Friday Night Lights
Union Berlin 1; Ujah (86.)
Eintracht Frankfurt 2; Dost (48.), Silva (62.)
Kick off times. Everyone has their favourite. Everyone has their most hated. (Saturday lunchtime surely?) If you support a top side in England you tend to give up hope quite quickly of enjoying many 3pm Saturday games. Thankfully half of Union’s so far this season have been the standard 3:30pm Saturday afternoon. After four seasons of 1pm Saturday games in the 2. Bundesliga it’s great to enjoy a bit of tradition for a change. Last weekend however, saw the first Friday night game of the season for Union. Yet another thing I’m enjoying for the first time since moving to Germany, the Friday night home game is without doubt my favourite kick off time. It occupies a space in the footballing calendar much the same way Monday night games sit in England. Between the two however, it’s fairly clear which one is better. England slowly introducing them could be considered a good thing if it weren’t for the fact that Monday night games will also continue. An either/or option is really the only choice in the face of televised games, having both is the commercialisation of football going too far. It’s no wonder Monday night games have been so heavily protested since their introduction in Germany.
Despite taking place since 2006 Friday night games in Germany aren’t 100% popular; if you’re an away fan you’re still faced with a day off work, but for a home fan, or rather an Union fan going to a stadium like the Alte Försterei on a Friday night under the floodlights, it’s just brilliant. It’s the start of the weekend, in a sold out stadium and with an 8:30pm kick off there’s just enough time to get nicely oiled up after work that results in a white hot (or should that be red hot?) atmosphere. Admittedly you do raise the risk of being stuck next to some dickhead who only wants scream, “louder” in the faces of everyone around him despite not singing a single word himself, but it’s a compromise I’m willing to (and indeed on Friday did) make. Anyway, makes a change to being in England and being told to sit down.
For this Friday game Union hosted Eintracht Frankfurt, a side who I’ve developed a soft spot for in Germany. One of my mates on the Bundesliga Diaries (come on, it’s been a while since I plugged the podcast) is an Eintracht Fan and having watched the sheer numbers that they travelled with in the Europa League last season it’s hard not to enjoy a club with a proper fan culture behind it. On Friday night they brought a full away end all dressed in black carrying a decent number of flares. The weekly confirmation that moving to Germany for the football was definitely a good one this week.
On the pitch it was another difficult match. The overall difference in class in every position between the two teams was not night and day. However put all together and Frankfurt ultimately had enough efficiency to take whatever half chances were granted by Union. Conversely Union right now just need a few too many opportunities to guarantee the number of goals needed to get results. But given the fixture list it’s hardly surprising. Frankfurt were already the third European competitor Union have faced this season in an opening ten games which sees them play all seven European teams in the Bundesliga.
Ultimately poorer teams will come to Union who will not only not have the attacking efficiency of the likes of Frankfurt, but won’t be able to restrict Union to so few chances. Instead of 3 or 4 chances, Union have enough quality to create 7 or 8, and with it maybe 2 or 3 goals that should see them pick up points. You can tell it’s going to be a long season but most of the fans I speak to believe that the level of performances right now are good enough to get results throughout the season, especially once this absolute bastard of an opening is over and done with. It’s frustrating but as ever the fans are 100% behind the team, players and manager. Union fans have dealt impeccably with the adjustment needed to deal with the fact that Union are now losing a lot of their games compared to the wins (or indeed draws) of the previous seasons. I still have to remind myself we’re watching a team who’ve now lost 4 from their opening 6 games. You just can’t tell from the fucking noise in the stadium. Friday night showed why it remains my favourite kick off time.