Union Berlin is simply unstoppable. After an intense battle, the Irons also won the DFB Cup. An early lead is of no use to opponents Wolfsburg. And all this after the surprising failure of the Berlin sensations transfer.
If the dream transfer doesn't work out, then at least the title dream should live on: Union Berlin ends a wild day with a willful victory in the DFB Cup. VfL Wolfsburg with its coaching giant Niko Kovac, previously 16 wins in a row in the competition, is defeated 2-1 (1-1) in front of a trembling backdrop at the Alte Försterei. The early deficit, Luca Waldschmidt had scored after five minutes, irritated Urs Fischer's team only briefly. The longer the game lasted in terrible weather conditions, the more union became union. The collective bit into it and turned the battle-heavy game. The completely alone ex-Wolfsburg player Robin Knoche scored from a corner (12th), before Kevin Behrens (79th) brought about the decision. Behrens, there is no better alternative to the steamed-off dream transfer.
Isco had put the capital in ecstasy on Tuesday. Until his arrival in Köpenick, the football world had taken the rumor about the clubless Real icon as a very clever joke at the end of the winter transfer phase. But then he was suddenly there, had passed the medical check - and flew home again. According to Union, his advisors had spontaneously made demands that the Berliners did not want to meet. And so the dream of the first star with a worldwide reputation (despite a serious career break), who won the Champions League five times with Real Madrid, was shattered at the Alte Försterei. But not the dream of the first cup triumph. And so the truth in the stormy rain of Köpenick looked like this: If you have the down-to-earth Behrens, you don't need a diva-like Isco!
Kevin Behrens, who had already won the Lower Rhine State Cup in his life and had become Bremen League and Regional League West champion, pushed the ball over the line from two meters after a perfect placement by Sheraldo Becker. A gate without any splendor, but one of will. A goal, perfectly suited to Union Berlin. Just like this guy Behrens, whom the club brought from second division SV Sandhausen in the summer of 2021. A transfer from which hardly anyone had promised anything big. Unlike Isco would have been the case. A reversal of the drop height.
And even if the man who had played for Werder Bremen III (!), Rot-Weiss Essen, 1. FC Saarbrücken and Sandhausen in his life was the hero of the evening, they talked more about it in Köpenick the man who was no longer there. Maybe Isco was circling in his private jet (according to the "Bild" newspaper he had come with) somewhere over Berlin, maybe he saw the floodlights and the iconic stadium from a dizzy height. And maybe he found that his track record of success (despite a career slump) was somehow wrong when he was looking for a new challenge. Royal finesse and Köpenicker hardship, that would have been an interesting puzzle. And no one knows if it would ever have fit. The line between danger for the perfectly working collective and Max Kruse Vibes 2.0 would have been very narrow.
But now the topic is finally over, and the Unioners are also looking at a transfer phase that they cannot necessarily grasp themselves. Sandhausen is no longer the shelf from which the club serves itself, but now the World Cup is a welcome showcase to strengthen the squad. The Qatar participants Aïssa Laïdouni (Tunisia) and Josip Juranovic come for around 13 million euros. The Croatian, who started against Wolfsburg, immediately showed what flank qualities he has as a right-back. He prepared Knoche's equalizer with a sharp and precise cross at the far post. He had seen the centre-back slipping away from his guards.
Everything has been written and said about what has developed so miraculously in Köpenick in recent years. And yet it still seems so inconceivable that the club is actually a real Bayern hunter this season, when the topic of staying up in the league has been discussed with top priority before every season. The gap to the record champions is only one point. The team has recovered well from a brief period of weakness in the first half of the season. For the time being, no one will use the word champion, but the knowledge of their own quality and reputation is now deeply rooted. "That a world star like Isco could imagine playing for Union Berlin would have been a great story. But we still have a great team," said midfielder Rani Khedira, another man with a typical Union promotion story. At the Alte Försterei he matured into a candidate for the DFB team.
Just as Julian Ryerson had matured into a man who should solve BVB's full-back and maybe also a little the recurring mentality problems. Colleague Stephan Uersfeld wrote a few days ago that the Bundesliga is looking for the stuff that made Union so great. Isco would have been the next step. A turning point. With an unclear outcome. But also "off the table" and "everything is fine", as Khedira, who had set up Behrens' goal with a buttery cross, found it. Coach Urs Fischer also saw that his footballers had "taken care of it well". He also asked himself the question, "Do you have to play on this last day of the transfer window," said the Union coach: "It wasn't the best day, but it's part of it. What matters is how you deal with it." Isco? Behrens!
(This article was first published on Wednesday, February 01, 2023.)