After serving a suspension, Nenad Bjelica, the coach of 1. FC Union Berlin, returned to his coaching zone during the first game. His actions during the game – pacing, gesticulating, pointing at his watch, waving at the referee and fourth official – reflected the tension he felt. His relief was evident when his team secured a 1-0 win against VfL Wolfsburg on Saturday. He expressed his joy and relief after the game, stating how he felt comfortable and able to contribute from the sidelines.
The coach’s suspension had left him feeling powerless in the stands, but his return to work was met with positivity.
Despite the focus on the protest with tennis balls that almost led to the game being abandoned, 1. FC Union chose to focus on the joy of their victory. The win was seen as a crucial step in the relegation battle. Robin Knoche, after his 300th Bundesliga game, acknowledged the importance of the win but also reminded everyone of the long season ahead.
With the victory, Union has managed to keep up with lower midfield and slowly increase their safety cushion on the relegation zone. Ever since Bjelica took over as coach, only six teams have been more successful than Union. However, Bjelica is not ready to relax in the relegation battle just yet.
Only when we cross the finish line, will I be able to relax and laugh again.
Nenad Bjelica, coach of 1. FC Union, commenting on the ongoing relegation battle
The team’s improved performance is credited to their home strength, defensive stability, and goals from set pieces. The recent switch to a three-man chain has also helped bring back the team’s security. Players like Rani Khedira and Andras Schäfer, who are crucial for balance and pressing, are fit again.
Luck also played a part in Union’s fourth consecutive home win, the third without conceding a goal. Despite the dominance of Wolfsburg and the clearer chances they had, Union’s defense held up. Their offense still needs work, but the overall defensive stability is a positive.
Danilho Doekhi, who scored the winning goal, is another player who has made a successful comeback after a two-and-a-half month injury break. His header from a corner by Kevin Volland was a reminder of his previous successes.
Knoche and Bjelica praised Doekhi’s performance and highlighted the importance of scoring from set pieces.
Following a strong performance, the team was given two days off. The challenge now is to replicate their home success in an away game, with their last victory on the road dating back to August.
Knoche stated that while it’s important to be stable at home, earning points away is equally important. Union’s next opportunity to do so is on Saturday in Hoffenheim.