Bayern Munich will take on Union Berlin in the Bundesliga tiebreaker

Union Berlin has always had a rebellious streak. In communist East Germany, they never really had much chance of success when rivals BFC Dynamo had the support of the Stasi.

On the crumbling terraces of their An der Alten Forsterei Stadium, the regime’s dissidents felt safe in greater numbers to shout things they would never have dared to do in the streets.

“Down with the wall!” was supposedly such a song when Union won a free kick and opponents lined up to defend it. Part of Berlin’s frontline during the Cold War was located in football stadiums.

Now Union takes a different form of activity. Bayern Munich have won the German Bundesliga in each of the last 10 seasons, often in little more than a dizzyingly dull procession.

But not this time. There are 21 games in the campaign and interestingly, the three teams have a combined 43 points at the top of the table starting this weekend.

Union Berlin is giving the Bundesliga establishment a serious run for their money this season

Union Berlin is giving the Bundesliga establishment a serious run for their money this season

It was an extraordinary season for Union, who also beat Ajax in the Europa League this week

It was an extraordinary season for Union, who also beat Ajax in the Europa League this week

Pictured: What the top of the Bundesliga table look like coming into the weekend with a top three tied at 43 points and only goal difference divided over 13 rounds of the season to be played

Pictured: What the top of the Bundesliga table looks like going into the weekend with the top three tied at 43 points and only goal difference divided over 13 rounds of the season to be played

No wonder Bayern is one of the trio. Few will raise an eyebrow when they see that Borussia Dortmund is next. But there’s also Union Berlin – well, they shouldn’t be there.

This Sunday, Union’s newcomers head from the capital to the Allianz Arena to take on Bayern in a game that will decide the outcome of the title race.

For the first time in a long time, Bayern look shaken and their rivals are ready to attack. They have won just two of their six league matches since the resumption of the German top flight after the World Cup and the winter break.

Cracks are beginning to appear on their normally pristine facade. There was a brawl involving Manuel Neuer, who broke his leg skiing after Germany’s World Cup exit and then was furious at the sacking of Bayern’s goalkeeping coach and close friend Toni Tapalovic.

The club claimed that Tapalovic was leaking information from the coaching staff, which club captain Neuer denied before further escalating the matter, claiming he felt as if “his heart was being ripped out”.

The Bayern hierarchy did not enjoy much sympathy and an unpleasant war of words ensued.

Then there’s coach Julian Nagelsmann, who was furious with referee Tobias Welz after defender Dayot Upamecano was sent off just eight minutes after last weekend’s 3-2 loss to Monchengladbach.

Nagelsmann complained about Welz for his performance and decided to enter the referee’s room after the match in front of journalists.

Things have not been smooth sailing at Bayern Munich, which is usually clear by now

Things have not been smooth sailing at Bayern Munich, which is usually clear by now

Bayern goalkeeper and captain Manuel Neuer has criticized the club's decision to sack goalkeeping coach and friend Toni Tapalovic (left)

Bayern goalkeeper and captain Manuel Neuer has criticized the club’s decision to sack goalkeeping coach and friend Toni Tapalovic (left)

Julian Nagelsmann was furious with referee Tobias Welz as Bayern lost 3-2 to Monchengladbach

Julian Nagelsmann was furious with referee Tobias Welz as Bayern lost 3-2 to Monchengladbach

Dayot Upamecano was sent off by Welz just eight minutes after Bayern lost last weekend

Dayot Upamecano was sent off by Welz just eight minutes after Bayern lost last weekend

He later apologized on Twitter, saying: “Emotions are part of sport. And given the red card, I had to vent after the game.

“However, I must apologize for the team’s choice of words around Tobias Welz. Unfortunately, I went too far there.

Every Bayern coach is under constant pressure, but if Nagelsmann thought the Champions League victory over Paris Saint-Germain had eased tensions, he was wrong.

The reigning champions have won only 12 of their 21 league matches so far, the lowest number since the 2010-11 season when Jürgen Klopp’s Dortmund won the title and Bayern finished third.

So there is a chance that someone else will take advantage and break Bayern’s long championship streak.

When Union led the Bundesliga in the opening weeks of the season – leading the top flight in the DDR-Oberliga for the first time since 1970 – everyone assumed they would soon be relegated again.

Union Berlin fans are slowly getting used to nosebleeds this season

Union Berlin fans are slowly getting used to nosebleeds this season

The rebellious German football club is now living the dream as they push themselves to the top of the table

The rebellious German football club is now living the dream as they push themselves to the top of the table

But although coach Urs Fischer insisted that the No. 1 team’s goal was to avoid relegation, they still proved extremely difficult to beat.

As only one of their players traveled to Qatar for the World Cup, they stayed relatively fresh compared to their rivals and won five league games in a row when play resumed.

Indeed, it was seen as a big disappointment when they dropped two points in a goalless home draw against struggling Schalke last weekend.

However, a brilliant 3-1 win over Ajax Amsterdam on Thursday night and a Europa League round of 16 encounter with Belgium’s Union Saint-Gilloise simply continued the fairytale character of their campaign.

For the record, they are still playing in the German Cup, traveling to Eintracht Frankfurt in the quarter-finals in April.

If Leicester City taught us anything in 2016, it’s that miracles can happen in football and the whispers are getting louder.

Leicester is famous for winning the Premier League title in 2015-16 at odds of around 5000-1

Leicester is famous for winning the Premier League title in 2015-16 at odds of around 5000-1

Dortmund cannot be knocked out of the Bundesliga title race when they face Bayern and Union

Dortmund cannot be knocked out of the Bundesliga title race when they face Bayern and Union

Union have remarkable rebuilding power, saving 12 points from losing ground this season – more than any other team in Europe’s top five leagues.

Their game plan is based on a solid defensive foundation, and their 24 goals conceded so far in the league is second only to Bayern’s 21.

If they manage to add to Bayern’s problems and come out of Sunday’s match with a point or a win, it will only increase the suspicion that they are not eliminated in extra-time.

Dortmund, who travel to Hoffenheim on Saturday afternoon, are also well placed to pounce on any Bayern slip-up.

They have won all six games since the winter break to close the nine-point gap. Julian Brandt has been in great form, having been involved in five goals in those six matches, while Karim Adeyemi has scored in the last four.

Unfortunately, the striker suffered a hamstring injury and will be out for some time.

For a change, it looks like the Bundesliga will provide an immersive and unpredictable race for the title. While quite a few people in Germany want someone other than Bayern to win it, you suspect the breakout club Union would be a real champion of the people.

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