Union Berlin v Freiburg – Stadion An der Alten Försterei at 14:30 GMT+1
Union Berlin made their Bundesliga bow in August with a total of 395 games of top-flight experience spread across their starting XI, 377 of them belonging to Christian Gentner. The newcomers fought valiantly but their resistance was broken early against RB Leipzig who eventually ran out cushy 4-0 winners.
The capital club responded to their opening day defeat with four points from a trip to Augsburg (1-1) before upsetting the odds to deservedly defeat Dortmund (3-1) in Berlin. However, Union followed September’s international break with four straight losses to slide down the Bundesliga standings.
The Berlin boys won promotion under Urs Fisher, who built his side around a solid defence, boasting the 2. Bundesliga’s strongest backline that conceded nine strikes fewer than the next best side. But the opening exchanges to 2019/20 suggest Union could fall short as they step up in class against top-level outfits.
Already the hosts are ranked inside the bottom-three for Expected Goals (xG), xG from open play and shots inside the penalty box with their ratio returns barely above 30% for both xG metrics. Fisher clearly has a tall order on his hands and Saturday’s showdown with Freiburg promises to be another tough tussle.
Freiburg have been the early surprise package in Germany, with their 14 points from their first seven games a club record in the Bundesliga. No matter the result in Berlin, that record will stand after eight matches, although the Black Forest club will be keen to enhance their 100% road record at Union here.
It’s been a remarkable turnaround from Christian Streich’s side. Only the bottom three had a worse record on the road than Freiburg last term, while the year before only Koln earnt fewer than their dismal nine-point output on their travels. Hoffenheim, Fortuna and Paderborn have already been dispatched in 2019/20.
The team’s eye-catching efforts have also brought international recognition. Defender Robin Koch won his first Germany cap and striker Luca Waldschmidt made his senior debut for Die Mannschaft during the international break; Freiburg’s top scorer has 13 in his last 16 games for club and country.
The betting angle
There’s still a nervousness about throwing our full support behind Freiburg away from home. The Black Forest boys are punching above their weight and performance data also points towards Streich’s side exceeding expectations at this stage and so I’m more comfortable taking a more measured approach here.
Due to the kind odds on offer, we can back Freiburg with a +0.25 start on the Asian Handicap line at 1.76 on Saturday. Considering the club’s exploits, plus the fact only Koln (five) have scored fewer goals than Union (six), the visitors should be well capable of avoiding defeat and therefore returning profit for our punt.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Freiburg +0.25 at 1.760
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