Wow! We got an early bird here!

Bjelica's Debut on the Bundesliga Bench

Union Take on Gladbach

Fri, 08. December 2023
Bjelica's Debut on the Bundesliga Bench

Following their postponed match away at FC Bayern München, 1. FC Union Berlin will re-start their Bundesliga season on Saturday, 9. December 2023 when they host Borussia Mönchengladbach. Kick off at the Stadion An der Alten Försterei is at 15:30.

The lie of the land

Under coach Gerardo Seoane, Gladbach had a bumpy start to the season, only picking up their first three points on matchday 6 with a 3-1 win in Bochum. Their form has only improved, however, and they are unbeaten in six of their last seven matches. This upsurge was crowned with last weekend’s narrow 2-1 league win over TSG Hoffenheim and the extra time 1-0 victory over VfL Wolfsburg.

The opponents

Following a professional career that saw him, apart from a couple of years in Spain, playing mostly in his native Switzerland, Seoane initially worked in the youth section of FC Luzern before taking over the first team in January 2018. A few months later, he joined Young Boys Bern where the now 45-year-old won the Super League championship three times in a row. His first stop abroad was Bayer 04 Leverkusen, where was on the touchlines between July 2021 and October 2022, before finally joining Gladbach this summer. 

Seoane’s coaching team also includes 69-time German international Oliver Neuville, with the multilingual 2006 World Cup striker being responsible not only for the integration of new arrivals from abroad. "You can still see his finishing quality in training today," said right winger Franck Honorat recently. But it is the Frenchman who Union would be right to be wary of. With six assists to his one goal, the Frenchman is the second most dangerous attacker for the foals. Only Alassane Pléa, who has scored six goals and provided three assists in 13 Bundesliga games, has better figures. Remarkably Pléa has scored at least once in all of Gladbach's victories this season. 

The reunion

Former Union player Marvin Friedrich joined Gladbach in January 2022, having previously been under contract in Köpenick for three-and-a-half years. The centre-back played a key role in the club's promotion in the 2018/19 season, when he played in all 34 2. Liga matches and scored the important equaliser in the play-off first leg against VfB Stuttgart to make it 2-2. 

Jordan Siebatcheu, who has made 44 appearances for Union to date, is also on loan to Mönchengladbach this season, though he will not be back at the Alte Försterei on Saturday as the striker is suffering from a torn muscle fibre and will be out until the end of the year. 

The head to head

The two clubs met for the first time in February 2001 when in a legendary DFB Pokal semi-final, when Union, at that time still a Regionalliga club, sensationally beat Hans Meyer’s Gladbach on penalties to reach the final. Since then, Union have lost only one of the subsequent eight meetings and are still unbeaten by them at the Stadion An der Alten Försterei.

The personnel

Sheraldo Becker and Danilho Doekhi will not be available on Saturday due to injury. 

The coaches' views ahead of the game

"Gladbach are opponents in good form at the moment and have had two recent successes,” said Union’s head coach, Nenad Bjelica ahead of his first ever game on the bench in the Bundesliga. “We'll have to play at our top level to win on Saturday. The lads have worked very hard and very well this week. I hope that tomorrow - with the support of the fans - we can put everything we've trained into practice. I'm really looking forward to my first home game and to a full stadium."

"When a new coach comes in, there's always a change, a shake-up,” said his opposite number Seoane, meanwhile. “We have prepared for different scenarios. In Union, we can expect a team that are physically robust, strong at set pieces and well supported by their fans. I expect them to play with a lot of energy and power right from the start. That will challenge us. We have to go into the duels and play well going forward."

Service information 

The Stadion An der Alten Försterei is sold out and the match will be broadcast live on Sky. There will also be an audio stream on rbb24 Inforadio and rbb24. As usual, Union will also provide information about the match in the club's own live ticker, as well as in English and Spanish on twitter.