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Slavia Prague vs 1. FC Union Berlin

UEFA Conference League, 1. Group match

Slavia vs 1. FC Union

UEFA Conference League, 1. Group match

Thu., 16. September 2021, 18:45 Uhr
Sinobo Stadium
3 : 1
15.286
SR: Fábio Veríssimo

Late goals defeat resilient Union in Prague

Match report

Slavia Prague scored two late goals to take all three points against 1. FC Union Berlin in the opening Group E match of the UEFA Europa Conference League.

With Union a man down after Paul Jaeckel's dismissal in the 40th minute and a goal down, Urs Fischer's team showed resilience to bounce back and level. Kevin Behrens came off the bench to score the decisive equaliser for the Köpenick club, cancelling out the opener from Alexander Bah. But the ten players were beaten at the death by two goals for the Czech champions: a goal from Jan Kuchta and one from Ivan Schranz.

Slavia: Mandous; Bah, Ousou, Kacharaba (Takacs 53), Dorley; Traore, Ekapl, Masopust, Sevcik, Lingr (Stanciu 68); Teci (Kuchta 53)

: Luthe; Trimmel, Jaeckel, Friedrich, Knoche, Puchacz (Ryerson 86); Khedira (Prömel 58), Öztunali (Becker 58), Haraguchi; Awoniyi (Voglsammer 58), Kruse (Behrens 58)

With around 4,000 fans in attendance, Union were fully backed for Thursday’s opening Group E encounter at Czech champions Slavia Prague. Urs Fischer’s selection featured a return for Tymoteusz Puchacz in place of Niko Gießelmann while Paul Jaeckel came in for Timo Baumgartl in the three-man defensive group. Genki Haraguchi was substituted on after 22 minutes against Augsburg on Saturday, but was handed the starting berth with Kevin Möhwald missing through injury. Germany’s representatives in the inaugural UEFA Europa Conference League started on the front foot and could have been ahead after three minutes. A bouncing ball in the penalty box was missed by three Union players before Kruse slammed the ball wide of the target. Slavia’s championship victory meant they started the campaign in the UEFA Champions League, but defeats to Ferencvaros saw them tumble into the UEFA Europa League. A narrow loss to Legia Warsaw brings Slavia into UEFA’s new competition for European football, but it’s clear the Czechs have quality and experience through their squad. Both Lukas Masopust and Petr Sevcik could have given the home fans something to celebrate early on. Portuguese referee Fabio Verissimo was card happy in the opening stages, booking Jaeckel in the third minute and controversially Taiwo Awoniyi. The spice in the match suited the home side who took the lead after 19 minutes. A corner kick for the Czech side was cleared only as far as Alexander Bah who sweeped the ball past Andreas Luthe from the edge of the area. Slavia continued to push Union back as Stanislav Taci shot wide on 25 minutes. On 33 minutes, Urs Fischer’s team created a really good opportunity to score – Robin Knoche’s searching ball found Max Kruse, with the Union number 10 cutting back for Awoniyi but the Nigerian striker was an inch away from turning the ball home. Referee Verissimo went to his pocket again on 40 minutes and showed Jaeckel a second booking to cut Union’s numbers down to 10.

The second 45 minutes in wet conditions were always going to put extra load on Union's players. Ibrahim Traore could have rubbed salt into the wounds within the first minute of the half. Verissimo had no choice but to make an abrupt stoppage to the game following a knock to Taras Karabacha. The Slavia central defender was down for several minutes and stretchered off having suffered a head collision. Union gathered themselves after the restart and took control. Rani Khedira added to his midfield contribution by getting into the opposition box on 54 minutes but the strike didn’t threaten Slavia despite Union’s improving performance. Union thought they had equalised on 57 minutes when Kruse drew the ball back for Awoniyi but the assistant referee flagged for offside. The resulting stoppage in play saw Union turn to the bench with some decisive action: four changes to power the team for the last 20 minutes. Fischer introduced Kevin Behrens, Andreas Voglsammer, Grischa Prömel and Sheraldo Becker in place of Kruse, Awoniyi, Öztunali and Rani Khedira. On 68 minutes, with the fans in excellent voice, Union’s resolve prevailed. Volgsammer linked with Becker whose pace won him a yard off Oscar Dorley, the cross giving Behrens the simple task of scoring Union’s first of the group stages. A second half performance full of character and guts wouldn't pay off in the end as the 10 players in Union's black shirt dealt with a combination of fatigue and bad luck. Slavia's second goal on 84 minutes was a long-range strike from Nicolai Stanciu, which deflected incredibly into the path of Jan Kuchta who finished from about seven yards out. The third, two minutes later, came from an awkward strike from Ivan Schranz which caught Andreas Luthe out in difficult conditions. The two decisive goals rounded off a difficult night for Union with a lot of bad luck going against the Bundesliga side in 90 minutes.

