More fine margins as Union lose another game
Wolfsburg 1; Weghorst (69.)
Union Berlin 0;
Distance Covered: 484km
Season Total: 2856km
One of things about following Union around Germany is that you get to see how other teams ‘do’ football on a matchday. I’ve actually been to Wolfsburg before to see Utd get dumped out of the Champions League. However on that occasion having spent the large majority of the day drinking in Wolfsburg’s less than impressive city centre most of the game, as it did for the Utd players that night, rather passed me by. With a relatively quick one hour train journey over to Wolfsburg, it means leaving Berlin at a relatively normal time compared to most away trips this season; the first beer wasn’t even cracked until 11:30am. It’s a good job it’s so close because to be honest Wolfsburg is not a place worth travelling many hours to get to. It is effectively a walking giant VW showroom. Only those with a fetish for what feels like every Volkswagen car ever produced would find this place even remotely interesting. Those who have a fetish for football won’t be so excited, especially with a home atmosphere that also resembles an empty car showroom.
I wrote a few weeks ago about the way in which the Bundesliga will often market itself on its fan culture. It would be easy to think that this is a constant throughout the league. Let’s be clear: it is not. There are some clubs for whom commercialism is definitely not seen as A Bad Thing. Seeing other teams and stadiums just makes me feel even more grateful and lucky following Union. The difference between the Volkswagen Arena (of course it’s called that) and the Alte Försterei could not be more different. Nothing sums that up more than hearing and seeing some advert for some utterly uninspiring hotel in Wolfsburg flash up on the big screen during a break in play. Throw in some hideous orange giant drone blimp that’s flown around the stadium at halftime and it’s safe to say I fucking hate being in Wolfsburg.
The football on the other hand was better. Not good enough to secure a point, but better nonetheless. After four losses in a row Dortmund is feeling a long time ago. With three of those losses being by a single goal there’s certainly a feeling of frustration in the air after the game. It is as always, the hope that kills you. Union’s away performances over the past few seasons have been patchy at best but the way they went about the game in Wolfsburg was decent. On numerous occasions they managed to find space down the channels and with a 51%-49% split in possession, weren’t particularly dominated in the way you might expect. Speaking after the game Urs Fischer said, “We played well today and were equal from the very first second… The criticism we must make against ourselves is that we have to capitalise on our opportunities. If you do not score goals, it will be difficult.” And therein lies the frustration. Time and time again Union managed to put themselves into positions in the last third and failed to make it count. Meanwhile Wolfsburg showed why they are in the Europa League and where having a striker like Wout Weghorst will get you. The positive for Union has to be how well they played against a team competing in the Europa League.
Around a total of 6,000 fans made the trip in the end with around half of those buying tickets in the home end. Among those in the stadium were a couple of Scottish lads I ended up chatting to on the way back to Berlin. They were over for the weekend in order to watch Union. They’d watched them on TV over the past few years in the UK and having seen how difficult it is to get tickets for home games decided to buy tickets near the Union away end in order to finally watch Union. One of them told me they’d been to between 20 and 30 games in Germany and it was the best support they’d seen without a doubt. He couldn’t quite believe it when I said I’d probably put it down as a 7/10 average atmosphere for Union. Wolfsburg has for good and bad reasons reminded me why I’m lucky going to Union and four losses in a row hasn’t dented that one bit.