Union Berlin have quickly got to tune with life in the Bundesliga, and one of their unsung heroes in the top flight is Christopher Trimmel. The captain has led from the front with a Europe-leading seven assists from set-pieces, which is even more than Liverpool and England international Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Also a right-back, 33-year-old Trimmel has been with Union since 2014 when he arrived on a free from Rapid Vienna, becoming a key figure in the team and being handed the armband by coach Urs Fischer last season as the Berliners secured their place in the Bundesliga for the first time by beating VfB Stuttgart in the play-off.
With a healthy return of 30 points from 26 games, Die Eisernen can be quietly confident they’ll be no one-hit top-flight wonders. Part of that success is built on their threat from set pieces, with the club scoring 14 of their 32 goals from dead balls. That amounts to 44 per cent, which is the highest rate of any team in the league.
Watch: The Bundesliga's corner kings
At the heart of that is Trimmel, who has accounted for half of the assists for those 14 goals. Not only is the Austrian the club's leading provider, from set-pieces alone he tops the standings for assists across Europe's top five leagues. That's because all seven have come in that manner. Even Alexander-Arnold, famed for his set-piece delivery, trails that total with six, having played five games more than the Union man.
Trimmel's party piece has been his corners, which have produced five of those seven assists. Two even came in a single game against Mainz on Matchday 11, both times for Sebastian Andersson as the Berliners recorded their first-ever away win in the Bundesliga.
Another two have again fallen to the head of Andersson, against Cologne on Matchday 14 and Freiburg on Matchday 25, while his very first Bundesliga assist was to Marius Bülter as Die Eisernen registered their maiden top-flight three points, against Borussia Dortmund at the Stadion an der Alten Försterei.
But it isn't just corners where the seven-time Austria international has proven he's a threat. He bagged his second brace of assists on Matchday 24 against Wolfsburg with a free-kick apiece for Andersson and Marvin Friedrich in a 2-2 draw.
Watch: Trimmel provided a brace of assists from corners in Union’s maiden away win
Like Union themselves, Trimmel has had to bide his time for top-flight fame. As well as Alexander-Arnold in the English Premier League, he's now also outstripping the illustrious names of Lionel Messi and Angel di Maria, who are the leading set-pieces providers in Spain's La Liga and France's Ligue 1 respectively with four apiece.
The man himself, though, remains modest: "It's tough enough to stay at the top in this statistic. Now I've got to get even more creative with my set pieces. At the end of the day, however, all that matters for us is remaining in the league."
Die Eisernen will have been disappointed to have lost their first game following the Bundesliga's resumption 2-0 against champions Bayern Munich after a strong performance, but they can quickly put that behind them on Friday night when Trimmel leads them out at the Olympiastadion in the Berlin derby against Hertha. A game that's about far more than Bundesliga survival.
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