Thursday, 25 October 2012

Union Berlin huff and puff against 10 man Frankfurt

Due to making sure 15 Irish lads got in the ground OK, I took a week off blogging duties and @robinberlin kindly wrote the blog this week. As usual, he's bang on the money.

After an early season wobble Union are now looking resembling a solid resolute outfit. However, their inability to create and take chances in front of goal remains a cause for concern.

In the balmy late October sunshine, Union were lead out by the “King of St Pauli”, Thorsten Mattuschka, whose exploits in their last fixture had rescued a point away in Hamburg.

The new stand is taking shape and building work is ahead of schedule.

The fact that FSV Frankfurt were on the wrong end of a 4-0 shellacking last year was cause for optimism amongst Union fans who were keen to secure a third home win on the bounce.

After an fairly unremarkable opening ten minutes, the game turned on a decision from the referee to award a twelfth minute penalty to Union following a deliberate handball by Frankfurt defender Marc Heitmeier . For this offence he received his second yellow card and FSV were down to ten men.

Mattuschka never looked like missing and he slotted the ball home to score his third goal in two games. Happy days – the sun was out, Union had the extra man and this correspondent was looking forward to an afternoon goal fest.

Mattuschka sends the keeper the wrong way

Nothing quite rolls of the tongue like a classic footballing cliché. Italian defences are always “well very organised”, Brazil always play “samba football” and it is always, always harder to play against ten men.

This is a view I’ve never subscribed to. How can it be harder to play against a team having to compensate for having one fewer man? However, having seen Union struggle for the remaining 80 minutes against 10 men, I’ve decided that for the time being at least, all football clichés much be true.

At times it was impossible to determine which team had the extra man. Frankfurt stubbornly defended the fleeting Union attacks and then looked the more threatening going forward.

Long balls at the heart of the Union defence caused panic and resulted in yellow cards for both Union centre backs Christian Stuff (the poor man’s Per Mertesacker) and Roberto Puncec.

Before the half was out Björn Jopek was taken off. It was an afternoon of mixed emotion for Jopek. The crowd had loudly cheered the news of his contract extension, but in truth he had a bit of a shocker and was “hooked” before the half was out. I can only imagine the signing on fee must have gone to his head.

The second half plodded along and for the most part, Union were uninspired and sloppy. It felt like the international break and the early goal had taken all the sharpness and urgency out of their play.

Protest banner pointing out that Rauball (league President) has a few stains on his CV. The second anti-DFB/DFL banner to be unfurled during the game

Simple passes were being misplaced and FSV still appeared to be the most likely team to score. One ray of quality in an afternoon of mediocrity was shown by Stuff who drilled a swerving 25 yard shot onto the bar.

The game was characterised by one of its last acts. After a swift counter following an FSV attack, Union created a clear chance. Mattuschka was one on one with the keeper. Having dragged the ball on to his less favoured left foot, he shot over from 12 yards out.

Union blaze wide - again.

And that was pretty much that . 2-0 would have flattered Union, and 1-0 was probably unfair to FSV who least laid to rest the ghosts of last year’s drubbing.

Union will have to play better this weekend if they want to beat and leapfrog Paderborn.

Maybe Union should just start with 10 men…

Big thank you to Groundhoppping etc. for the photographs. Do check out the facebook page and click like. Superb Berlin photography of the beautiful game.

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