Defender Marvin Friedrich insists high-flying Union Berlin aren't dreaming about Europe yet - and he's not thinking about a Germany call-up. - © Lukas Schulze/Bundesliga/Bundesliga Collection via Getty Images
Defender Marvin Friedrich insists high-flying Union Berlin aren't dreaming about Europe yet - and he's not thinking about a Germany call-up. - © Lukas Schulze/Bundesliga/Bundesliga Collection via Getty Images
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Marvin Friedrich plays down Union Berlin's European ambitions

Union Berlin defender Marvin Friedrich insists that his side aren’t dreaming of qualifying for Europe - and that he’s not thinking about being called up for Germany.

Union have once again upset the odds this season, sitting pretty in fifth after 14 games of the 2020/21 Bundesliga.

Urs Fischer's side had an 11th-placed finish last term in what was their first ever year in the German top flight.

Watch: Friedrich scored in the win over Dortmund

But despite helping his team to string a series of impressive results together - including a win over Borussia Dortmund and a draw with champions Bayern Munich - Friedrich says Union are not counting on a top-six finish this season.

"Our goal for the season remains avoiding relegation," Friedrich told kicker. "We know we have to reach our absolute limit in every Bundesliga game. Otherwise it will be difficult."

Qualifying for Europe by staying where they are right now in the standings would be quite the achievement for the courageous club from east Berlin.

It was only in May 2018, after all, that Union were promoted to the top flight for their first time in their history - thanks to a headed goal from Friedrich in a play-off against VfB Stuttgart.

The 25-year-old centre-back looks right at home playing for the team known as “Iron Union”, excelling along with summer signing Robin Knoche in either a three or a four-man backline this season.

Although they have a reputation as a robust and hard-fighting side, Union have been one of the great entertainers of this season's Bundesliga. With 29 so far, they are second only to league leaders Bayern Munich (44) for goals scored.

Marvin Friedrich powered home a precious away goal for Union Berlin that helped them win their two-legged promotion/relegation play-off against VfB Stuttgart in May 2018. - imago images / Michael Weber

Attackers Max Kruse and Taiwo Awoniyi have netted six and five times respectively, but next on Union's list of top goalcorers is Friedrich with four.

Christopher Trimmel's deadly set-piece deliveries make Union a terrifying side for teams to face, with Friedrich’s latest goal - a header against Dortmund - already doubling his tally from last season.

When it was put to him that that kind of form could put him in the thoughts of Germany boss Joachim Löw, Friedrich said he would not let any speculation about a maiden senior call-up distract him.

"I can't do anything about that," the former Augsburg and Schalke player said. "It doesn't matter to me. "I can only try to back up my performances every week. The rest is up for others to decide. I want to keep developing steadily and to help the team."

As for Union's European chances, we should have a clearer picture in the coming weeks. Fischer’s team have only lost two league matches so far, but in their next three matches they take on fellow high flyers Wolfsburg, Bayer Leverkusen and RB Leipzig.

The Union boss, though, is confident that they can get better in the second half of the season.

"We haven't reached our limit yet," Fischer said ahead of the Matchday 14 win at Werder Bremen. "We can and must make progress… we still have room for improvement."