The weekend is here again and a tantalising set of fixtures lie ahead of us over the course of the next few days. It’s been an exciting start to the season across the divisions and we currently see 2 of Ost-Berlin’s big boys leading their respective divisions as 1.FC Union Berlin’s 1-0 win away in Ingolstadt last Sunday took them to the unprecedented dizzy new heights of 1st place in the 2.Bundesliga whilst BFC Dynamo stretched their winning streak to 5 games out of 5 to put them in a comfortable and commanding position at the top of the Oberliga Nord. With these facts in mind, both of these clubs feature in what must be the games of the weekend in der Hauptstadt.
It all begins tonight down in Koepenick in what is probably the biggest game in Germany this weekend, as league leaders, 1.FC Union Berlin welcome last years relegated side and early season favourites Greater Fuerth to the Alte Foeresterei. This match is, even at this early stage of a long campaign, a massive 6 pointer in the promotion stakes and will be the first great indicator for Die Eiserner as to whether they are going to be able to sustain their fantastic start to the season and really compete with some of the bigger names and bigger budgets in the division. Union will be buoyed by the fact that they have been able to grind out some hard fought wins in some very even matches and will hope that the momentum from last weekend and the inevitable noisy buzz around the ground will help them to push on and continue with a home performance in the same vein as the home victories against St Pauli and Fortuna Duesseldorf. Team news at the moment is that Union will be without 2 first team players this evening as Mario Eggiman and Björn Jopek are still out with long term injuries. Otherwise, they are at full strength and will know that on their day, in front of a packed home crowd, they are very well set up to beat anyone. The fun starts at 18.30 and the game takes place at the beautiful Stadion An der Alten Försterei (https://berlinhopper.wordpress.com/2013/09/12/club-and-stadium-report-1-fc-union-berlin/) Tickets should be available at the Union Tanke although it is advised to get down their early as the top of the league fever is likely to make this game a sell out. If you fancy a beer with an international crowd, there is a large group of people from England and Sweden including myself meeting in the Abseitsfalle before and after the game.
After this evenings antics, it is hard to imagine what sort of state I will be in come the morning but what better tonic for a hangover is there than a trip to the lovely and characterful Hans-Zoschke Stadion, home of SV Lichtenberg 47. Tomorrow, “Siebenvierzig” welcome BFC Dynamo who, as mentioned earlier, are on a fantastic run of form and really are the team to beat in this seasons Oberliga Nord. At this stage of the season, it is hard to see passed Volkan Ulic’s boys in this rematch of last seasons Berliner Pokal final. The home side have struggled to get out of the blocks as quickly as they would have hoped for and have so far struggled to replicate last season’s heroics under the recently departed Daniel Volbert. With only one win under their belt, Lichtenberg need to start picking up points soon if they are to push themselves in to a top of the table battle as opposed to a scrap for relegation. One talking point tomorrow will be the return of last season’s best player and for me, one of the best young talents in Berlin football at the moment, Lukas Rehben. A favourite at 47 last term, Rehben is a tricky little player with bags of pace and he has been sorely missed by Lichtenberg in the opening few games. It will be very interesting to see how he performs against his former club but one can only expect a warm welcome for last season’s player of the year. Dynamo’s excellent form is well documented so far and with a solid defensive unit only conceding 3 goals so far this season, they really are on track to find themselves in the already Berlin dominated Regionalliga Nordost next year. Football aside, we should expect a good day out at the Zoschke tomorrow as BFC Dynamo have seen crowds soar this season and I can’t see the short trip from Hohenschoenhausen to Lichtenberg being much of an issue for the hardened, vocal and dedicated following in Weinrot-Weiss. The match kicks off at 14:00 and takes place at the Hans-Zoschke Stadion (nearest S-Bahn/U-Bahn – Frankfurter Allee or Magadalenastrasse).
Finally this weekend, with the risk of sounding like a broken record, Tennis Borussia Berlin make the trip up to the VfB Hermsdorf in a BerlinLiga clash on Sunday afternoon. After last Friday nights fantastic win at home to Staaken, TeBe really are looking like a very formidable side and I truly feel, despite the inherent pessimism in Eichkamp, that they are one of the favourites to lift the BerlinLiga trophy. Similarly to Union, they do need to play one of the other top sides in the division to really prove themselves but in the meantime, if Mickey Fuss keeps banging them in, Fabien Thokomeni keeps bombing down the wing and delivering beautiful crosses and Alexander Kynass keeps putting up a massive, attractive, human barrier in front of the goal, TeBe will do no harm to their promotion dreams. Following last weekends thumping 5-0 defeat at the hands of league leaders Eintracht Mahlsdorf, the Arsenal lookalikes from Hermsdorf will be looking to right so many wrongs and get their campaign back on track. They were truly awful last time out and managed to completely lose focus after the first goal had gone in. If they perform like that again, it could be a long hard and potentially devastating season for the BerlinLiga’s longest serving club but as any league regular can tell you, it is a very open division where anyone can genuinely beat anyone else so although last weekend they were absolutely deplorable to watch, it’s impossible to say what type of Hermsdorf side will turn up on Sunday. The game kicks off at 14:00 and will take place at the Seebadstrasse Stadion (nearest S-Bahn – Berlin-Hermsdorf).
So, as always, I wish you a great weekend of football action and hope that wherever you get to that the weather holds out and the goals are as free flowing as the beer.