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Union Versus Stuttgart

Swabians Come to Berlin:

Fri, 20. October 2023
Union Versus Stuttgart

Following the international break, the players and fans of 1. FC Union Berlin can finally celebrate a return to the Bundesliga as they host VfB Stuttgart in their eighth game of the season so far. Kick off at the Stadion An der Alten Försterei is at 15:30. 

The opponents

Six wins, 18 points and second place in the table, it’s fair to say that Stuttgart’s fans will be happy with their best start to a season in 28 years. Although they only managed to stay in the league last year by a whisker, winning the relegation playoff, Stuttgart are currently one of the best teams in the Bundesliga. The statistics are impressive; after seven matches, the Swabians have scored more goals than they did in the entire first half of last season. In addition, VfB have won four home games in a row and have won the last five games by at least a two-goal difference.

In-form striker Serhou Guirassy has played a major role in this success. The Guinean international, who initially moved to Stuttgart on loan from Ligue 1 club Stades Rennes in the summer of 2022 and was signed permanently a year later, has already scored 13 times this season. By comparison, Niklas Füllkrug and Christopher Nkunku were the joint top scorers last season with 16 goals apiece. Most recently, Guirassy scored a hattrick in Stuttgart’s 3-1 home win over VfL Wolfsburg. 

In addition to the attack, coach Sebastian Hoeneß - on the bench at Stuttgart since April 2023 - can also have confidence in a defence built around Waldemar Anton and keeper Alexander Nübel. The stopper left AS Monaco in the summer and following a brief return to FC Bayern, was loaned on to Stuttgart. He has kept three clean sheets already this season. 

The reunions

Two current Union players have a Stuttgart past. In addition to Benedict Hollerbach, who played for VfB at U19 and U23 level, Rani Khedira also spent a long time with the Swabians, coming through the youth teams of the five-time German champions from 2005 to 2012, finally celebrating his Bundesliga debut for them in the 2013/14 season. 

Genki Haraguchi and Jamie Leweling, meanwhile, are two former Unioners who have travelled the other way. Leweling played 25 competitive games for Union last season and is now on loan to VfB for a year, and the experienced Japanese international Haraguchi wore the red and white 61 times between 2021 and 2023. 

In addition, Christian Gentner has been head of VfB's professional player department since January 2023. The former midfielder spent the greatest part of his professional career with Stuttgart, but signed for Union for two seasons between 2019 and 2021.              

The head to head

In ten games played, there have been six draws and three wins for the Berliners. VfB have only won once. But long in the memory will remain the two encounters at the end of the 2019/20 season when Union overcame Stuttgart in the relegation play-off with two draws, and with them were promoted to the Bundesliga. 

The personnel

András Schäfer, Josip Juranović, Jérôme Roussillon and Mikkel Kaufmann are not available on Saturday. In addition, Alexander Schwolow is currently ill, though whether the goalkeeper can be in the squad at the weekend is currently unclear. 

The coaches’ views ahead of the match

"Stuttgart are a team in full flow at the moment,” said Union’s head coach Urs Fischer during his press conference on Thursday afternoon. “They have a clear plan, push high, use the space in midfield well and always try to put the opponent under stress. With Guirassy, they also have a difference-maker in their ranks who we have to deal with collectively."

"There are many reasons why our results have not been good in recent weeks. But I want to look ahead and stop dwelling on the past. We will try everything to get out of this negative streak. For that we have to bring the basics on the pitch, be more stable and make fewer individual mistakes than before," he added.

"I am very sure that Union have set their sights high,” said his opposite number, Sebastian Hoeneß, meanwhile. “They have a lot to offer, plus they have players coming back who are important for their framework. If you take the past seven games, I've only seen one in which they really deserved to lose - that was against Real Madrid, even though that was very unfortunate just before the end. In the other six games, I mean, it wasn't so clear... So, the run they are on is a bit deceptive."

Service information

S-Bahn services will be interrupted this weekend between Karlshorst and Friedrichshagen. On match day, 1. FC Union Berlin, in cooperation with S-Bahn Berlin GmbH, will operate additional shuttle buses between Karlshorst S-Bahn station and An der Wuhlheide. Further information can be found here. 

The match is sold out and 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 on the match in the club's own live ticker.