Football Bundesliga: 1. FC Union Berlin: In the constant rain in Mainz, the minimum goal

Union’s Robin Gosens was once able to decisively escape Mainz.

Photo: imago/Matthias Koch

Nenad Bjelica was stunned: The coach of 1. FC Union Berlin jumped up in despair in a box at the Mainz Arena when new signing Yorbe Vertessen miserably missed the winning goal in the final phase of the catch-up game at 1. FSV Mainz 05. So it remained 1-1 on Wednesday evening, which Union’s footballers used as a minimum goal in the Bundesliga’s relegation battle significantly more than the hosts.

For Bjelica it was the last game of his three-match ban after the Croatian got in the face of Munich offensive player Leroy Sane twice in the game at FC Bayern. The suffering in the stands is now over. On Saturday in the home game against VfL Wolfsburg, he will be able to intervene directly on the edge of the pitch again – and actively defend his job. In Mainz, assistant coach Marie-Louise Eta answered questions for the last time. »It was an interesting task. Now Nenad is at it again. It’s good if the head coach can also be on the sidelines,” said Eta.

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After one of Berlin’s many poor performances in the 2-0 defeat at RB Leipzig last Sunday, including the sending off of captain Christopher Trimmel, the coaching staff had to find a solution for the right full-back position. Because Josip Juranovic has also been out injured for some time, Janik Haberer was chosen. In the heavy rain, the midfielder, who has rarely been effective this season, put in a strong performance – and also set up Robin Gosens’ equalizer in stoppage time in the first half. However, Union will have to look for a new right-back again for the match against Wolfsburg. Like defense chief Kevin Vogt, Haberer received his fifth warning.

Constantly changing lineups due to suspensions and injuries are one of the reasons why the Berliners have been in the bottom third of the table for months. At least Köpenicker found their home strength again. There has been no defeat in the An der Alten Försterei stadium for four games. Things remain complicated away from home: Even the second-to-last team in the table, who remained winless for the tenth time in a row, couldn’t make it three points.

Union was certainly unlucky that Kevin Volland only hit the crossbar and the post. But: The recovered goalkeeper Frederik Rönnow once again prevented a defeat. Mainz were also denied a penalty after Berlin defender Robin Knoche kicked striker Ludovic Ajorque. After the hosts’ opening goal by Jonathan Burkardt in the eighth minute of stoppage time in the first half, the worst had to be feared from the perspective of the 1,400 Union supporters who had traveled with them. But Gosens was able to give his team self-confidence again in the 13th minute of overtime in the first half with Berlin’s first away goal in almost eleven hours.

The long injury time was related to the Union ultras’ protest against the DFL’s investor plans. In the 38th minute, the first tennis balls, bouncy balls and plastic coins flew onto the lawn. Whenever the stewards and ball boys had cleaned the pitch, the supporters stepped up and the game was interrupted. The delay not only upset a few Mainz supporters among the 26,200 spectators. Union national player Gosens also wanted to continue playing. He gestured at fans to stop throwing things. He later said: “There are emotions involved too. There is a fan view that I can completely understand. You have every right in the world to protest. But there is also a perspective from the players who froze their asses off for almost 20 minutes.

The Ultras receive support from Dirk Zingler. Union President, who sat in Bjelica’s box, called for a new vote on Thursday on the entry of an investor into the DFL. Other clubs like VfB Stuttgart see it similarly. This topic remains just as exciting as the relegation battle in the Bundesliga.

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