• After being excluded from Juve’s first team and missing a solid pre-season, Bonucci is eager to make his mark.
• Gosens encouraged the team to relish “the unique experience of playing in one of football’s greatest arenas against one of the world’s best.”
Union Berlin’s participation in the 2023/24 Uefa Champions League campaign, a first in the club’s history, still feels like a surreal fairytale to many.
Facing world football giants like Spanish powerhouse Real Madrid at the iconic Estadio Bernabeu only heightens the excitement.
However, for Urs Fischer, things seem different. The Union coach is more focused on his lineup than fairytales and unrealistic goals. Central to his considerations is the renowned former Juve defender, Leonardo Bonucci.
The 36-year-old defender has been working on his fitness since joining the Berlin club this summer from Italy.
After being excluded from Juve’s first team and missing a solid pre-season, Bonucci is eager to make his mark. A shaky defence in Union’s recent league match against Wolfsburg might boost the chances of the former Italian international making his season debut in a Union jersey.
Former Milan defender Robin Gosens urged patience, noting that returning to peak form takes time. The German international added: “You can see his experience and determination to get to the best possible level. He soon will be of great value to us.”
Fischer is pleased with Bonucci’s progress, noting: “I am happy to see he can’t wait to be on the pitch.” The challenge, from the coach’s perspective, is “to find the right time to make all happy.” Fischer believes that Bonucci, with his 121 international caps, could provide a motivational boost, even if he plays just the final 30 minutes.
Gosens encouraged the team to relish “the unique experience of playing in one of football’s greatest arenas against one of the world’s best.”
The 29-year-old added that it is always possible for “a smaller club to hurt one of the big ones in one game.”
Former German national team captain Michael Ballack commented: “the club having deserved to play Champions League and do the next development step as the Champions League will make them collect experience and grow.”
For Fischer, the key is “to find solutions in the game and not only kick the ball out of our box.” Otherwise, he warns, “you get into trouble against a team of Real’s quality.”
Facing teams like Real, Napoli, and Braga is uncharted territory for Union, demanding courage and resilience. Fischer sees it as an added challenge to act with courage.
Bonucci might be the one to provide that courage when Union feels “in an emotional rollercoaster”, as Gosens put it. The full-back next to Bonucci is the only Union player with Champions League experience.
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