Germany: Bundesliga
0 - 3
(0 - 1)
Union Berlin
S. Guirassy (16), Silas (81), D. Undav (88)
By Peter Weis@PeterVicey

15:30 Kickoffs: Leverkusen and Stuttgart win away, Frankfurt, Freiburg, and Leipzig victorious

Top-four aspirants Bayer 04 Leverkusen and VfB Stuttgart have kept pace with Friday evening winners Borussia Dortmund with wins of their own in the latest set of Bundesliga 15:30 kickoffs. Leverkusen defeated Wolfsburg 2-1 whilst Stuttgart, despite losing star striker Serhou Guirassy to injury early, delivered a convincing 3-0 win over reeling 1. FC Union Berlin. 

RB Leipzig, Eintracht Frankfurt, and SC Freiburg also all emerged winners from a simultaneous set of kickoffs that featured no draws. Darmstadt, Hoffenheim, and VfL Bochum all fell defeat on the 2023/24 German Bundesliga's eighth match-day. 
Borussia Dortmund were able to claim top spot in the Bundesliga table following a home victory over SV Werder Bremen last night, but were knocked back down to third place after VfB Stuttgart and Bayer 04 Leverkusen both won their respective away matches in the latest set of Saturday afternoon kickoffs. Leverkusen top the table after beating Wolfsburg 2-1. Sebastian Hoeneß' surprise Stuttgart traveled to the Stadion An der Alten Försterei and sent Urs Fischer's Union Berlin to their eighth consecutive defeat.

VfB trainer Hoeneß made to changes to the XI that topped Wolfsburg 3-1 just prior to the international break. Dan-Axel Zagadou replaced Pascal Stenzel in defense. Anthony Rouault swung out wide to take Stenzel's place at right-back. Summer acquisition Maximilian Mittelstädt made his starting XI debut for his new club, starting over Hiroki Ito at the left back position.

Union trainer Fischer hoped to profit from the return of two of his squad's leaders. Defender Robin Knoche and skipper Rani Khedira both made their comeback after long injury layoffs. Khedira slotted in for Alex Kral in midfield whilst Knoche replaced Leonardo Bonucci as the central fulcrum in the back three. Additionally, Kevin Volland and Lucas Tousart took the respective places of Sheraldo Becker and Aïssa Laïdouni in Fischer's 3-5-2.

Neither side managed to carve out many clear-cut chances during what was a sluggish start featuring many stoppages and interruptions. Little much was going on in open play. Hoeneß' Swabians took the lead on their first real chance of the game. It was none other Bundesliga goal-machine Serhou Guirassy with the headed finish for the 1-0 in the 16th. Knoche looked significantly rusty on a loose mark of the VfB striker.

Union weren't able to muster up much in terms of a response. The visiting team, meanwhile, played a largely clean and controlled game in the opening 45. Unfortunately, Stuttgart had to contend with the bad news that Guirassy couldn't continue on the pitch due to thigh problems. The league's leading goal-scorer was subbed off at the half-hour-mark.

Fischer went for a radical change at the half, pulling three of his starters and switching to a 3-4-3 formation. Becker and Kral came on for Tousart and Janik Haberer. David Datro Fofana also relieved Volland. Chances nevertheless remained at a premium until Becker and Guirassy's replacement, Deniz Undav, traded scoring opportunities near the hour-mark.

Kral had perhaps the best opportunity to equalize, but couldn't get a full-booted strike on the ball in the 66th. VfB keeper Alexander Nübel did well to snuff out most of the Union attack charges down the stretch, actively doing a fine impersonation of Manuel Neuer's "sweeper keeper" style. Silas sealed the result for the guests with the 2-0 of a quick counter in the 81st. Undav headed home the 3-0 eight minutes later.

Elsewhere in the Bundesliga's 15:30 kickoffs, Stuttgart's fellow top-four aspirants Bayer 04 Leverkusen were able to keep pace with an away win of their own. Xabi Alonso's Werkself prevailed over Wolfsburg 2-1 at the Volkswagen Arena in the "Battle of the German Company Teams". Wingbacks Alejandro Grimaldo and Jeremie Frimpong scored for the league leaders.

Following a draw in their most recent round of league action, Marco Rose's RB Leipzig were able to get back to winning ways against newly-promoted side SV Darmstadt 98. Löis Openda recorded a brace as the German Red Bulls rolled over he Lillies 3-1 at the Merck-Stadion am Böllenfalltor. Leipzig will finish the weekend in fifth-place thanks to the result.

Dion Toppmöller's Eintracht Frankfurt were able to build upon their victory over Heidenheim just prior to the international break, picking up three points from their trip to Sinsheim. A 3-1 win over Pellegrino Matarazzo's TSG 1899 Hoffenheim pulls the SGE up to seventh place in the table. Christian Streich's Freiburg are right behind the Hessians on goal differential after pulling out a 2-1 win over VfL Bochum.

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