Real Madrid vs Union BerlinUEFA Champions League, KO: 17:45 Sep 20, 2023, Bernabeu
UNION BERLIN couldn't have asked for a tougher introduction to the Champions League as they play their first game in the tournament away to 14-time European champions Real Madrid.
Just four years ago, Union were playing in the second tier of German football but they now have a seat at Europe's top table after finishing fourth in the Bundesliga last term.
Urs Fischer has led them on this fairytale rise and the manager will be hoping the experience of last season's Europa League campaign will stand his side in good stead for the massive challenge ahead.
Union Berlin finished second in their group then beat Ajax 3-1 on aggregate before bowing out in the last 16 to Belgian side Union Saint-Gilloise. But the Champions League will be a big step up in class and Fischer's side head into the game off the back of successive Bundesliga losses to RB Leipzig and Wolfsburg.
While Union's start to the new campaign has been patchy, Real Madrid haven't put a foot wrong in Spain with a perfect record so far in La Liga. It looked like they might stumble on Sunday night when Real Sociedad claimed a 1-0 half-time lead at the Bernabeu but Carlo Ancelotti's men fought back to claim a 2-1 victory and bring up two bets for our man Gabriel.
With big-money signing Jude Bellingham hitting the ground running, Real Madrid look in determined mood as they bid to grab the Spanish title back from Barcelona. But Ancelotti's side also have the talent to mount another long run in Europe after their Champions League title defence was ended by Manchester City in last season's semi-final.
How the bookies view it
It's no surprise to see Real Madrid as heavy favourites and their best price is just 4/11 at Bet365. Union Berlin are 19/2 at BetUK for a shock win while the draw pays 4/1 with most firms.
Head to head
These teams have never faced off before but Real Madrid have played German opposition 72 times, winning 35 and losing 24 of those matches. They faced RB Leipzig in the group stage last season and won 2-0 at the Bernabeu before losing 3-2 in Germany.
Players to watch
Joselu has been handed the daunting task of filling Karim Benzema's boots up front for Real Madrid but has made a decent start to his Bernabeu career. The 33-year-old has scored in his last two games for Ancelotti's side and is 8/5 at Bet365 for anytime scorer here.
Kevin Behrens has been Union Berlin's biggest goal threat so far this season, netting four goals in five outings. He's 9/2 with SkyBet to add to that tally with a famous strike at the Bernabeu. He's also 13/10 at Unibet just to have a shot on target.
Anything else catch the eye?
Union Berlin haven't kept a clean sheet yet in the Bundesliga this season and head to the Bernabeu after shipping five goals in their last two outings. That suggests Real Madrid could get a bit of joy here and over 2.5 home goals looks good at 6/4 with Paddy Power.
Aurelien Tchouameni scored a screamer for France against Ireland during the international break and is a big threat with his shooting for distance. The Real Madrid midfielder is 7/5 at Unibet just to have a shot on target in this game and that looks decent value.
I'd expect Real Madrid to rack up a few corners as they pile on the pressure and backing them at -3 in that handicap pays 10/11 at Unibet.
This UEFA Champions League match between Real Madrid and Union Berlin will be played on Sep 20, 2023 and kick off at 17:45. Check below for our tipsters best Real Madrid vs Union Berlin prediction. You may also visit our dedicated betting previews section for the most up to date previews.