Bremen Come to Köpenick
The Last Match of a Remarkable Season
For their final game of the 2022/23 Bundesliga season, 1. FC Union Berlin will host SV Werder Bremen on Saturday, 27.05.2023. Kick off at the Stadion An der Alten Försterei is at 15:30, and will ultimately decide in which European competition Union will compete next season.
The lie of the land
Saturday's match will be a contrasting affair for both sides. The guests from the Hanseatic city were finally able to secure their place in the Bundesliga last weekend through a 1-1 draw against 1. FC Köln, and can now plan for at least one more year in the German top flight. They are safe.
Far more is at stake for Union, however, in their now almost traditional end-of-season cliff-hanger. Two years ago, they secured a place in the UEFA Europa Conference League on the final day with a 2-1 win over RasenBallsport Leipzig. Former Bremen player Max Kruse providing head coach Urs Fischer's team a ticket to the newly created competition with his winner.
Last year, too, Union’s European fates hung on the last 90 minutes of the season, this time to decide if they would once again compete in the Conference League, or even make it into the UEFA Europa League. And again, despite it going to the wire, Union triumphed, with Taiwo Awoniyi's 88th minute winner against VfL Bochum sending them into Europe's second biggest club competition for the first time.
So, this brings things around to now, with Union currently in fourth place, level on points with SC Freiburg in fifth, but with a four-goal advantage. If they want to remain there, in the Champions League spots, after the final whistle, Union will need to at least match Freiburg’s result, while hoping (in the case of both sides winning) that Freiburg do not make up the goal difference against Eintracht Frankfurt.
That the recently promoted SV Werder Bremen have retained their place in the league is largely thanks to their offensive duo, Niklas Füllkrug and Marvin Ducksch. With 16 and 12 goals respectively, the two centre-forwards together have scored more than half of Bremen's goals so far.
But that doesn't mean they are light elsewhere. When looking at head coach Ole Werner's team as a whole, it is striking that the Bremen are the only team in the top flight to have collected more points away than at home, with 19 on the road compared to 17 at the Weserstadion. Werder had flown as high as 12th place earlier in the season, but have recently gone on a disappointing run, with only one win from the last eleven games.
For Union, there will be a triple reunion with a former clubmates on Saturday. Levin Öztunali played a total of 46 games in the famous green and white jersey between 2015 and 2016, while his midfield colleague Kevin Möhwald played 60 times for SVW between 2018 and 2021, before his move to the Alte Försterei. The last of them is Bremen-born Kevin Behrens, whowas involved in their youth set-up from 2009 to 2011, and has fond memories of his return to play against them before Christmas.
For their part, Bremen will also bring an old acquaintance back to Köpenick in the shape of Patrick Kohlmann. Ole Werner’s co-trainer played 175 times, largely as a left-back, for Union between 2008 and 2014.
Apart from the injured András Schäfer, the whole squad is fit and ready to play.
The coaches’ views ahead of the game
"The game will be a challenge for us,” said Urs Fischer during his final pre-match press conference of the season on Thursday. “Even though Bremen's recent results have not all been good, we have to be careful. They have a well-organised and compact team that follows a clear match plan, especially with the target players Füllkrug and Ducksch. So, as always, we need a good day, because Werder will certainly not give us anything."
Ole Werner, meanwhile would entertain no thoughts of taking it easy, despite the fact that they’ve managed to stay in the league. "We want to have fun and enjoy ourselves in our last game, and we'll still give everything we've got,” he said on Thursday afternoon. “We know our responsibility and will therefore try, as we have done 33 times before, to put our best performance on the pitch. We are playing against a team that is rightly playing for the European places, they are now very experienced and also very strong at home."
The stadium An der Alten Försterei is sold out in all sections and will open as usual two hours before kick off. An early arrival is recommended to avoid missing the farewell ceremony for players leaving the club about 20 minutes before kick-off. The car park in front of the main stand will be kept free for the celebrations after the final whistle, you can read the plans for the party here.
The match will be broadcast live on Sky 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. There will be an audio stream on rbb24 Inforadio and on rbb24.de.