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VfL Wolfsburg vs 1. FC Union Berlin

Bundesliga, 24. Matchday

Wolfsburg vs 1. FC Union

Bundesliga, 24. Matchday

Sun., 12. March 2023, 19:30 Uhr
Volkswagen Arena
1 : 1
23.554
SR: Robert Schröder

Union Take a Point From Wolfsburg

Match report

Union were denied a first ever win at the Volkswagen Arena after Patrik Wimmer's deflected equaliser. But they were deserving of their point, won through Josip Juranovic's penalty, and are back to fourth place in the Bundesliga table

VfL Wolfsburg: Casteels – Fischer (82. Paredes), Bornauw, van de Ven, Paulo Otávio (82. Kaminski) – F. Nmecha, Guilavogui, Gerhardt (82. Baku) – Svanberg (82. Wimmer), Wind (64. L. Nmecha), Marmoush

1. FC Union Berlin: Rönnow – Juranović, Doekhi (63. Baumgartl), Knoche, Leite, Gießelmann (62. Roussillon) – Thorsby, Khedira (63. Seguin), Laïdouni (77. Haberer) – Becker (84. Behrens), Michel

Attendance: 23.554

Goals: 0:1 Juranović (72.), 1:1 Wimmer (84.)

Though spoiled for choice, Fischer knows about the past

Union had never before won at the Volkswagen Arena. They hadn’t even scored a goal there before, and the balance was miserable, looking at it was like reading the score for a binary waltz. 1-0, 2-0, 3-0.

But, while having scored six in their last two European fixtures, Union's biggest worry was that they were without a goal in two in the Bundesliga, so would be happy with a hard won point for themselves, and happy for Josip Juranovic, who capped his goals against Ajax and Saint-Gilles, with an unstoppable penalty here.

Urs Fischer had said in advance, that their goals-for column was okay, that Union had been creating the chances; they just had to believe in themselves, to keep on pushing. As he said afterwards that the point was more than deserved.

Before kick off Fischer was taken back to what he always calls the “Qual der Wahl”, finding himself spoiled for choice with the return of his left-backs Jerome Rousillon and Niko Giesselmann to Bundesliga business. He had restored Juranovic to the right in place of Christopher Trimmel, installed Giesselmann on the left, and decided on the dynamic duel whirling dervishes in midfield of Morten Thorsby and Aissa Laidouni.

Sven Michel, meanwhile, had been repaid for his last minute equaliser, the finishing moments of a wild and exciting night against Saint-Gilles on Thursday, with a place up front alongside Sheraldo Becker.

Wolfsburg with the better chances, but a goalless first half

Laidouni robbed Joshua Guilavogui immediately on the left as Union showed their intent from kick off. He tried a volley from the edge of the box a moment later, but sliced it, the ball flying to Juranovic, advancing down the inside right, as if he had meant to switch the ball all along. His consequent cross was just too high for Michel.

But Wolfsburg were already looking to crowd the midfield, to starve Union of the oxygen they need to break, just as Saint-Gilles had done, as Köln had done, and as Schalke had done before them. However, Becker broke on the right after only five minutes and hit a dangerous, bending cross that Michel could not get hold of to shoot. It was spicy, too. Rani Khedira got an early yellow card for a lunge on Felix Nmecha. Sebastiaan Bornauw was lucky not get another for a lunge on Michel.

Guilavogui then dispossessed Aissa Laidouni and marched through midfield, it took all Thorsby had to stop him in his tracks from behind. He got a yellow for his troubles as well.

The Wolfsburg free kick was 25 yards out, and Matthias Svanberg hit it with superb technique over the wall, it dipped wickedly, but crashed off a wrong-footed Freddie Rönnow’s bar and away to safety. He smacked another into the wall just after 20 minutes. It took Rönnow to dive at the feet of the luckless Omar Marmoush to stop him a moment later.

After 20 minutes, Wolfsburg were in the ascendancy.

Marmoush skipped past Knoche, and Svanberg went down in the box after a 50-50 with Giesselmann. Jonas Wind somehow pulled back a cross with his heel that worked its way to Paulo Otavio who skewed his shot well wide.

The game went back and forth. Laidouni skipped inside, exchanged a one-two with Thorsby and let off a shot with the minimum of backlift from the edge of the box that almost caught Casteels off guard. The keeper did well to get down to claim the shot.

