Union Berlin vs SV Werder Bremen: Bundesliga preview, Gameweek 34, 2023
BERLIN, GERMANY - MAY 13: Sheraldo Becker of 1. FC Union Berlin runs with the ball during the Bundesliga match between 1. FC Union Berlin and Sport-Club Freiburg at Stadion an der alten Försterei on May 13, 2023 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Oliver Hardt/Getty Images)

Two years ago, die Eisernen secured seventh on the final day and qualification into the UEFA Conference league for the first time.

A year later, Union Berlin finished fifth in Bundesliga, securing a place in the Europa League for the first time but just one point off RB Leipzig and Champions League qualification.

On Saturday, Union have another chance of going one better and securing a historic place in Europe’s elite football competition but Werder Bremen stand in their way in the final match of the season.

After defeat away to Hoffenheim last weekend, Union have to accept RB Leipzig’s superiority once more, as the Red Bull-financed club’s unlikely victory over Bavarian giants, Bayern Munich secured third place and their Champions League qualification for a fifth consecutive season.

However, after maintaining their unbeaten home record this season with a vital win over league rivals Freiburg two weeks ago, Union need to just match Freiburg’s result as they travel to Eintracht Frankfurt.

With one eye west and one eye on what happens in the Stadion An der Alten Försterei, it is set to be a momentous day in Bundesliga but it won’t be easy.

Having secured their Bundesliga status again after last season’s promotion thanks to a late goal from Romano Schmidt last weekend, Werder will be looking to spoil the party.

The visitors were in a rut after four consecutive defeats left the north-west side looking over their shoulder at relegation. But the draw against 1. FC Köln and results elsewhere meant that Werder can start planning for next season and they will want to do so with their first win since mid-April, also in Berlin against Hertha.

However, the odds and recent history are truly in Union’s favour.

Having not lost to Werder since 2019 and not experienced a league defeat at home in 14 months, Union should be confident of their chances.

When these two sides met in January of this year, Union needed to come from behind to win with goals from Janis Haberer and Kevin Behrens lifting the visitors up to second in Bundesliga.

Union may find themselves a couple of places lower in the league table but have maintained their extraordinary performance.

In defence, Union boast the most clean sheets in the league and in attack, have started to find their goal-scoring feet. With six goals in the previous two games and a fresh bill of health, Urs Fischer’s men are undoubtedly favourites for this one.

  • Team News 

Union Berlin

In the pre-match conference, Head Coach, Urs Fischer said his side need to “just do our job”, using the sense of occasion to find a “relaxed tension.”

That may be easier said than done but Union don’t have any major injury fears for the final match of the season and Fischer will be unlikely to tinker with so much on the line.

With 19 goals and 11 assists between them in the league this season, Sheraldo Becker and Kevin Behrens will be leading the attack.

In midfield, Josip Juranovic will be competing with club Captain, Christopher Trimmel for a start, and at the back, Frederik Ronnow will continue in goal, supported by the relatively impenetrable, back-three of either Danilho Doekhi, Robin Knoche, Paul Jaeckel and Diogo Leite in a 3-5-2 formation.
András Schafer is the only player unavailable through a reoccurring foot injury.

Werder Bremen

At more than twenty years Urs Fischer’s junior, Werner Ole takes charge of his 55th game at the helm of Werder and his first at Stadion An der Altern Försterei.

It has been a fortress for Union Berlin this season but Werder Bremen’s compact and disciplined style will be well-suited to the combatant atmosphere created in the forest of south-East Berlin.
The visitors will play on the counter and have a less-than-secret weapon in Bundesliga’s top scorer Niclas Füllkrug. 

With 16 goals and 5 assists, the German striker has contributed to almost half of Werder’s goals this season but is struggling with a calf injury. He looks destined to win the golden boot but may look to play through the pain in what could be his final game for Werder Bremen after interest from across Europe.
Ole will be eager to retain his attacking threat as his squad has been ravaged by injuries recently. Dikeni-Rafid Salifou (foot injury), Felix Agu (knee), Mitchell Weiser (muscle injury), Amos Pieper (ankle), and captain Christian Gross (knee) are all out, as is Jens Stage through suspension.

  • Predicted Lineups 

Union Berlin

Ronnow - Doekhi, Knoche, Leite - Juranovic, Laidouni, Khedira, Haberer, Roussillon - Behrens, Becker

Out: Andras Schafer (foot)

Doubtful: -

Werder Bremen

Pavlenka - Veljkovic, Stark, Friedl - Gruev - Weiser, Jung, Schmidt, Buchanan - Fullkrug, Ducksch

Out: Dikeni-Rafid Salifou (foot injury), Felix Agu (knee), Mitchell Weiser (musclular), Amos Pieper (ankle), Christian Gross (knee), Jens Stage (suspension)

Doubtful: -

  • Key Players 

Union Berlin - Sheraldo Becker

Sheraldo Becker has 11 goals at 1.9 shots per game and seven assists for Union Berlin but this only tells half the story.

Alongside Kevin Behrens, Becker has formed an electric partnership – the pace to Behrens’ power. 

Together, they have maintained Union’s European push and with three goals and two assists between them last time out at home, they have secured a momentous place in the Europa League at the very least. 

Ahead of the game, Fischer has said it is “already the best season Union have had” but acknowledge that there is one last “difficult” hurdle to create even more history.

Opportunities in front of goal against the visitors will be few and far between so both Becker and Behrens will need to be at their best.

However, with Knoche fit and set to take a central supporting role alongside the home fans driving the players on, Fischer says “It’s in our hands.”

Werder Bremen – Niclas Fullkrug

Niclas Fullkrug has 16 goals at 2.8 shots per game and five assists for Werder Bremen.

If he plays, and it is a big if, Fullkrug will lead the line for the visitors.

Having only completed 90 minutes once since early April due to injury, Bundesliga’s top-scorer will be hoping to make one last appearance for the newly promoted side.

In front of goal, Fullkrug has been clinical. Before his injury, the German striker had scored 10 in his previous 15 matches and lifted his side to safety. 

He has also cemented his place in the international team with three goals in friendlies against Belgium and Peru, and has garnered international interest for his goal-scoring exploits.

Saturday may prove to be his final game in green but it will not be the last we see of Niclas Fullkrug.

In the goal-scoring form of his career, the 30-year-old has taken his chance on the world stage and will relish the opportunity to do what no other Bundesliga striker has been able to do this season: beat Union in Berlin.

  • Match Details

Where is the game being played?

The game is being played at the home of Union, Stadion An der Altern Försterei in Berlin

What time is kick-off?

The match kicks off at 14:30 BST on Saturday. 

How can I watch?

The game will be unavailable in the UK.

With the TV cameras trained on the top of the Bundesliga table as Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich go head-to-head for the title, you can follow all the news and views of what is happening around Germany right here on VAVEL UK as Bundesliga reaches its conclusion.

It is set to be a Bundesliga climax unlike any other so strap in and hold on tight.