A little more calm returned to Prague on Friday afternoon. By then, at the latest, most of the more than 3,000 supporters of 1. FC Union Berlin were on their way home again. Many of them had besieged the Golden City since Wednesday. At tourist hotspots such as Charles Bridge, Prague Castle and Old Town Square, the red and white club colors of the Köpenickers were part of the cityscape for around 48 hours. Only the Union graffito on the banks of the Vltava will certainly stay a while longer.
The first game of the Iron in the group stage of the Europa Conference League drew old and young Unioners under its spell. The Ultras were also at the start again. Not only because the European Cup games are an absolute highlight of the club after 20 years of abstinence. The active fan scene also moved in closed because tickets could be purchased on the open market. In addition, after successful 3G verification in the Sinobo Stadium, one did not have to wear a mask.
The 15,286 visitors ensured a great atmosphere in Prague’s continuous rain, which did not spare the audience despite the roof. The 3-1 defeat of their team did not change anything for the Berlin spectators. They honored the great fight of the Berlin team from captain Christopher Trimmel, also because the guests had to act outnumbered for one half after the yellow-red card for central defender Paul Jaeckel.
Collective freaking out
After the final whistle, Union was celebrated with chants for a full eight minutes. If Trimmel hadn’t taken the initiative and led the players off the field, it would have gone on like this for longer. “The fans would also celebrate us if we lost 5-0. For them this is also a bonus competition that we won last year. Nevertheless we want to take something with us, ”said attacker Max Kruse. »The support is an important plus for us. You saw how many were here again. The next Thursdays are sure to be just as atmospheric. “
After the 1: 1 draw in the meantime, Union was facing a respectable success in Group E, in which Maccabi Haifa and Feyenoord Rotterdam split 0-0 on Tuesday. The substitute attacker Kevin Behrens had caused a collective freaking out of the fans in the 70th minute when he successfully completed a nice combination over the also substituted offensive players Andreas Voglsammer and Sheraldo Becker.
But then the Czech champions struck back with goals from Jan Kuchta (84th) and Ivan Schranz (88th). He made Union symbolically naked – in a phase in which hundreds of Slavia Ultras had just taken off their tops.
First loss of the season
“It took us a moment to get into the game. Then it got better until the yellow-red card came. We paid a little hardship, ”said Berlin trainer Urs Fischer, summarizing the game without showing any great disappointment. »The team did very well in the second half and more than deserved this equalization. In the end there was a bit of bad luck. The 2: 1 came about by chance. It’s a shame we didn’t take anything with us. “
For Union there was the first defeat in a competitive game this season in Prague. It doesn’t have to be a setback. But the upcoming Bundesliga task on Sunday (5.30 p.m.) at Borussia Dortmund is tough. Union arrives as a blatant outsider. Fischer is also likely to rotate in some positions. Maybe not as fast players as Trimmel and Kruse will get a break from the bench.
Nevertheless, the Wuhlheider do not want to speak of a triple burden from the European Cup. “The most important thing is that it’s fun. For us it is never a burden. Everyone wants to be there. And when you enjoy what you do, you develop strengths that you never knew before, «said President Dirk Zingler. “It feels sensationally good. We have come a long way, the fans, the entire club, the employees, the club management. Now we’re playing in Europe. It is a great feeling.”