Urs Fischer was outwardly unmoved by Christian Streich’s eulogy and in almost three seasons in the Bundesliga, the coach of 1. FC Union has gotten a certain amount of practice with compliments from his colleagues. Unlike Streich, Fischer is not the type for public outbursts of emotion, but he will certainly have enjoyed the Freiburger’s words. All the more so because it would probably have been signed by any coach in the Bundesliga.
“If someone had asked me before the season whether Union would get back into the European Cup, I would have said: I have a lot of confidence in them, but how are you supposed to do that?” said Streich after his team’s 4-1 loss to Union that the Berliners will be represented internationally again in the coming season. “I don’t know how they did it, but they did it. I can only take off all hats.”
In public, Fischer likes to stack low, big declarations of war are not his thing. But don’t let that fool you. The Swiss is an absolute competitor, ambitious and ambitious. But even Fischer should not have expected such a season, not even dreamed of it.
Within a year, Union lost six important players with Robert Andrich, Christopher Lenz, Christian Gentner, Nico Schlotterbeck, Max Kruse and Marvin Friedrich. Thanks to the Conference League, the first half of the season felt like a single, never-ending English week. But the Berliners not only confirmed the outstanding past season, they even topped it. “Madness,” said Fischer. “We qualified for Europe for the second time, it’s really something extraordinary.”
Grischa Prömel, who scored the important 1-0 early on in Freiburg, was also enthusiastic. “The fact that we are represented internationally for the second year in a row is unbelievable and shows how well the team works here,” said the central midfielder. In his penultimate game for Union, Prömel seamlessly continued his outstanding performances of the past few months. “It’s crazy how Prömel defends,” even Streich became enthusiastic.
In the coming season, Prömel will play for Hoffenheim – and only nationally. TSG missed out on qualifying for the European Cup due to their recent weakness and the strong results from Union. But the 27-year-old Swabian has not left the slightest doubt since his free transfer was announced in February that he will only think of 1. FC Union until the last day of his contract term. “We celebrate every victory, we’ll definitely celebrate this one a little more exuberantly,” said Prömel. “I heard the coach is giving two days off. That’s always well received by the team – and then we’ll focus on Bochum.”
Despite all the reasons to be happy, Union still have a great chance in their own stadium next Saturday. After participating in the Conference League in the current season, a win on the last day of the game is enough to be able to compete in a class higher in the future: in the Europa League. That would also have the advantage that the Berliners would not have to start with the play-offs in August, but only a few weeks later for the group phase. When Fischer was even asked about the Champions League on Saturday, he gave a typical answer: “It’s not up to us to dream, it’s up to us to deliver.”
On paper, the task against Bochum looks easy. For VfL, at the end of a very good season, nothing matters anymore and Union is a force at home. But Fischer deliberately refers to the last home game against relegated Fürth, in which the Berliners got a point with a lot of luck. “A week ago we were disappointed because we didn’t manage to win against Fürth. Today we did something almost impossible,” said the Union coach. “In football things can happen quickly.”
However, the final evaluation of the season will only marginally affect the outcome of the last game. The Berliners have already far exceeded expectations – and not just those of Christian Streich.