But there were worrying signs for Union as Marmoush skipped past a lunging Doekhi, the Dutchman seeming to pull up in the challenge, clutching his calf. One of Union’s remarkable strengths this year had been in their fitness levels, in the relentless nature by which they have ridden every challenge, every knock, and always come back. Doekhi came back on, if a little gingerly. Giesselmann was off, too, with five minutes to go of the half. However, he too returned, a grimace on his face.

And Doekhi was, after all, fit enough for a typical driving run up through the middle with 35 minutes played. He often does that, there is something of the former English centre-half Sol Campbell about him at times, when he has the ball and he sights a gap opening up ahead of him to charge into.

But the biggest chance of the half came for the hosts as the dangerous Marmoush skipped around Knoche, having been set up after a misplaced Diogo Leite pass that looked worryingly reminiscent of Thursday evening. He had only Rönnow to beat - and looked certain to - but somehow hit his shot wide of the back post, having set himself, having all the time in the world to pick his spot. He would flash a shot just wide of the near post from a far tighter angle just afterwards.

Union could consider themselves lucky going into half-time goalless

Juranovic buries his penalty; Wimmer sees his shot deflected and in

Union tried to up the pace immediately from kick off; Leite won a corner, Giesselmann a free kick, Laidouni bustled into the box and was stopped only by the attentions of three Wolfsburg defenders, and Becker found Michel with a glorious, delicate flick of his heels.

Becker then watched a ball drop over his shoulder before hitting a right-footed volley just wide of the back post. He screwed his face in furstration. He punched the ball into the turf. Though he hasn't scored in 12 games now, he should give himself a break. Fischer starts him because he knows the goal will come.  At the other end, Marmoush and Gerhardt watched agonisingly as neither could quite get on the end of a ball in the Union box as Thorsby bustled around them and Rönnow cleaned up.

Marmoush saw another header, this one diving, well saved by Rönnow on the hour, the keeper diving to his near post to palm the attempt wide of the post after he had just got in front of Leite. Rönnow was again magnificent, making three or four stops that kept Union in the game.

There were Union players flagging, and Fischer could see it. He took off Giesselmann, Doekhi and a Khedira who has run more than most in the league this year in like-for–like changes for Rousillon, Timo Baumgartl and Paul Seguin.

Maybe it was with an eye on Thursday, for the second leg in Europe, or next Sunday against Eintracht, or even when Union face Frankfurt again in the Cup. Maybe they were just done. The schedule shows no let up, no remorse for the victims of their own success.

After an hour and a bit, the ever-reliable Seguin did well to stop Wolfsburg breaking at pace down the middle almost immediately after coming on, as danger loomed and Laidouni hared back into position over 40 yards.

Union's goal came as Laidouni went down under the late challenge of Guilavogui in the box, he’d caught him on the ankle, his studs flashing, and the referee immediately pointed to the spot. Juranovic stood up and hit the penalty hard and straight. He gave Casteels no chance. Union were in the lead and you could hear their over two and a half thousand fans from all the way back in Berlin.

But it wasn't over. Rönnow still needed to save at the feet of a Marmoush who was wondering now what on Earth he needed to get on the score sheet. He was excellent, Rönnow, just as he has been all year. His stop from Jakub Kaminski just before the final whistle was the encapsulation of his his unfussy nature and utter reliability, he has a way of making his job look so easy at times.

Which is why he looked so hurt when Wolfsburg hit back, a huge slice of luck involved as Patrick Wimmer hit a shot from the edge of the box with the outside of his boot. It looked a little ungainly, but took a flick in the box, leaving Rönnow stunned, the ball rolling under his outstretched right hand.

He pounded the ground in frustration in the box almost as soon as the ball hit the back of the net. Robin Knoche said after the final whistle, he had no idea how it happened. Fischer said that there were too many defenders watching him shoot, but also that it had been unlucky.

These things can happen, he said. They were both right.

Thorsby had time to make a superb block from a Wimmer cross, as Wolfsburg were now playing the ball about with ease on the edge of the Union box. Juranovic stood up, Leite got in front of Marmoush. Kevin Behrens, on for Becker, came back and won the ball off Guilavogui and tried to spring Michel free on the break.

