Union Berlin title odds – Another miracle imminent?
UNION BERLIN TITLE ODDS – ANOTHER MIRACLE IMMINENT? – And so we reach the final stretch of this six-part Bundesliga season preview. After last week’s somewhat conservative predictions, it’s fair to say that I’ve left the most controversial calls until last.
Fans of the ‘Iron Ones’, get your mob torches ready…
Just four years ago, Union Berlin were preparing for their Bundesliga debut. And while those in the know were quietly confident about them surviving, nobody could have foreseen the surge to come.
Following Hertha Berlin’s relegation in May, Union are now the German capital’s undisputed top dogs. But with elite status comes responsibility…
There’s a nagging sense of ‘too much, too soon’ surrounding Urs Fischer’s men. Teams without the existing stature of a top-four club often find their time amongst the elite to be fleeting.
The notable underdog champions of the 2000s alone – Wolfsburg, Bremen and Stuttgart – provide sufficient testimony to this, with the latter two even being relegated since winning the title.
- Founded: 1906
- Stadium: Stadion An der Alten Försterei
- Capacity: 22,012
- Notable honors: FDGB-Pokal (East German Cup) (1968)
- Nickname: Die Eisernen (The Iron Ones)
- Last season: 4th
- Union Berlin title odds: +8,000
Back in early February, Union Berlin had a golden chance of going top, and much of that was down to the dynamic pace of Sheraldo Becker. He ended up second for maximum speed, behind the record-breaking Dortmund man Karim Adeyemi and second for total sprints.
He’s obviously vital in ensuring Union Berlin minimize the impact of a maiden Champions League appearance on their domestic campaign. However, even the promise of dueling with Europe’s titans might not be enough to keep him at the club long term.
Predicted finish: 9th
A five-place dip on 2022/23 would be disappointing, but not unexpected.
Simply put, Union just don’t have the depth and resources of Bayern, Dortmund et al, the likes of which are needed to make top-four challenges a regular occurrence.
While there’s no impostor syndrome at play, Union aren’t quite ready for this just yet. Current Union Berlin title odds somewhat reflect those feelings, though I’d put them closer to +15,000:
When a team containing a golden boot winner can only reach the meager heights of 13th, there’s something badly lacking. But in the case of Werder Bremen, it was simply a case of downing tools once survival had been all but attained, following a 3-0 win over Bochum in late February.
Bremen have won just once since that blockbuster performance, while additionally failing to record a single shutout. It’s all the more frustrating in the context of Saturday’s result, which saw them thump French Cup winners Toulouse 5-2 in a pre-season exhibition.
And the Green-Whites’ chances of getting off to a good start look slim, with day one seeing them host none other than champions Bayern Munich.
As shown below, the River Islanders fought bravely in last season’s corresponding clash. But Bremen’s winless hoodoo against Bayern is very likely to see its 15th birthday in September.
- Founded: 1899
- Stadium: Weserstadion
- Capacity: 42,100
- Notable honors: Bundesliga (x4), DFB-Pokal (x6), European Cup Winners’ Cup (1992)
- Nickname: Die Werderaner (The River Islanders) / Die Grün-Weißen (The Green-Whites)
- Last season: 13th
- Werder Bremen title odds: +50,000
If Niclas Füllkrug goes without being replaced, Bremen are in huge trouble. Amongst his 16 league goals last term were five matchwinners, without which they would have been demoted with a wooden spoon.
Right now, he’s scoring about once every other game on average. And with his well-documented potent strike partnership alongside Marvin Ducksch about to enter its third full season, he seems to be the difference between life and death for yet another underachieving ‘giant’ of German soccer.
That said, new arrival and Polish international Dawid Kownacki has netted in every pre-season game so far since joining from second-tier Dusseldorf.
Predicted finish: 12th
A one-place improvement on last season is the call here, and there is no expectation of genuine trouble as things stand. That defense is a concern though…
Lastly, we have a club without European distractions that should see the likes of Freiburg and Union Berlin as prey. In 2022/23, the Wolves were the highest finishers not to get into a European competition, after a four-place leap from a poor preceding campaign.
It was also their fourth top-eight finish in five seasons, so there is a clear culture of positive squad maintenance at the VW Arena. The highlight of last season was a ten-match unbeaten run in the league.
That included a monstrous start to 2023, where they hit a total of 11 unanswered goals past Freiburg and Hertha Berlin!
And while three defeats in Wolfsburg’s final four outings of 2022/23 ultimately made the season look like a damp squib, they never endured particularly desolate runs of form.
- Founded: 1945
- Stadium: Volkswagen Arena
- Capacity: 30,000
- Notable honors: Bundesliga (2009), DFB-Pokal (2015)
- Nickname: Die Wölfe (The Wolves)
- Last season: 8th
- Werder Bremen title odds: +15,000
The loss of midfield maestro Felix Nmecha to Dortmund for 30m euros is going to sting for a while. But there has already been some fair activity, with exciting Czech newcomer Václav Černý amongst the first tranche of arrivals.
A product of Dutch club Ajax’s incredible youth academy, the 25-year-old winger arrived from FC Twente on July 1st. During his time with the Enschede outfit, he plundered 20 goals from 66 games – a very encouraging return for a wide boy.
And his hit rate at international level (10 caps, four goals) is even better! He’s definitely one to watch.
Predicted finish: 6th
If Černý clicks immediately with the usual frontmen, then it’s hard not to imagine Niko Kovač – a Bundesliga title winner on both sides of the touchline – thoroughly enjoying his sophomore season as Wolfsburg coach.
Without European duties to distract them, a return to the top-six is the bare minimum Wolfsburg should be targeting.
Tune in next week for…
Next week I’ll be taking a look at the big moves of the summer transfer window. Were Leipzig right to splash out so much on Openda? Will Leverkusen’s influx get them back amongst the European elite? Watch this space!
In the meantime. You can look back through every part of this 2023/24 Bundesliga preview series by clicking on my bio below.