On Thursday, 16 March 2023, 1. FC Union Berlin will play the second leg of their UEFA Europa League last 16 tie against Belgian representatives Royale Union Saint-Gilloise. The match will kick off at Lotto Park in Anderlecht at 21:00.
The lie of the land
After the wild, high-scoring first leg at the Stadion An der Alten Försterei last Thursday, both teams still have every chance of reaching the next round. While Saint-Gilles were devastating in their lightning counter-attacks, taking the lead three times during the 3-3 draw, Union once again proved that they are too made of strong stuff, that few set-backs need be permanent when one has strength of will and unending self-belief. Every time Saint-Gilles thought they had them beaten, Union would come back.
Once again, their strength at set-pieces played a major role, with two of Union’s goals coming either directly or indirectly from a dead-ball. Josip Juranovic's superbly struck free kick, and Robin Knoche's instinctive follow-up shot after his penalty had been palmed aside by the Saint-Gilles keeper, Anthony Moris.
Substitute Sven Michel finished with great technique in the dying minutes to ensure parity, and a good starting position for the second leg.
While 1. FC Union Berlin earned a hard-won point at home to VfL Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga on Sunday, Saint-Gilles played away at KRC Genk, the leaders of the Belgian Jupiler Pro League. There, they showed another of the many similarities between themselves and the club from Köpenick – apart from the obvious ones of the name and the oft-remarked upon styles of play - as Karel Garaerts’ side came back from a goal down to win 2-1.
Both goals came from their full-backs, Bart Nieuwkoop equalised shortly before the half time whistle, with Simon Adingra adding the winner only moments later. They remain in second in the table.
Apart from Andras Schäfer the whole of Union's European squad are fit and ready to play.
The coach and player’s views ahead of the game
"Both teams want to win tomorrow, I am sure of that," said Urs Fischer during his press conference at Lotto Park on Thursday afternoon. "It is a battle between equals, so I expect a difficult game. For us, it's about showing our true face and avoiding mistakes. We want to progress into the next round and we will have to go to our very limits to do that."
By his side was one of the heroes of the first leg, centre-half, Robin Knoche. "We know our opponents very well by now. I also expect a close knockout game in which the little details will ultimately be decisive."
2,000 Unioners will be there to support Union in the sold-out away sector of Lotto Park in Anderlecht. Further important information on how to get there and on visiting the stadium can be found here.
The match can be seen live on RTL and heard on rbb24 Inforadio and rbb24.de. As usual, Union will also report on the match on the club's own live ticker, as well as in English on twitter.