect, a lot has a lot has changed in recent years.

E.M. - To what extent?

F.R. - Just one example. The new law that a pass may be made to your own player in the penalty box from a goal kick means the goalkeeper is suddenly involved in a short passing game. That's a pressure situation that you have to adjust to. I've always been good at keeping the ball, but I never used to train my left foot or my first touch. In the meantime, now 40, maybe even 50 percent of my training consists of ball work with both feet.

E.M. - To counteract the fear of the next back pass?

F.R. - Football and fear don't go well together. I can only say for myself, but I'm never afraid on the pitch. That has a lot to do with your mindset. You can approach things defensively or offensively, and I used to be too defensive in that respect. Now I say to myself, okay, maybe you're making a mistake, but if you help your team in 19 out of 20 situations, it's good for everyone and you end up having a good game.

E.M. - That sounds like a lot of self-confidence in the in the truest sense of the word. How was your self-confidence during your time at Eintracht Frankfurt and Schalke 04?

F.R. - Whe I first came to Germany it was very difficult. I had always played in Denmark, was always number one and then of course you want to do it abroad, in a stronger league. I went to Frankfurt, but I was out again after a month and a half because Eintracht signed Kevin Trapp. In two years, I hardly played more than a dozen games there. I had to wait and wait, couldn't show what I could really do. That made me think. Things didn't go any better at Schalke, then we were relegated. I had a lot of a lot of stress back then.

E.M. - And how did you deal with it?

F.R. - I talked to my goalkeeping coach at the national team, Lars Høgh, who
unfortunately died of cancer just over two years ago, quite a lot. These conversations with a person who had become a friend of mine really helped me and changed my mindset. I realised that I wanted too much and that I shouldn't put so much pressure on myself. Conversely, that I should just enjoy football. And I actually managed to do that.

E.M. - Although you were only number two at Union behind Andreas Luthe - and had to wait again - what led to you being able to assert yourself in Köpenick after all?

F.R. - I had a conversation with our goalkeeping coach Michael Gspurning - and Michael knows exactly which conversation I mean. That was before the game against Bayern in the spring of 2021, after I hadn't played at Union for the first six or seven months. I didn't play against Bayern either, and had to go to the national team afterwards but knew that I had to change something now. And that's exactly what I talked to Michael about.

E.M. - Was it an argument?

F.R. - No, it wasn't, it was an honest and open conversation that led to the fact that I am now where I am. That was the point of no return. After that everything was different.

E.M. - You slipped into a major crisis with Union last Autumn. Everything that had worked before suddenly no longer did. How were you the only one whose personal performance wasn’t affected by the crisis?

F.R. - Football always has to do with self-confidence, with feeling good. And this good feeling was no longer there for me either. I think that I too wasn't flawless in this phase either, my performances weren't at the highest level.

E.M. - As goalkeepers, you are a team within a team. How did you how did you work in this team during the crisis?

F.R. - You can talk about this and that, about why things aren't why things aren't going well with the team at that moment. But we didn't do that. We wanted to concentrate on ourselves, on our job as goalkeepers. Gaining self-confidence by making big saves and so on. Yes, football is funny sometimes. You know what quality you have, but you don't know if that quality will come into play in the next 90 minutes. It doesn't matter whether you're Manuel Neuer or someone else.

E.M. - In the meantime, you even started dribbling past opposing strikers, as we saw in the game against Heidenheim, when you set up a goal with your courage to play with the ball.

F.R. - Dribbling is not necessarily for me, of course, and it certainly makes the heart beat a little faster. But I'm in the flow, I've been in good form for weeks. And then of course the games come with a different mentality.

E.M. - Where will you be on 24. July this year? And what will you be doing that day in the best-case scenario?

F.R. - That's the day the European Championship final takes place, right?

E.M. - Yes, and in Berlin too.

F.R. - Of course we want to get as far as possible. And a lot is possible for us.

This is an extract from Markus Lotter's interview which appears in the latest issue of Eisern Magazine, available in all good newsagents, and online in the Zeughaus. Our greatest thanks go to Markus, and to the editors. 

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1. FC Union Berlin vs FC Bayern München

36 % Possession 64 %
84 % Pass Completion Rate 92 %
49 % Successful Tackle Rate 51 %
15 Shots on Goal 19
19 Crosses 18
3 Caught Offside 2
0 Yellow Cards 0
0 Yellow-Red Cards 0
0 Red Cards 0

Last match

Date Home Result Away