Union show fighting spirit away at Augsburg
Updated: Sep 25, 2019
Augsburg 1; Vargas (59.)
Union Berlin 1; Andersson (80.)
Distance Travelled: 1222km
Beer & Bratwurst Rating: 0/10
What a difference a day makes. Well, 6 days to be exact. If Matchday 1 showed that Union Berlin will face some tough opposition this season, Matchday 2 reminded us that Union will also face teams who they are very much equal to on the pitch. Even with the fan friendly 3:30pm Saturday kick off (is there a better feeling than watching a game at this time of day?!), I still found myself waking up just before sunrise in order to catch the train to Augsburg. Luckily I was armed with my usual packed lunch of sandwiches and beer. (Yes, I do take homemade sandwiches on the train with me and I challenge anyone to tell me they aren’t fucking tasty.) A minor train diversion and some 6 hours later I found myself walking up to the WWK-Arena in Augsburg. It might look like your bog-standard new stadium located in the middle of nowhere, but the WWK-Arena is actually the world’s first climate-neutral stadium. This is mainly achieved through a mixture of heat pumps and biogas. I’m assuming they were so pre-occupied with this new-fangled technology that they forgot to make sure beer with alcohol reached as far as the away block. I get trying to save the planet but shouldn’t we be concentrating on the more important things? Combined with the fact that the WWK-Arena insists of forcing customers to load money onto a prepay card in order to buy things, it meant that I was unable/unwilling to test out their Bier&Bratwurst. As a result Augsburg goes straight into 18th place in my Bundesliga Away Day Beer & Food…. ranking…. table? I’m still working on the name.
Anyway, this game is really about two things; that first ever Bundesliga goal and the first ever Bundesliga point. Personally I - and many others who pointed out the same on Twitter - found it pretty fitting that the two involved in the goal, Andersson and Polter, were two of the players so instrumental in getting Union out of the 2. Bundesliga in the first place. But for a while during the game it seemed like that elusive first Bundesliga goal and first Bundesliga point was to remain just that. Augsburg keeper Koubet made a great save from his own player when almost all of us were already celebrating what seemed like a certain goal. Christopher Lenz hit the post from distance and the follow up from Abdullahi was cleared, whilst another shot also went narrowly wide in a 5-10 minute period in which Union seemed to do everything but score. So it was hardly surprising when, as Polter was through in a 2-on-1 with Andersson, the guy next to me turned round and just couldn’t watch. He only turned back round when myself and almost 3,000 Union fans went into absolute pandemonium. There’s probably not too many places left where the ability to hug random strangers without consent isn’t frowned upon, but then again there aren’t too many places that can give you such a rush as a packed stand when your team scored. I know I certainly wasn’t complaining when the same guy was jumping all over me and hugging me. It times like that just make it all worthwhile.
I refuse to spend time going too deep into the benefits and drawbacks of VAR, but I will say that I was convinced that Polter should have got a penalty (and a deserved win I might add) right at the death for having his shirt held but whatever, if any, communication there was between the VAR and on-pitch referee, it didn’t result in a spot kick. And to be honest 18 hours later as I’m rolling back into Berlin, this time with the sun very much not in view, I coudn’t really complain. And even if I’d wanted to, I’d not got too much of a voice left anyway. As away trips in the Bundesliga go, there’s been a damn good standard set. Next up after a couple of home games; the party train to Leverkusen.
On a side note, one item I might need to add to bringing my sandwiches is a spare t-shirt. I don’t know if it’s the summer or maybe the Bundesliga really is taking everyone up a notch, but for the 2nd Bundesliga game in a row I walked out of the stadium looking (and feeling) like I’d just spent the last 2 hours in a mosh-pit at a metal gig. I wasn’t the only one either who looked like they’d just had a shower with all their clothes on such was the sweat dripping from us all. It’s not just those on the pitch who are putting in a right shift for the team. Whether or not there’s even a game going on, the fans are certainly making a racket in the stands.