UNION BERLIN FACT FILE
Thursday, 23. August 2018, 17:43 Uhr
After the cup exit at third division Wehen Wiesbaden, the Boys in Brown can now focus solely on the league and at Union Berlin on Sunday (1330 CET) will be looking to rediscover their form from the first two games. As usual, we've taken a closer look at our next opponents.
Union Berlin have been "at home" in Bundesliga 2 since the 2009/10 campaign. That means they are now in their tenth season in a row at this level, a stint no other current second-division team can match. VfL Bochum (since 2010) follow in second place, with the Boys in Brown (since 2011) close behind in third. Greuther Fürth were long the undisputed leaders until they departed for a one-year spell in the top flight in the 2012/13 season. Union have finished in the top half of the table every year since the 2011/12 campaign. A fourth-place finish in 2016/17 was their best to date. Last year they ended the season in eighth place.
Long and tall
In centre-back Florian Hübner (Hannover 96, 193cm), goalkeeper Rafael Gikiewicz (SC Freiburg, 190 cm) and forward Sebastian Andersson (FC Kaiserslautern, 190 cm), Union signed not one but three players taller than 190 cm in pre-season. And with six more "giants" in the squad in Lennart Moser (196 cm), Christoph Schösswendter (194 cm), Sebastian Polter (192 cm), Fabian Schönheim (191 cm), Marvin Friedrich (190 cm) and Lars Dietz (190 cm), they are not alone. Christopher Trimmel, Jakob Busk and Robert Zulj (all 189 cm) are not much smaller.
In addition to Hübner, Gikiewicz and Andersson, Union signed Manuel Schmiedebach (Hannover 96), Joshua Mees (TSG Hoffenheim, last year on loan at SSV Jahn Regensburg), Julian Ryerson (Viking Stavanger) and Ken Reichel (Eintracht Braunschweig) this summer. In the last few days the Berliners also secured the services of Suleiman Abdullahi (on loan from Eintracht Braunschweig) and Robert Zujl (TSG Hoffenheim). The list of players who left the club is just as long. In Steven Skrzybski (Schalke 04), Union lost their most valuable player last season after 17 years with the club. Other departures were Kristian Pedersen (Birmingham City), Toni Leistner (Queens Park Rangers), former St. Pauli player Dennis Daube (KFC Uerdingen), Philipp Hosiner (Sturm Graz), Daniel Mesenhöler (MSV Duisburg), Stephan Fürstner (Eintracht Braunschweig) and Cihan Karaman (Union Fürstenwalde).
The "Iron Ones" were full of running in their first two games, clocking up 236.04 kilometres, which puts them third behind Arminia Bielefeld (238.49 km) and HSV (237.23 km). In Grischa Prömel and Marcel Hartel, two Union players feature in the top ten in terms of distance covered. Prömel ran a total of 24.6 kilometres in the games against Aue and Cologne, while Hartel was just 300 metres behind on 25.7 kilometres.
The Boys in Brown haven't beaten Union in almost four years, with two draws and five defeats translating into a miserly two points from the last seven meetings. The last win dates back to 4 October 2014, when goals from Christopher Nöthe, Marc Rzatkowski and John Verhoek consigned Union to a 3-0 defeat at the Millerntor. The last win in the capital lies even further back. Deniz Naki and Markus Thorandt were the scorers in a 2-0 success on 28 October 2011.