Svensson: “We will need a complete performance”
Head coach Bo Svensson warns against underestimating a well-drilled Union side on Saturday and discusses the strength of his own squad.
Exactly three months after the emotional Rhein-Main derby on the final day of the 2021/22 season, the Zerofivers are finally returning to the MEWA ARENA. This Sunday, FSV are set to take on 1. FC Union Berlin in their first home game of the campaign (15:30 CEST). Around 25,000 fans are expected to attend and there is a certain sense anticipation amongst the players and the coaching staff ahead of the match, not least because of the Zerofivers’ strong home record in recent seasons. Last year, for example, Svensson’s side picked up an impressive 35 points from their 17 home games.
Bo Svensson is well aware of the tough test that awaits his side on Sunday, when Europa-League participants Union Berlin are coming to town. “They are strong in all departments. This means we have to play to a high standard when we have the ball, when we are out of possession, when we are counter attacking and when we are dealing with set-pieces,” explained the Dane, who also believes that a clear plan will be the order of the day on Matchday 2: “We need to implement our plan really well. We will need a complete performance because Union are well-drilled and know what they need to do. They are a threat all over the pitch and we will need to find an answer,” said Svensson.
We will need a complete performance because Union are well-drilled and know what they need to do
A clear style that is difficult to play against
There aren’t many teams in the Bundesliga who look forward to taking on the Berliners, who have qualified for Europe for the second season in a row. Although it isn’t difficult to work out their style of play, FCU are becoming tougher and tougher each year. “There aren't many clubs who would say they like playing Union. They are very difficult to play against, but that also goes for every team in the league. There aren't many teams who like playing against us, however,” said Svensson, who expects his side to play with maximum intensity in the soaring summer heat on Sunday.
Silvan Widmer, who missed out against VfL Bochum due to illness, is available for selection against Union, whereas Jonny Burkardt, who missed out due to a pulled muscle, will have to remain on the sidelines. Returnee Danny da Costa will also have to miss out on Sunday but all other players are available.
A greater competition for places
Svensson is optimistic about his side’s chances on Sunday despite the omission of Burkardt and da Costa. He is not only confident because of FSV’s two wins on the road to start the season, but he also believes that the big picture is starting to come together. “We wanted more strength-in-depth and we have done just that. The competition for places is greater than it was last season and we have more options in terms of how we can play and in terms of who we can bring on in order to change a game,” said the gaffer. Svensson now also has a positive dilemma in terms of the system. Last week, for example, he utilised a 3-4-3 formation with Anton Stach, Angelo Fulgini and match-winner Karim Onisiwo forming the front three.
The competition for places means that the coach now has some difficult decisions to make. Marcus Ingvartsen watched the full 90 minutes against Bochum from the bench and Delano Burgzorg and Marlon Mustapha were brought on as substitutes. “We have lots of quality in the squad and we can bring on who we need depending on the situation in the game. We have become more flexible and that means that some players have to miss out, but we are always transparent with our decisions. We want to always be able to influence the game from the bench,” explained the Dane. Captain Silvan Widmer, who spoke to us on Thursday, believes that the fans also have the ability to influence the game from the stands: “I’m expecting the fans to really push us on. They can really give us an additional boost, particularly when we’re tired or suffering from the heat,” said the Swiss.
They can really give us an additional boost, particularly when we’re tired or suffering from the heat