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The Decisive Matchday


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On the 34th and final matchday of the 2023-24 Bundesliga season, 1. FC Union Berlin will host SC Freiburg. Kick off in the Stadion An der Alten Försterei is on Saturday, 18. May, at 15:30.

The lie of the land

The season’s denouement will prove crucial for Union as all three end of the season possibilities are on the table, whether that be staying up, finishing 16th, and with it entering into the two-legged relegation play-off, or even direct relegation.

To be able to plan for another year with certainty in the Bundesliga, Union need to beat Freiburg while hoping that one of their direct opponents in the table, 1. FSV Mainz and VfL Bochum lose. In the event of finishing level on points with VfL, the better goal difference would favour coach Marco Grote’s team.

Should the Freiburg game end in a draw on Saturday, then Union Berlin would have to decide their future over two matches with Fortuna Düsseldorf.

If, however, they lose against Freiburg and 1. FC Köln win at Heidenheim at the same time, the goal difference will again play a decisive role as both sides would be on 30 points in 16th and 17th place. Union currently have a three goal advantage.

Despite – or perhaps because of – the explosive nature of the game, Union are determined to maintain their aura of invincibility on the final Bundesliga matchday. Since joining the first division, they have collected all three points at the end of the season – always at home.

For their part, Freiburg also have big plans. In addition to bidding farewell to long-serving head coach Christian Streich, the southern Germans are still aiming to qualify for European competition. The team are currently in eighth place in the table with 42 points, just one behind TSG Hoffenheim. However, if the German champions, Leverkusen, win the DFB Pokal next week, eighth place in the table will also entitle them to participate in Europe’s third-largest club competition, the UEFA Conference League.

The opponents

Freiburg have been a model of stability since the start of the season. With the exception of matchdays two (which saw them in 5th place) and four (10th), Streich’s team have always been between 6th and 9th in the table.

Their 44 goals so far have been scored by 15 different players. Vincenzo Grifo and Michael Gregoritsch (with eight goals and seven assists, and seven goals and five assists respectively) have been involved in the most goals, but have not been able to prevent the current run of four games without a win.

The reunions

In addition to Janik Haberer, who made a total of 171 appearances for Freiburg between 2016 and 2022, Alexander Schwolow will also be facing his former employers. The goalkeeper came through the SC youth ranks, going on to make 166 appearances for the professionals.

The personnel

Marco Grote will be missing out on the services of the injured Jérôme Roussillon and the suspended Rani Khedira, but apart from them has the full squad at his disposal.

The coaches’ views ahead of the game

“Freiburg are a good and strong opponent who are not playing for the European places for nothing,” was Union coach, Marco Grote’s assessment of Saturday’s opponents. ”We’re expecting an intense game, as both sides still have something at stake. In the end, however, we can only influence what we have in our own hands and that’s our game against Freiburg.”

His opposite number, Christian Streich, had this to say on his final trip to Union meanwhile. “I’m assuming that the lads will give their all on the pitch at the Alte Försterei. That’s what they’ve done now, they’ve played two good home games. Now we hope that we can make the most of one or two chances in Berlin and finally reward ourselves again. We have to make sure we play a good game.”

Service information

As usual, the Stadion An der Alten Försterei will open two hours before kick-off. The match is sold out in both the home and away sections.

Due to construction work (17.05. to 24.05.2024), a replacement bus service will be run on the S47 line between Spindlersfeld and Baumschulenweg. It is recommended to travel via S-Bahnhof-Köpenick.

The match will be broadcast live on Sky and there will also be an audio stream on rbb24 Inforadio and rbb24. As usual, Union will also provide information about the match via the club’s own live ticker, as well as in English and Spanish on Twitter.

The Decisive Matchday
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