Union head to Czech champions Slavia Prague

Match preview

1. FC Union Berlin's first group stage match in the UEFA Europa Conference League will take Urs Fischer's side to the Czech champions Slavia Prague on Thursday at 18:45 CEST.

Review: The last match

Union added another point to the tally for the season at home to Augsburg and maintained the unbeaten start to the Bundesliga campaign. Urs Fischer's side created opportunities to take maximum points with three strikes against the woodwork, while Rafal Gikiewicz was in fine form against his former club. In the early stages, Niko Gießelmann headed straight at the Augsburg goalkeeper and clipped the post with a powerful long-range strike. While Union's former promotion-winning goalkeeper was impressive at one end, the Köpenick club had Andreas Luthe to thank at the other side. Luthe was named in the Team of the Week for the Bundesliga this weekend after making a string of important stops. Luthe's most impressive intervention was an incredible reflex save to stop Sergio Cordova from sending Augsburg into the lead. Marvin Friedrich headed off the crossbar in the second half as Union piled on the pressure while Andreas Voglsammer was denied by Gikiewicz and struck himself off the woodwork. 

Slavia Prague: Opposition Report

Slavia Prague have won the Czech league championship for the past three seasons. Under the stewardship of coach Jindrich Trpisovsky, Slavia have won three titles and three cups, while making impressive gains in European competition. One campaign in the UEFA Champions League sits between two seasons with appearances in the groups of the UEFA Europa League. Last season, Slavia progressed into the knockout stages from a group featuring Bayer Leverkusen, OGC Nice and Hapoel Be'er Sheva. Slavia beat Leicester and Rangers before going out in the last eight to Arsenal.

As league champions, Slavia were aiming to return to the UEFA Champions League this term but the Czechs have suffered some knocks along the way. In the qualifiers for Europe's premier club tournament, Ferencvaros ran out winners over two legs. After dropping down to the UEFA Europa League qualifiers, Slavia were beaten by Polish heavyweights Legia Warsaw. They will have a third opportunity at group stage European football when they join Union, Feyenoord and Maccabi Haifa in the newly-founded UEFA Europa Conference League. 

Slavia are third in their domestic league, collecting 16 points from a possible 18. With one game less played, they trail Viktoria Plzen and Sparta Prague after six matches. At the start of October, Slavia and Sparta will go head-to-head in a crucial league derby for both teams.

Slavia Prague: The coach's view

Urs Fischer said: "We're now in the group stages and we will enjoy the games. The first challenge though is Slavia and we will be thinking from game to game. Of course, I'm looking forward to the matches. Slavia are a team that create chances and they had enough chances against Ferencvaros and Legia to win those matches. They lacked a bit of efficiency in those matches. They have pace and individual quality to decide games. This will be an interesting challenge for us. For Slavia, the whole team is keen to play. It starts from the defenders and finishes at the strikers. Stanciu is the most creative player, while Traore is reliable for bringing the balance. He's very important. Plavsic and Ekpal also are dangerous on the wings."

Personnel

Kevin Möhwald made his 1. FC Union Berlin debut on Saturday, but suffered a knock and had to be substituted in the 22nd minute. The midfielder is still recovering, but encouragingly could be available for Sunday's Bundesliga match at Borussia Dortmund. Fischer said the entire European squad was nearly fully-fit for Thursday's game with Grischa Prömel making his first steps in action in the draw at home to Augsburg.

Service

At the Sinobo Stadium/Eden Arena, it is important to have the Print@Home ticket in paper form. A digital copy or confirmation will not get you access to the ground. All fans in attendance must have proof of vaccination or a negative test (PCR, 72h until end of the game) in QR Form.

Please be aware of the travel regulations in the Czech Republic.

Please observe the following information for travelling supporters to Prague. 

 

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MatchStatistics

Slavia Prague vs 1. FC Union Berlin

70 % Possession 30 %
88 % Pass Completion Rate 68 %
53 % Successful Tackle Rate 47 %
15 Shots on Goal 5
4 Crosses 12
4 Caught Offside 1
3 Yellow Cards 2
0 Yellow-Red Cards 1
0 Red Cards 0