The race for the top four gets most intriguing in the German Bundesliga after both Wolfsburg and Frankfurt lost in the 15:30 kickoffs.
Amongst the fine set of matches on a decidedly warmer Saturday afternoon across the Bundesrepublik, FC Union Berlin earned a very significant victory in the Europa Leauge race.
The Köpenickers dispatched of fellow UEL aspirants VfB Stuttgart 2-1 at home.
Europe was on the line at the Stadion An der Alten Försterei in Berlin's Köpenick quarter as the 2020/21 Bundesliga's two biggest overachievers met in a critical round 29 contest. Union captain Christopher Trimmel, donning a face shield in addition to the skipper's armband after suffering a broken nose last week, proved the hero by serving both of his club's goals.
VfB Stuttgart trainer Pellegrino Matarazzo had to do without both his most potent flankers. Borna Sosa injured his knee in the final Friday training session, most unfortunately joining Silas Wamangituka on the inactive list. The VfB gaffer started Erik Thommy in Sosa's place. A very stretched-looking 3-4-3 proved woefully ineffective. It sometimes looked as if no one was stationed on the third and fourth axis at all.
Urs Fischer's 3-4-3 fared much better. Union's Christian Gentner, a former Stuttgart player, played Trimmel through with an excellent ball in the 20th. Trimmel then squatted deftly for Grischa Prömmel, completely free at the far post to the 1-0 lead. After a half during which Stuttgart did eventually stabilize defensively, Petar Musa scored off a Trimmel cross in the 43rd. This time Max Kruse did an wonderful job playing Trimmel ahead.
Matarazzo emplyed a triple change at the half to shake his team up. Daniel Didavi, Pascal Stenzel, and Tanguy Coulibaly were replaced by Mateo Klimowicz, Philipp Förster, and Roberto Massimo. The moves paid off four minutes into the second 45 as Austrian striker Sasa Kalajdzic laid off nicely for Förster. The substitute finished cooly to halve his team's deficit.
A reinvigorated Swabian side then proceeded to look much more confident in possession, but didn't create many chances of note. VfB Keeper was the busier of the two net minders down the stretch. Trimmel got his own effort off while Max Kruse squandered an effort from close range roughly fifteen minutes from time.
The win pushes Union up to one point of the UEL places, tied with Marco Rose's foals in terms of both points and goal-differential. The team that lies slightly ahead of them--Bayer Leverkusen--kick off against new head coach Friedhelm Funkel in tonight's late kickoff.
Gladbach are tied with Union by virtue of the fact thaey overpowered a very unfocused looking Eintracht Frankfurt side 4-0. By the exact same scoreline, SC Freiburg demolished last-place Schalke at the Schwarzwaldstadion. Chistian Günter bagged a brace in the Breisgauer win.
There would be no goals at the WWK0-Arena as Augsburg and Bielefeld drew 0-0. Bayern and Wolfsburg nevertheless pulled up the cumulative goal total a gripping five-goal contest won by the defending champions 3-2. Bayern pick up points on Leipzig following an RB draw on Friday night and stand seven points clear at the top.