Thursday, 13 December 2012

Eintracht Braunschweig v 1. FC Union Berlin - Preview

A brief history of Eintracht Braunschweig

Eintracht Braunschweig (or to give the sporting association its full name - Braunschweiger Turn- und Sportverein Eintracht von 1895 e.V.)  have a rich history and were one of the founding members of the Bundesliga in 1963 when they were chosen to be one of the 16 teams out of forty-six applicants, to form the league. Prior to this, they were also founding members in 1900 of the German Football Association. Furthermore, they have the honour of probably being the first place in Germany to host a football match. 

A local school teacher by the name of Konrad Koch had brought football to the town. In autumn 1874 he initiated the first game of football in Germany although Dresden has also laid claim to this accolade with reports of a game in the April of the same year. It was Koch though, who devised the rules of football in 1875 in Germany, after learning of the English game and rules that were invented by the English Football Association in 1863.

Not only do Eintracht have a rich heritage in terms of the footballing side of the game - they actually won the Championship in 1967 - but they also have an interesting past in terms of the commercialisation of football in Germany and bribery and corruption.

In terms of bribery, it was a strange case in 1971, that led to two players being suspended and 10 dismissed from the club. However, rather than being bribed to 'throw' a game the reverse occurred. The players were paid to put extra effort in! 

It was two years later, on 24th March 1973, when Braunschweig faced Schalke 04, that the club took the then controversial step of opting for shirt sponsorship. Most readers will be familiar with the brand Jägermeister. It was a move which spawned a billion pound industry globally and in 1983 the alcohol brand actually tried to change the name of the club to Eintracht Jägermeister. I'm sure there would have been some cheap puns about Eintracht 'bombing' out of the league when they faced relegation. Eventually, the shirt deal came to an end in 1987.

Can you tell this is from the 1970's? Paul Breitner shows off the liquor brand
Eintracht Braunschweig v 1. FC Union Berlin

1. FC Union Berlin face Eintracht Braunschweig on Monday night in lower Saxony. It's the last game before the winter break and the league leaders will provide the Berliners with a tough test, on what will inevitably be, a cold December evening. Snow fell in early December across most of Germany and the temperatures have rarely been above freezing. This is exactly the type of away match I love. It's being played in front of the cameras, so only the hardcore Unioner will be in attendance. Also, by German standards, the two sides are in close proximity, as it's a mere 400km round-trip to Braunschweig from Berlin. 

Whilst Everton football club may be known as the School of Science, Braunschweig can lay claim to being the City of Science, after it was named Stadt der Wissenschaft in 2007. Everton's nickname came about in 1928 when their style of play was described as 'scientific'. Braunschweig certainly looked to have nailed that scientific approach when they visited the Stadion An der Alten Försterei back in August. It was Union's first home game and the soon-to-be league leaders played a strong defensive game and picked off Union with a disputed penalty. It was standard opening day stuff - cagey and deflating after a closed season of cautious optimism. Growing up a Sunderland fan, this is feeling I am well acquainted with. 


Union entered Spieltag (match day) 19 in 5th place in the Bundesliga 2. With Union unbeaten in seven, including three straight wins, confidence should be high. This is surely the ideal time to face Braunschweig again. Terodde has found form and notched 8 goals this term. The service he received from the flanks against Kaiserslautern will be key and Union need to start with Quirring if they are to get the best out of the Union striker's aerial ability. However, the fact that  Union club captain Torsten Mattuschka is missing due to suspension, is a blow.  

Neuhaus has to decide between going 4-4-2 or 4-5-1. Union look best when attacking and are always liable to concede away from home. If he plays Nemec it will certainly be a more aggressive statement of intent. If Silvio starts he is likely to drop very deep, turning what may appear on paper two up front, to a formation with 5 in midfield.  

Union, over the course of the last 5 matches, have marginally better form than Braunschweig. The Berliners have amassed 11 points from a possible 15 whilst the league leaders have notched 10 points in that period. Only Union's 'quiet neighbours', Hertha Berlin, have a better record. They have chalked up 4 wins and a draw in the last 5 attempts. 

I'm an exponent of the 'you can prove anything with stats' line, so I have included the form table, based on the last 6 games and you'll see Union pip Hertha on goals scored according to 

The 'Formtabelle' for the Bundesliga 2 over the past 6 matches
The View from Braunschweig

First and foremost, a big thanks to Gerald for being so kind as to humour my poor German and answer a few questions about Union's opponents and league leaders, Braunschweig. 

After being promoted from the third tier Braunschweig managed a very respectable 8th place finish last season. Gerald puts this down to them having a really good team as early as 2008/9. Clearly, Braunschweig have had time to gel as a unit and as Gerald points out, "Das zahlt sich jetzt aus." It sure is paying off now, as we enter Spieltag 19, they sit a whopping 9 points above 3rd place Kaiserslautern. That's a huge lead to squander but Gerald adds that some fans were very pessimistic and feared relegation. Second season syndrome if you like. What a shock for those fans it must be, knowing that irrespective of the result against the Berliners, they'll enter the winter break in an automatic promotion spot.

Gerald cites Dennis Kruppke as his favourite player and a key man to watch on Monday night. Kruppke recently extended his contract with the club and the club captain's goal scoring record is testimony to his influence. He's scored at a ratio  of just over 1 goal in every 3 games played. An astonishing strike rate for an attacking midfielder who has played almost 150 games for the club. 

When asked if Braunschweig really can win the league Gerald points firstly to the manager, Torsten Lieberknecht, who described it as, "ein Traum." A dream it may be, but at the half way stage of the season, Braunschweig are sitting top of the pile. Gerald believes they can win the league. What is football without dreams? 

Thanks again to Gerald and good luck from match day 20 onwards! 

Gerald Fricke, Akademischer Rat an der TU Braunschweig, forscht über die Webgesellschaft und hat zuletzt den satirischen Ratgeber "Dienstanweisung Internet" veröffentlicht. Twitter: @Ballkultur

1 comment:

  1. so proud to be your mum.Love to come to the 'carol' singing next year!