Union Berlin …. yes, it’s another team in Berlin and finally, this team is actually on track to be in the top 3 or 4 of Bundesliga second league. It’s still yet to be seen if this team will attain promotion to the first league for the first time in the club’s history as they threatened last year but peeled off in momentum. I think this year might be different as they’re hanging in 3rd place while fighting the top two standing giants of FC Koln and Hamburger SV, both teams that got relegated last year and who both want to get back into top flight after hopefully for them spending one year in second league.
I feel as if there is a lot of excitement for this team because of the promotion potential to first league which is why their home games are selling out more and more. That’s what happens when fans believe that their team is having great success. Another reason for the team’s eventual promotion is the hope that the team can finally play more face-to-face games with the more dominant Hertha BSC (Hertha Berlin Sport Club) in what is called the Berlin Derby. The games have been rare as Hertha BSC has been the far more dominant team and spent more time in first league so both teams rarely faced each other. But during the times when Hertha did get relegated to second league, the games would be a big mess of a fight between each team’s fans. To some fans, these derbies are far more important than trophy games as it is viewed as a game for bragging rights. I know it sounds funny but it is. But in Berlin, if this Union team does make it to first league, then this derby would be far more than what it is. West vs East. Capitalist vs Communism (former). Former Allies vs Former Soviet Union. Blue vs Red. Big vs Small. Until they get promoted to first league when Hertha Berlin is there, we won’t see much of anything till then.
Union Berlin plays in Stadion An der Alten Försterei which translated from German to English means Stadium in the Old Forester’s House (I know it’s a funny name and instead, it should have been Das Alte Waldstadion = Old Forest Stadium) since it’s literally in the middle of the forest, well kind of – I think back in the day there was nothing but forest. However, now… it’s changed. Built back in the 1910s to early 1920s, the stadium has seen a lot of changes/upgrades over the years which even included some of the team’s supporters chipping to help by actually assisting in the manual labor and construction of the stadium which is located southeast of Berlin and fairly far from the city center. It’s pretty easy to get there by S-Bahn (city train) as you can undoubtedly just follow the crowds of people going to the game. IF there are a lot of fans, since this team is not as popular as their cross-town blue rivals.
In this game, Paderborn played its counterattacking style just like they did earlier in the season FC Koln vs Paderborn game which was last year and also saw Paderborn won. At first, it was a deadlock at 0-0 as both teams were getting a feel for each other and making some small changes such as moving back and forth from a 4-3-3 formation to a 3-5-2 then a 2-4-4 and however else as the game progressed. And then it happened – Paderborn scores first to break the tie on a counterattack no less! Being down, Union Berlin tried to press higher and send more attackers with a 3-2-2-3 formation but the problem with a high-press is that it leaves the defense exposed which Paderborn was able to expose. Paderborn scores another one and then another before Union Berlin was able to get one back but it was already too little, too late. Paderborn plays spoiler to steal victory and now, they are getting into the promotion talk! Three teams are going for that third playoff position – Union Berlin, St. Pauli, and now even Paderborn.
Tip: Like I stated before, going to Berlin to go see the sights such as the Berlin Wall or the Brandenburg Gate is fine, but if you really want to see something different – go to a football game! Especially to a Union Berlin game as the fans are quite different compared to Hertha’s.
Tip: Go to the stadium early as security is not the best out there since it’s small compared to most first league teams who can accommodate bigger crowds. I got caught waiting in line trying to get in so I missed the first few minutes of the game.