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Sheraldo Becker celebrates his goal against Bayern
Sheraldo Becker celebrates his goal against BayernImage: Michael Taeger/IMAGO

Becker strikes again as Union repel Bayern

Mathias Brück Alte Försterei, Berlin
September 3, 2022

Union Berlin produced another impressive performance, this time keeping champions Bayern Munich at bay in a compelling game. Union goalscorer Sheraldo Becker looks set to play a key role this season.


Union Berlin 1-1 Bayern Munich
(Becker 12'— Kimmich 15')
Alte Försterei

It was the 62nd minute when a very unimpressed-looking Sheraldo Becker left the field to make way for substitute Jamie Leweling. Seconds later, the Union striker sat on the bench and threw the nearest water bottles to the ground in frustration. Fifty minutes earlier, the 23-year-old had scored the opener 1-0 against Bayern Munich; normally reason to celebrate. So what happened?

"Sheraldo was a bit unhappy that I took him off the pitch that early," Union coach Urs Fischer said after the game. "I don't have a problem with that behavior. I used to play football as well and it is a very emotional sport." Becker was not happy with the 1-1 scoreline at that time — a testiment to the club and the direction they are heading.

After Union's 6-1 win against Schalke last week, German football magazine "11 Freunde" labeled them a "top team." And Saturday they showed once again why the term "underdog" doesn't really apply to them anymore.

Not just football romance

The club might be famous for football romance, but everything Union do is the result of tireless preparation and training. The collaboration between coach Urs Fischer and Oliver Ruhnert, the managing director, is one of their greatest strengths. Time after time Union develop players into Bundesliga stars — just to see them join other clubs in the next transfer period.

Union Berlin coach Urs Fischer with a microphone before an interview
Union Berlin coach Urs FischerImage: Uwe Anspach/dpa/picture alliance

They are still the only Bundesliga team not to fall behind in a game this season. And it became apparent why Bayern had to settle for a  second draw in a row. The red and whites afforded Bayern very little space to work with inside their own half. On numerous occasions, Manuel Neuer would be the only player in Bayern's half, but Union's defense stood strong and didn't allow too many good chances for the record champions.

Losing their first-choice strike pair in the last year — Max Kruse unexpectedly returning to Wolfsburg in the winter, and top scorer Taiwo Awoniyi joining Nottingham Forest in the summer — could have been a big blow for the club. Instead, Union dealt with it in the way they always do, and after five rounds of Bundesliga football, they look to be in a better position than ever before.

Losing players a common theme

Awoniyi and Kruse seem to have been smoothly replaced by the new attacking partnership of Jordan Siebatcheu and Sheraldo Becker. The arrival of Siebatcheu, who missed today's game with muscular problems, gave Becker the opportunity to play leave his wider role and impact the game in central attack.  The slight tactical move from Fischer appears to be a masterstroke, as Becker is the league's top scorer with five goals and two assists.

"He is just in the flow”, said Union's coach about Becker after the game. "His confidence has drastically improved. He is always in the right spot for a striker and he also helps the team defensively.”

The 27-year-old certainly seems to embrace his new role as the number one striker. Currently in his fourth season at "Die Eisernen," Becker is enjoying his finest start to a season to date. His disappointment in the substitution was long forgotten after the final whistle.

Sheraldo Becker wins the ball against Kingsley Coman
Sheraldo Becker wins the ball against Kingsley ComanImage: Sebastian Räppold/Matthias Koch/IMAGO

"The coach makes the decisions," said Becker, reflecting on the incident. "But after the game, I shook hands with him and my teammates and we are all very happy about the game and the result today."

Not an easy journey

It wasn't always easy for the Dutch-born, Suriname international. After leaving the world-famous Ajax youth system, Becker had several loan moves before earning a transfer to Ado Den Haag in 2016. In his final season with the club, he scored seven goals and picked up 10 assists in 33 Eredivisie appearances. The then newly promoted Union Berlin made a play for the pacy right winger in 2019 and he has since played 64 games for the club.

Greeting their team with a great choreography, the home fans erupted when Becker put their team in front after 12 minutes. His trademark spiderman goal celebration followed shortly after, one that has a deeper meaning to the striker.

"The celebration is for my kids," Becker told the Berliner Kurier. "They simply love it when I score and celebrate like that."

Bayern needed a set piece to score their only goal of the game, when Kimmich's corner kick bounced back to him and he beat Union keeper Frederik Rönnow from just outside the box with a fine low drive. And the record champions almost stole it at the death when Rönnow was diving full stretch to punch away a flying header from Sadio Mané.

Union are now unbeaten in 12 Bundesliga matches, and it seems like they have gained a new fan. Thomas Müller, who started off the bench for the first time since February 2021 told Sky after the game: "I am a bit of an Union Berlin fan. I like how they play football as a team, they delivered exactly what we had expected."

Die Eisernen might have never beaten Bayern in seven attempts, drawing three and losing four. But that didn't prevent their fans from shouting "only Union will be German Champions" after the game. While that seems to be a very ambitious target, Becker could certainly be a key piece for another push for the international spots this season.

Edited by Michael Da Silva

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