Koepenick cheers

There was much cheering at the An der Alten Försterei stadium on Sunday before 1. FC Union Berlin’s game against VfL Wolfsburg had even started. The ceremonial reading of the team line-up was extended by an artificial break, which was for a returnee: Timo Baumgartl. The Union centre-back was back in the starting XI for the first time in around 150 days after overcoming testicular cancer. “Welcome back, Timo!” It said on a banner in the forest side stand, who howled with enthusiasm – just like at the end of the game.

Because: Union won against Wolfsburg 2-0 and not only stayed at the top of the table they conquered a week ago, but even extended the lead over FC Bayern. “That’s exactly what I dreamed of in chemo,” said Baumgartl at Dazn: “I also did it a bit for everyone in the oncology ward.” When he found out about his assignment, it was “very emotional”, said the 26-year-old, visibly touched: “It’s all difficult to put into words.”

The Unioner submitted a declaration of intent immediately after the start of the game. After 42 seconds, captain Christopher Trimmel crossed from the right flank to Janik Brühl, who volleyed at full speed – and found his master in VfL goalkeeper Koen Casteels. As a result, VfL first tried to barricade their own penalty area. As a result, the two teams moved about as coordinated as swarms of passengers on crowded platforms when Deutsche Bahn changes the carriage sequence at the last minute. Everyone somehow knew where they wanted to go, just not exactly.

After the break, the frequency of the goal scenes is increased

The Unioners clearly had a clearer plan when they had the ball. In the first half, Wolfsburg came up with a single goal: Josip Brekalo missed a surprisingly fine heel clearance from Matttias Svanberg (32nd minute). Union’s most dangerous opportunity was little about a header from Baumgartl. All in all, it meant that the thought of Max Kruse was even more pressing than before. The Alte Försterei was the last place where the footballer Kruse felt comfortable, until early 2022 he played for Union. In Wolfsburg, on the other hand, he was recently booted out by coach Niko Kovac because VfL would like to have players who “mainly work against the ball”, as sports director Marcel Schäfer put on record at DAZN.

After the break, the frequency of goal scenes was increased. Union again managed to score a fast goal after less than 60 seconds. This time striker Jordan Siebatcheu put the ball wide of the goal from 14 meters (46′). After a response from Maximilian Arnold, who narrowly missed from 17 meters out, Union struck: After a cross from Sheraldo Becker, Siebatcheu converted the lead with a fine diving header (54th).

Then it was time for the coaches: Wolfsburg’s Niko Kovac tried to add football to his team, he brought in Omar Marmoush. VfL Wolfsburg discovered that there is also a forward gear, but all in all VfL remained a team in the dark. “We didn’t do much up front,” Arnold complained: “We know the situation we’re in. It hurts, but we have to collect ourselves during the international break.” Union switched to switching and made it 2-0 (78th) through Sheraldo Becker, which left Köpenick in the lead. Wolfsburg, on the other hand, remains penultimate – and caught up in the Kruse crisis.

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