At the final whistle, the Union players looked stunned, but there was little of complaint, just a hint of sadness at the vicissitudes of these footballing emotions. Michel said that the result was probably fair, and he was right. Union were still in the top four, after all, and looking forward to a second leg in Brussels on Thursday.

It was their first ever point in Wolfsburg. Sometimes you just need to remember just how far you have come.

Late Shift in the Autostadt

Match preview

1. FC Union Berlin travel to play VfL Wolfsburg on Sunday, 12.03.2023, in the 24th match of the Bundesliga season. Kick off at the Volkswagen Arena is at 19:30.

The lie of the land

Wolfsburg have been utterly unpredictable this season. Their start was somewhat mixed, with only one win from their first seven games. But then, following the international break at the end of September, they were on fire, picking up 23 points out of a possible 30.

From the middle of October they won six games on the bounce with a goal difference of 22-1, propelling themselves from 12th up to 7th place in the table, allowing the hopes of European competition next year to grow perceptibly. However, the winning streak came to a halt as their form slumped again, their 2-0 win over FC Köln a fortnight ago being their first win in a month.

They are currently in 8th place in the table, but with 34 points they still harbour those European thoughts.

Union, on the other hand, have become a byword for consistency, having still lost only once in 2023, that being the 3-0 defeat in Munich a fortnight ago. While Wolfsburg have sat out all European competition, Union head coach Urs Fischer's team hosted Royale Union Saint-Gilloise on Thursday evening in the first leg of the the Europa League last 16 tie. Union travel hopefully to Anderlecht to play the second leg next week, after coming from behind three times during the furious 3-3 draw at the Alte Försterei

The opponents

Wolfsburg have only ever beaten Union when playing them at the at the Volkswagen Arena, and, indeed, have done so without conceding even a single goal (they've won 1-0, 3-0 and 2-0). This follows a pattern, the spoils in every one of the last five matches between the sides have gone to the home team. This includes January's DFB Pokal last 16 tie, which Union won 2-1.

VfL goalkeeper Koen Casteels and front man Micky van de Ven have proved themselves undroppable, and are two of only eight players across the whole league to have played every minute of every game so far. Both are absolutely key to the Berlin born coach Niko Kovac's system, as is midfielder and top scorer Yannik Gerhardt (six goals), who will be playing his 200th competitive game for VfL on Sunday.

Captain Maximilian Arnold is suspended for Sunday's match after receiving his 5th yellow card against Eintracht Frankfurt.

The reunions

Four former Wolves are wearing the Union jersey this season. Robin Knoche, Paul Jaeckel, Paul Seguin and winter newcomer Jérôme Roussillon have made a total of 717 appearances for them.

The personnel

Apart from Andras Schäfer, the whole Union squad is fit and ready.

The coaches' views ahead of the game

"Games in Wolfsburg are always tough ones, in which small things make the difference,"said Union head coach Urs Fischer in his Saturday afternoon press conference. "VfL are a very strong team that likes to put pressure upon their opponents. They often push up and their transitions are not to be underestimated. Our game on Thursday showed that we have to be careful in such situations. That's why I'm expecting a tough game against a good team tomorrow as well."

Meanwhile Wolfsburg coach Kovac said he sees Union as being a tough opponent and was full of praise for the way Union have developed in recent years: "Against Union it is very difficult to create chances, and you can't make any mistakes against them. Because once they're in front, it's difficult to win against Union. Their development is definitely a pointer to everyone else what you can achieve with good, hard work."

Service info

A good 2,700 Unioners will be in attendance in Wolfsburg, there will be no away tickets available on site. Further information on how to get there and for stadium attendance can be found here (in German).

The match will be broadcast live on DAZN and, as usual, Union will also provide information on the match on the club's own live ticker, as well as in English on Twitter. In addition, there will be an audio stream on rbb24 Inforadio and on www.rbb24.de.

AFTV Videos

Frederik Rønnow

Frederik Rønnow

was Player of the Day for the last time against Wolfsburg

Frederik Rønnow

was Player of the Day against Wolfsburg

MatchStatistics

VfL Wolfsburg vs 1. FC Union Berlin

58 % Possession 42 %
78 % Pass Completion Rate 71 %
62 % Successful Tackle Rate 38 %
15 Shots on Goal 12
11 Crosses 13
1 Caught Offside 1
1 Yellow Cards 4
0 Yellow-Red Cards 0
0 Red Cards 0

Last match

Date Home Result Away