Bundesliga Feature: State of the Union to Last?
After living for generations in the shadow of their illustrious neighbors Hertha Berlin, Urs Fischer’s ever-battling underdogs Union Berlin have now wrested power of the capital.
Slowly but surely, while Hertha have plummeted down the German top-flight, Union have formed a close unit over the four years since they made their Bundesliga debut. Now in their best form yet, the ‘Iron Ones’ began the first full week of February 2023 as champions Bayern Munich’s closest title challengers.
All that leaves but one question… can they keep up their momentum and stun the world?
Bundesliga Futures Show Little Faith
With Union plying their trade at the Bundesliga’s smallest stadium, the 22,000-capacity Stadion An der Alten Försterei, it is plain to see that size matters little when you have total unity.
That coveted trait was on display in abundance once more last Saturday, as Union notched a fourth straight league victory, courtesy of USMNT star Jordan Siebatcheu’s late winner in a 2-1 victory over Mainz last Saturday.
They would be top right now too, had Bayern failed to beat Wolfsburg a day later, but their futures price remains relatively distant for a side sitting second in early February.
In the aftermath of Union’s latest triumph, they were priced by Draft Kings at +3500 in the Bundesliga futures, which marks a significant drift from Bayern’s own price of -1400 at the same point in time.
In fact, such is the skepticism over Union’s ability to pull off one of German football’s greatest shocks, they are only fourth-favorites overall, with Dortmund – last champions back in 2012 – and frequent bridesmaids RB Leipzig commanding more favorable prices.
Union Berlin Projections – February 2023
Current futures prices against Union’s potential title win can only shorten drastically if they keep up their current form, and a trip to RB Leipzig (February 11) is certain to provide the ideal acid test in that regard. Sadly for fans of the Iron Ones, we’ve already predicted a narrow defeat for Union, against a side that is notably unbeaten in 18 competitive matches going back to September.
Union then host hot relegation tips and bottom club Schalke on February 19, and travel to face leaders Bayern a week later in a test that could not be more of a contrast.
Current matchday prices and props suggest that they will go into the latter battle having beaten Schalke comfortably, especially after destroying them 6-1 on their own patch in August.
Conclusion: Union Berlin Bound for Top-Six but Little Else
The harsh truth is that we haven’t seen Bayern at anywhere near their imperious best this season, and yet they still lead the standings. If they hit form in the coming weeks and beat Union later this month, it’s simply game over, and the Reds will stroll to an eleventh successive German crown.
Union Berlin’s chances of ultimate glory are also further complicated by a tricky double header of UEFA Europa League matches against Dutch champions Ajax, who boast an array of talents such as dynamic midfielder Mohamed Kudus who will prove popular in player-specific markets.
The disruptive influence of a changeover in Ajax’s head coach could still play a part in Union’s favour though, and encourage people to turn towards the likes of Sheraldo Becker for any parlay combinations.
As well as being Union’s top Bundesliga scorer this season, he is also a product of Ajax’s famous youth academy, giving his next European trip an extra sense of narrative!
With Urs Fischer’s men having come this far, anything other than another top-six finish – and further European participation in the next campaign – would be a huge disappointment. That said, a shock win at Bayern on the 26th would make a seismic difference to the title race’s overall complexion.
All prices correct as of February 7, 2023.
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