Union Berlin are still unbeaten this season in the Bundesliga in their own classic stadium with plenty of standing room. Bayern Munich fought to a draw (1-1) and Borussia Dortmund (2-0) and RB Leipzig (2-1) lost in the capital. Only the Belgian Union won this year’s football with the Dutch team Sheraldo Becker and Danilho Doekhi.
Optimistic as he is, Dusan Tadic believes in the good outcome of the diptych. The Ajax captain sticks to Sunday’s fine performance against Sparta Rotterdam, who also arrived in the Johan Cruijff ArenA without any attacking intentions. “If we play like that in Germany, then it should work,” he thinks.
As static as Ajax played football against Union, he swung so nimbly through Sparta’s back line. Tadic was constantly available and directed Steven Bergwijn, Mohammed Kudus, Davy Klaassen and Kenneth Taylor towards the opposing goal. In the home game against Union Berlin, Ajax looked so frightened by a quick counter that they barely dared to lose the ball. Risk-free play resulted in a sleepy spectacle with zero goal attempts.
“Of course we will shoot there,” coach John Heitinga remains hopeful. “But we’ll have to do it differently than in the home game. We’ll have to get them running. Otherwise, they’ll be standing too easily.”
Union Berlin doesn’t just rely on a solid defence, which has conceded the fewest goals against Bayern Munich this season in the Bundesliga. The club are currently also level on points with Bayern and Dortmund as they can counter with lightning speed. Calvin Bassey is expected to return to Ajax’s basic line-up. He probably needs to keep top scorer Becker and his teammates away from goalkeeper Gerónimo Rulli and be very careful with free-kicks and corners.
Edson Álvarez, if he has recovered from a shoulder injury, will then move into midfield. It looks like either Klaassen or Taylor has to make way for the Mexican. Taylor was favored by his manager in the home game against Union Berlin last week. Klaassen entered reasonably and scored more often than his teammate. But Heitinga may keep him, like Brian Brobbey, as a replacement.