Manuel Veth –
Stuttgart v Union Berlin or 180 minutes of fear as the Relegation Playoffs to determine the final spot in the 2019/20 Bundesliga season kicked off on Thursday at the Mercedes-Benz Stadion in Stuttgart. After a hard fought match Union Berlin will take a small advantage back to Berlin.
- Stuttgart go ahead twice
- Union comeback kings
- It is now advantage for die Eisernen
Stuttgart v Union Berlin
Goals: 1-0 (Christian Gentner, 43’), 1-1 (Suleiman Abdullahi, 44’), 2-1 (Mario Gomez, 51′), 2-2 (Marvin Friedrich, 68′)
It was a very physical start to the match in which Stuttgart had the first chance. “Every player understood what was at stake in this match,” Stuttgart head coach Nico Willig said after the match.
The Swabians certainly started dominant. In the 5th minute, Daniel Didavi won the ball in the middle of the park and found Anastasios Donis open in the box, and Rafal Gikiewicz had to do well to keep the shot out.
Stuttgart were pressing fuelled by the incredible atmosphere inside the Mercedes-Benz Arena. But while Stuttgart were dominating the action, they struggled to get into dangerous areas as Union did well to keep the Swabians out of their box.
In fact, the next two significant chances fell to Union. In the 21st minute, Suleiman Abdullahi brought in a dangerous ball from the right but Sebastian Andersson saw his shot tipped over the bar. Then in the 27th minute, Andersson was once again open, this time with the cross coming from the left, but his shot was right on Ziegler.
Die Eisernen only had about 39% possession at this point, but the team from the capital was the more dangerous. Nonetheless, it would be Stuttgart to strike first in what was an unbelievable minute of football that would see both teams strike in quick succession between the 43rd and 44th minute.
First, Donis left three Union defenders in the dust in an incredible sprint down the right, his cross found Christian Gentner, whose low shot beat Gikiewicz. But Union struck right back with Suleiman Abdullahi equalising almost straight from kickoff converting a high ball easily inside the box.
“That goal was important for our team,” Urs Fischer said after the game. “It gave us the belief that we could compete,” he added.
Nico Willig reacted at halftime and brought on Mario Gomez, and the striker had his first chance in the 48th minute. The striker, however, was just a step behind a low cross brought in from the left. But just three minutes later the striker would not be denied as Gomez tanked his way through Union’s defence and eventually beat Gikiewicz thanks to a deflection by Marvin Friedrich.
It was now advantage Stuttgart. But Union’s away goal meant that this was a dangerous result and, as a result, the Swabians continued to press for an extra goal. As a result, Union Berlin had chances to counter and in the 68th minute scored the equaliser.
This time Friedrich was the hero. Union broke forward after a counter and won a counter. Brought in from the left Friedrich would rise the highest and beat Ziegler with a placed header making up for his mistake that resulted in Gomez’s goal.
Both sides were now looking for the winner. Nicolas Gonzalez in the 78th tested Gikiewicz with a flying header, and on the other side, Andersson tested Ziegler with a shot from 30-yards out that Ziegler had to tip over the bar.
Stuttgart now had to roll the dice. 2-2 was not a good enough result to take back to Berlin, and in the 86th minute they had one final chance, but Gikiewicz jumped on a dangerous ball inside the six-yard box just before Gomez could get there.
In fact, it was Union, who had the last chance in injury time but Ziegler salvaged a draw for the Swabians. “It is halftime,” Fischer said.
“Overall, the draw is a deserved result,” Willig said after the game. “For us, it is important to get up and understand that it is only halftime. It is a bit like a boxing match and we have to get back up,” he added.
Stuttgart v Union Berlin – Man of the Match
Anastasios Donis was the man of the match. The Greek forward assisted Stuttgart’s opener with a fantastic solo over 60-yards and throughout the 90 minutes was Stuttgart’s dangerman. Donis will have to carry this sort of performance to Berlin to rescue Stuttgart’s season.
Stuttgart v Union Berlin – Talking Point
Stuttgart will be heading back to Berlin with plenty of questions to answer. Union Berlin, in fact, went toe-to-toe with the Bundesliga side and will now be the favourites back at the Alten Försterei in Berlin. Stuttgart, in the meantime, highlighted why they have struggled all season as they lacked consequence and creed throughout the 90 minutes. “We have respect ahead of the second match,” Willig said. “Respect alone won’t be enough, we also need guts otherwise we won’t survive in Berlin,” Willig said.
⚽️#FCUnion with the advantage
⚽️#VfB’s Donis with an incredible assist
⚽️Union go toe-to-toe with Stuttgart pic.twitter.com/KShVEbpXeu
— Manuel Veth (@ManuelVeth) May 23, 2019
Stuttgart v Union Berlin – Match Stats
- Since the play-off was reintroduced to determine the final promotion/relegation position between the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2, the top-flight team has retained their status on eight out of 10 occasions.
- Union Berlin drew Stuttgart 1-1 the last time the two sides met in Berlin, that result would be enough for Union.
- Mario Gomez scores once again, as he also scored for Wolfsburg two years ago, but this time his goal was not a winner.
Stuttgart v Union Berlin – Line-ups
Coach: Nico Willig
Gikiewicz – Trimmel, Friedrich, Parensen, Reichel – Prömel, Schmiedebach (Kroos, 84′), Zulj – Abdullahi (Gogia, 81′), Andersson, Hartel (Mees, 60′)
Coach: Urs Fischer
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and among others contributes to Forbes.com and Pro Soccer USA. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which is available HERE. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.