Urs Fischer isn’t usually interested in historical parallels or cross-comparisons, but the CAF boss should smile before the start of Saturday’s Bundesliga season (3:30pm, Sky) against Bayer Leverkusen. In the two first division years, the Berlin team initially received home defeats: in 2019 the score was 0: 4 against Rassenpolsport Leipzig, before 1:3 against FC Augsburg. “If we lose again and in the end keep the league, it won’t be so wrong,” says the 55-year-old Swiss, laughing. Looking back, these disappointments can be considered important steps in the development, but of course now, on the third try, you should finally work with earning a point on the first day of the game.
Fisher appears relaxed and optimistic, but does not deviate an inch from his realism. Of course, his team must go into the game with self-confidence and courage, but they must not lose the ground under their feet. “We are not yet at the point of declaring the role of favourite when we play against Leverkusen,” Fischer says.
However, there are some points that speak of the union. In the German Bundesliga, Berlin players have not lost at home since September 19, 2020, the opening defeat of last season to Augsburg. In the final table, Al-Ittihad fell only two points behind Leverkusen and in the two league matches there was a victory and a draw from the point of view of Berlin.
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But who cares now? A lot has changed in terms of personnel in both teams, Leverkusen even has a new coach in compatriot Gerardo Sewan and everyone will start from scratch on Saturday. “The team has changed a little, they have one player or another sick, but Leverkusen is a strong team,” Fischer said.
As in the 1-0 cup against Türkgücü, the Berlin team have to dispense with Sheraldo Becker, Grischa Prömel, Leon Dajaku and Fabio Schneider. It is uncertain whether Sebastian Griesbeck will have enough room for the team again.
Compared to the previous season and some competitors, the state of the staff in the union looks very good. This is one of the reasons Fischer has shown himself to be so satisfied over the past few weeks, in which he claims he has seen “good things” as well as five unbeaten Test matches.
11,006 spectators at An der Alten Försterei . Stadium
However, the trainer is experienced enough to understand the risks of such a smooth setup. “Maybe I would have been happy if we had really lost once,” says Fisher, laughing again. Sometimes defeat in time helps sharpen your senses. But the risk of team quitting should be fairly low. This is ensured, not least by the coach, who for weeks warned of a difficult season. “With twelve new players, it takes a while before the mechanics take effect and the boys have internalized the principles of our game,” Fisher says.
Time is the key word this season anyway, because with the triple burden of the Bundesliga, Cup and Conference League, the work of the squad and coaching staff will inevitably change. Rotation becomes more important, and travel continues. It will start on Thursday (expected to kick off at 6pm) when the Federation competes at Kuopion PS in Helsinki.
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But the focus remains on the first home game. 11,006 spectators can attend the An der Alten Försterei stadium on Saturday, although Berlin’s infection rate now exceeds the 35 threshold. Since the last decision of the Prime Minister’s Conference on Tuesday, this no longer applies to major events; Instead, “diverging individual decisions” are being made, the Senate administration declared to Tagesspiegel.
Union’s 3G rule applies on Saturday, so visitors must be vaccinated, recovered or tested. “The procedure poses challenges for every organizer. But we are looking forward to having people there,” says press spokesperson Christian Arbit. Fisher is also looking forward to a half-full stadium. “The fans will help us and one of the players will be happy when he can’t hear the coach.”