Bundesliga: 1. FC Union vs. Borussia Dortmund: Everything is back to normal

Great pressure and good chances: Union with Benedict Hollerbach (2nd from right) remained goalless against Dortmund.

Photo: imago/Dennis Ewert

The Köpenick footballers from 1. FC Union lost 0-2 against the biggest Borussia in the Bundesliga from Dortmund. And the very short interruption in the game shortly after kick-off in the Alte Försterei, following the experiences of the fan protests in recent weeks, was the result of a yellow pyro show by the visiting fans. So everything is back to normal in German football. The Berlin coach, Nenad Bjelica, was also “satisfied with the performance” of his team on Saturday.

Dortmund’s inadequacies – measured against their own standards – have been the norm for some time. That’s why Borussia’s coach Edin Terzic was said to be facing a “final” in Berlin. At least an ultimatum from the club of four games in which Terzic must deliver results is considered certain. Because the self-proclaimed number one Bayern hunter with title ambitions threatens to lose qualification for the Champions League by finishing fourth in the Bundesliga.

With the victory in Berlin, Edin Terzic is certainly not safer in the Dortmund coaching chair. His Borussia won, but only deserved it because they were a little more effective in front of the goal than the awkward Unioners. This game was decided by Karim Adeyemi’s individual quality: with a single action he made it 1-0 in the 41st minute – with a perfectly struck shot from 20 meters under the crossbar of the Berlin goal. Until then, there was almost nothing to be seen from Dortmund, and even after that, a lot of things remained piecemeal.

Terzic is by no means solely responsible: the team put together with millions-dollar but sometimes seriously overrated players such as Adeyemi, Emre Can, Niklas Süle, Julian Brandt and the returnee Jadon Sancho is not suitable for the top. But that’s where BVB sees itself. Goalkeeper Alexander Meyer underlined this strange self-image after the game against Union Berlin: “We deserved to take the lead and then deserved to win.” And in recent weaker performances, Dortmund “died beautifully.” Maybe Meyer wanted to encourage his team in tough times, but neither statement is accurate.

In Dortmund they thought they could finally satisfy their great longing with Terzic. When he was presented in May 2022, he was BVB’s seventh coach in seven years. All of them failed because of the great shadow of the ideal: Jürgen Klopp had previously reinvented Borussia in seven years. Terzic, who was born 30 kilometers away in Menden, seemed to fit in with his great passion for black and yellow. The word “Malocher” could not be missing from his game analysis on Saturday in Berlin.

But because words don’t win titles, Terzic is also part of Dortmund’s problem. Borussia didn’t really function well as a team for long stretches of the game. She came under pressure again and again against Union because passion for defensive work is not one of her trademarks. And the highly praised offensive only rarely managed to impress its Berlin opponents. Terzic saw it differently, for example with regard to Ian Maatsen’s second goal in the 90th minute. He sold a catastrophic mistake by Josip Juranovic, who was Union’s last man to lose the ball, as a “good pressing action” by his team. After all, he delivered the required result. Terzic now has three games left to dispel the doubts of Dortmund’s officials – in the Bundesliga against Werder Bremen and Eintracht Frankfurt and in between in the second leg of the Champions League round of 16 against PSV Eindhoven.

And Union? In Berlin they are happy to have got the corner with Nenad Bjelica. The Croatian coach was able to stabilize the team defensively and led them from last place in the table to 14th place – nine points ahead of the first relegation place. The attitude is also right, against Dortmund the Unioners ran three kilometers more than their opponents. That’s exactly why the trainer was “satisfied with the way things were done.” The offensive is a cause for concern, with only two teams hitting the opposing goal less often. There were enough chances against BVB, but no goal. Bjelica misses the “efficiency”, while some others miss an offensive alternative. Union sold Sheraldo Becker and Kevin Behrens in the winter, and the new additions Yorbe Vertessen and Chirs Bedia have hardly played a role so far.

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