The Champions League

“Bellingham is one of the best in the world but Modric is better” – Nenad Bjelica speaks ahead of Real Madrid’s trip to Union Berlin

Ahead of Union Berlin’s final group game in the Champions League, Croatian Head Coach, Nenad Bjelica and goalkeeper, Frederik Rönnow spoke to the media about their side’s chances and recent form in the pre-match press conference.

Union Berlin has struggled in their first Champions League campaign. 

Without a win and managing just two draws against Napoli and Braga away, Union Berlin are staring at an early exit from Europe unless an unlikely turn of events occurs.

If Napoli defeat Braga and Union Berlin can beat Real Madrid then die Eisernen will have another shot of glory in the Europa League.

Last season, Union navigated their way to the last 16 with famous wins over Malmo, Braga and Ajax before succumbing to Union Saint-Gilloise on aggregate. 

Tomorrow, Union Berlin have another opportunity to create memories in the Olympiastadion.

In the press conference, Bjelica said that they have been doing everything they can to prepare for a top performance tomorrow. Rönnow reiterated the change in energy many of his peers referred to on Saturday, the positive mindset, and how good it was to finally win against Gladbach.

Update on Sheraldo Becker and Leadership

Bjelica is asked about striker, Sheraldo Becker who has missed the last three guides through injury.

“He has trained over the last couple of days. he could be in the squad,” but the tight-lipped Head Coach won’t give much more away. He says that we all know Real madrid, but he’d rather talk of his own side’s win and how much the victory on Saturday boosted their confidence and squad morale.

A question follows about the role of Christopher Trimmel who is yet to play under Bjelica.

“Of course he will get his time to play, but (Josip) Juranovic has been doing very well on that side. Trimmel is a good leader, he’ll still be needed when the time is right.”

How good is Jude Bellingham?

A Spanish journalist asks about Jude bellingham. The 20-year-old Englishman has already scored more goals (16) this season than at any time in his professional career. Bjelica laughs:

“He is one of the best players in the world, but still think Luca Modric is better. They are both, it’s fair to say, decent.

“Everyone knows Real’s qualities but it doesn’t matter which players they send out, you need to be able to prepare for them. I hope tomorrow is not the last time I coach against them.”

Bjelica is then asked about his own experience of playing against Real. The Croatian midfielder played in La Liga during the 90s and reminisces about his time in Spain glowingly, how “fantastic” it was to play against Real and the other Giants of football. 

Changes in defence

Rönnow is asked about the change in playing style since the departure of Urs Fischer after five years at the helm.

“The change to four at the back hasn’t changed much, personally,” but he highlights the energy that the win at the weekend brought the team and a renewed belief.

“It has given us self-confidence from Saturday, and we hope to bring it, to show it tomorrow. I believe that we’ll bring a good performance”

On Carlo Ancelotti

Bjelica has had the chance to visit Carlo Ancelotti before, through had a mutual friend, and he had the opportunity to watch his training for a day.

“It’s the sort of thing that would stay with you. A mastermind. But he’s not the only one. Naturally he is a top trainer, and there’s nothing new that can be said about him that hasn’t been said before.”

It is not hyberbole to say that tomorrow will be the biggest evening of Union Berlin’s history and Bjelica’s career.

Fewer than 20 years ago, Union were playing in the Regionalliga Nord and Bjelica was just starting his managerial career.

Tomorrow, Bjelica leads the club from Köpenick out to play 35-time La Liga champions and 14-time Champions League winners, Real Madrid.

Whatever the result, it will be a night to remember.

GGFN | Oscar O’Mara



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