1. FC Union Berlin lost 3-0 to a thoroughly convincing Bayern Munich on Sunday evening in the Bavarian snow. The goals came all in the first half from Eric Choupo-Moting, Kingsley Coman and Jamal Musiala.
FC Bayern München: Sommer – Stanisic (78. Cancelo), Pavard, de Ligt, Davies – Kimmich (78. Sané), Goretzka – Coman (65. Mané), Müller (87. Tel), Musiala – Choupo-Moting (65. Gnabry)
1. FC Union Berlin: Rönnow – Trimmel, Doekhi, Knoche, Leite, Roussillon (66. Gießelmann) – Laïdouni, Khedira (78. Haberer), Thorsby (63. Seguin) – Becker (63. Leweling), Siebatcheu (63. Behrens)
Goals: 1:0 Choupo-Moting (31.), 2:0 Coman (40.), 3:0 Musiala (45.+1)
Urs Fischer was glowing in his assessments of FC Bayern in his press conference on Saturday afternoon. He said they were best side in the country, he said that in Thomas Müller they had a player of inimitable skill, and that he was only one of many. As a matter of note, Müller had played against Union in the third division for Bayern II, a lifetime and more ago.
He had said that Union would need to be at their absolute best to get something out of this game, but then it was easy to think, well, he always says that, despite the fact that his side hadn't lost all year.
This time, however, he had been correct in some of his assumptions. Bayern swarmed over Union, particularly in the first half, attacking from both flanks, pushing and pulling Union down the middle. They played neat, technical football at pace and they pressed high and hard up the pitch. There was little Union could do to stop them, they were all too often chasing shadows.
Maybe something had to give. Fischer had also said that at times like this Bayern are at their most dangerous; when they feel their backs are to the wall.
He had made three changes to the side who secured that historic win against Ajax in midweek; Morten Thorsby replaced Janik Haberer, enabling Aissa Laidouni to switch to the left hand side of midfield. At right back came captain Christopher Trimmel, up front Jordan Siebatcheu came in for Kevin Behrens.
Union chastened in the snow, Bayern score three
A blizzard blew in from nowhere just before kick off. Maybe it was a sign, Fischer’s silhouette was clear, all in black against a suddenly white pitch, marked with the path of the ball like tracer bullets in the sky.
After five minutes of patient Bayern play, of Union standing off, watching carefully to see what would come, Eric Choupo-Moting suddenly found himself with space in the box. He squared to Thomas Müller but he could not get the ball out from under his studs in time to squeeze off a shot. Davies then tried to jink his way past Trimmel from the left. Leon Goretzka robbed Robin Knoche as he made his way through the centre circle.
Knoche hoicked clear after Joshua Kimmich, Thomas Müller and Goretzka played their way through Union’s back line. Bayern were swarming forwards. Jamal Musiala shot wide when he had time to pick a spot. Union had been warned.
But after 15 minutes, Union had their first breakthrough. They weren’t chanceless. Knoche found Laidouni. He ran bullishly twenty long metres, shrugging off Goretzka as he went, laying the ball off for Jerome Rousillon on the left. His shot was charged down. Bayern came back. Knoche snuck in just in time to clear off the toes of Jamal Musiala.
Rönnow punched clear from Müller, after Kingsley Coman had drifted inside. The keeper then leaped onto Musiala’s low, short, fizzing cross into the box. Union were hanging on in places, but the head of Diogo Leite, the timing of Knoche, the presence of Danilho Doekhi and the skill of Rönnow was just enough to hold the Bavarians at bay time and time and time again.
After 20 minutes Becker hit a flat, cross-field ball to Rousillon, but Union pulled themselves back, closing up the spaces and kept the ball for a moment. They gradually moving upfield, winning a corner on the right. They would need all that patience as the half wore on.
Aissa Laidouni’s flick over Kimmich’s head on the edge of his own box showed his skill, Khedira, lying flat on the floor following a challenge, gesticulated towards a breaking Jordan, showing his fight.
But it felt the dam had to break at some point. There were too many attacks to repel from all sides, from Musiala on the left, Coman on the right, Müller drifting like the snows into whatever gaps he could find.
He broke again and crossed where Choupo-Moting timed his jump perfectly, putting his header towards the top corner, well past Rönnow’s despairing left hand. It was 1-0 for Bayern.
Union strived to drag themselves back into the game as they have so often this season when finding themselves behind. Laidouni volleyed Becker’s cross over from the edge of the box after 35 minutes.
But Bayern made it two with five minutes to go of the half. Thomas Müller with the cleverest of flicks as the ball dropped over his shoulder, finding Coman on the charge through the middle, all alone. He rounded Rönnow with ease and finished with his right from the angle.
It would become three with almost the final kick of the half, Müller again on the overlap, stretching to cut back a ball with precision to Musiala who scored without thought as he raced into the box. Fischer said after the game that he was annoyed by the second and third goals, that Union were at times too passive. But he was also full of praise for what his side had achieved thus far. Whatever the case, it had certainly been a chastening half.
Fischer rings the changes, Union come closer but remain scoreless
The second half began much as the first had. Bayern with the ball, Union backed up in their own half. It took a combination of Rönnow’s foot and Doekhi’s head to clear Coman’s shot from the inside left channel. Two minutes later he chose to cut the ball back inside to Musiala who shot over this time.
The snow came back, blowing in flurries as Khedira was chased back twenty yards by Choupo-Moting.
Union never gave up. Trimmel hit a clever free kick, springing Becker behind the wall, winning a corner. It eventually wound its way out to Becker whose chipped ball into the box was caught by Jan Sommer on the third attempt.
Finally the Unioner thought they had something to celebrate on the hour, but Sommer clawed Becker’s wickedly deflected shot around the post. It was a brief respite. Rönnow saved at his near post from Müller, Goretzka’s header was flicked wide.
Despite it all the Unioner sung from the corner up in the roof of this cavernous stadium, outsinging the sold out stadium. they were magnificent.
Fischer made three changes after that, bringing on Kevin Behrens, Paul Seguin and Jamie Leweling on his birthday, for Becker, Jordan and Thorsby after an hour. Julian Nagelsmann meanwhile brought on Leroy Sane and Serge Gnabry, and they’d be joined by Joao Cancelo and Leroy Sane, a sign of the embarrassment of riches they have on show here in Munich.
Mane stepped over the ball in the box, once, twice, then laid it off for Müller whose shot was flicked over the bar by Rönnow. Gnabry drove just wide from distance. With fifteen minutes to go – and Rousillon off, injured, replaced by Niko Giesselmann – Bayern were knocking the ball around, in complete control of the match. The stadium started to empty, but still the Unioner sang and sang and sang. Refusing to give up, despite the cold, despite the score.
Leweling sparkled briefly, winning a corner, but that was headed well clear, as they had been all day long.
Khedira spoke afterwards of the the cost of everything they’d given over the last week taking its toll, and it’s impossible to think it hadn’t. And though Union fought on to the final whistle, it just wasn’t to be their day.