VfL Wolfsburg vs 1. FC Union Berlin
Bundesliga, 25. Matchday
Wolfsburg vs 1. FC Union
Bundesliga, 25. Matchday
Union lose 0-1 in Wolfsburg
An own goal was the difference as 1. FC Union Berlin lost 1-0 at VfL Wolfsburg.
From a corner kick on 24 minutes, Taiwo Awoniyi's header went into the Union goal. But Urs Fischer's side took on the challenge and dominated the second half at the Volkswagen Arena.
Sheraldo Becker had the ball in the net after 55 minutes but referee Patrick Ittrich stepped in after an earlier infringement.
Wolfsburg: Casteels; Mbabu, Bornauw, Brooks, Roussilion; Arnold, Baku (Steffen 76), Schlager (Vrancx 64), Kruse (Gerhardt 85); Bialek (Nmecha 64), Wind
1. FC Union Berlin: Luthe; Ryerson, Oczipka, Knoche, Heintz (Öztunali 82), Baumgartl; Khedira (Ujah 82), Prömel, Haraguchi (Möhwald 64); Awoniyi (Michel 71), Becker (Voglsammer 71)
Following Tuesday's German Cup triumph at home to FC St. Pauli which secured Union's place in the semi-final of the tournament, Urs Fischer dipped as expected into the squad to freshen things up. The Köpenick club made four changes for the trip to Wolfsburg – Andreas Luthe, Bastian Oczipka, Dominique Heintz, Julian Ryerson all started at the Volkswagen Arena. Solidarity continued to be shown with those affected by war this week ahead of Bundesliga matches and both teams took a moment to support peace and freedom before kick-off. At the start of the game, Wolfsburg pressed home their dominance with Max Kruse, Union's former player, almost setting up Bartosz Bialek on two minutes. Seconds later, midfielder Xavier Schlager smashed a left-foot shot from 25 yards off Andreas Luthe's left-hand post. After quite the start from the Wolves, Union showed nerves of steel to settle the match down. Genki Haraguchi pushed on from midfield but fired well over the bar despite the promising shooting opportunity in the fourth minute. The Japanese midfielder cut open the Wolfsburg defence to send Grischa Prömel through on the Wolfsburg goal, but Kevin Mbabu came across to make an important block. From the resulting corner kick, Koan Casteels was forced into a save which he didn't know too much about. Bastian Oczipka delivered with zip, Prömel won the first contact at the front-post but Dominique Heintz's header landed straight at the door of the Wolfsburg captain. These were opportunities which could have quite easily put Union into the driving seat, giving them a cushion to play with for the 90 minutes. The 12th-placed team from Lower Saxony pushed up the gears and forced their dominance on Union. Bialek dribbled inside from the left on 21 minutes, forcing a tremendous stop from Luthe as the ball looked set to crash high into the net. Three minutes later, Maximilian Arnold dropped a cross towards the back post and it looked set to find the corner, if not for Luthe's fast reactions. The Union number one couldn't do anything about the opener on 24 minutes as Arnold's corner was headed in by Taiwo Awoniyi. Baku threatened from the right on 29 minutes but Luthe again tipped over another goalbound cross from the home side. Once Union had shut up shop at the back, the onus was on Fischer's side to build on the last two good home results with five goals in total. However, Wolfsburg managed to keep Union at bay with Rani Khedira's effort on 40 minutes as good as it got for the Köpenick club.
A strong reaction was needed after the interval – and the 2,500 travelling Union supporters got it. The Berliners stepped up the speed, the quality around the box and the attacking intent. As Union took the game more to Wolfsburg, the gaps started to open in Kohlfeld's team. Robin Knoche headed wide from a corner kick on 50 minutes as the box was peppered with crosses from both Ryerson and Oczipka. A decisive moment of the match arrived five minutes later when Taiwo Awoniyi set up Sheraldo Becker for a smart finish past Casteels. However, Ittrich blew up for a foul against the Nigerian on Maxi Arnold in the lead-up to his assist. Awoniyi tried his luck to score at the right end but a header on 61 minutes was well-saved by the Belgian goalkeeper. Kevin Möhwald was introduced for Haraguchi on 64 minutes following an industrious performance from the Japan international who scored last week against Mainz. Six minutes later, Union freshened up the front pair with Andreas Voglsammer and Sven Michel taking up the places of Awoniyi and Becker. Substitute Möhwald crashed a volley wide from the edge of box on 75 minutes. As Union committed more to attack, there were opportunities for the home side to kill the contest. Lukas Nmecha came off the bench and was a nuisance with his presence and aggression. Goalkeeper Luthe, though, stepped up to the mark on 79 minutes to make a vital block against the German international. The final 10 minutes was all-out attack from Union and with a little more luck, the equaliser would have come. Anthony Ujah and Levin Öztunali offered their services with eight minutes to play at the Volkswagen Arena. Both Voglsammer and Ujah missed good chances a few minutes apart from each other, while on 88 minutes a terrific strike from Ujah was parried clear by Casteels but Voglsammer volleyed wide. It came down to stoppage time with Luthe also joining the attack for the final opportunities at corner kicks, but the German Cup hero of the last two rounds Voglsammer passed up a good chance in the second minute of stoppage time to equalise. Despite the defeat, it was a fine Union performance with chances aplenty in the second half but ultimately the Köpenick club left Lower Saxony without any points.
Union go on the road to Wolfsburg
1. FC Union Berlin will hope to build on the last two victories in league and cup action when they go to VfL Wolfsburg on Saturday afternoon.
Review – The last match:
Union are in the hat for Sunday's DFB Pokal semi-final draw following a 2-1 win over FC St. Pauli at the Stadion An der Alten Försterei. The side from Hamburg managed to pull off a shock lead through Daniel-Kofi Kyereh's free-kick on 21 minutes. Union showed character to take control of the game from there on and the resolve was rewarded when Sheraldo Becker looped in the equaliser on the stroke of half-time. Union regrouped and went on the hunt for the winning goal immediately after the restart. Andreas Voglsammer came off the bench midway through the half and went through to score the decisive goal on 75 minutes to send Union into the last four of the competition.
Wolfsburg – Opposition Report:
Florian Kohlfeldt's side are settled in the middle of the Bundesliga pack. Wolfsburg are five points clear of the relegation play-off position but are 12 points off reaching the top six this season. The former Werder coach has managed to get a tune of his squad in recent weeks with two wins and a draw from their last five games. Despite going 2-0 ahead at Borussia Mönchengladbach, the Wolves dropped two points with a second-half stumble as the match finished 2-2. Max Kruse has made an impression since leaving Union for Wolfsburg in January, the forward has scored one in four in a 2-0 win at Eintracht Frankfurt.
Wolfsburg – The coach's view:
Fischer: "If you look at their last four games, they've drawn, won two and narrowly lost. We've done our analysis on Wolfsburg. They are a very well-organised team who don't give much away. They play off second balls and look to go through the lines. They play from middle to wide where they have speed and also a presence in the box. They aren't doing too badly at all."
Urs Fischer confirmed in the pre-match press conference that Keita Endo, Andras Schäfer and Laurenz Dehl remain unavailable for selection. Schäfer took part in training yesterday for players who weren't involved on Tuesday and is doing well, according to the coach.
1. FC Union Berlin will travel to the Volkswagen Arena and 2,775 tickets have been made available for travelling supporters.
2G rules are in place for Lower Saxony and these rules can be found here.