Like Union Berlin, Freiburg’s start to the season has seen a continuation of the form shown at the tail end of last season and after seven matches the Breisgauer find themselves in the lofty position of third in the table ahead of the likes of Bayern Munich, RB Leipzig and Bayer Leverkusen- all supposed title aspirants.
Their down-to-earth coach Christian Streich still however insists that Freiburg’s main aim is to achieve Bundesliga survival this season but survive they surely will and more on top. They already have 14 points to go towards their ‘survival target’ and three more are up for grabs when they host Mainz this weekend. It is mathematically possible that the Black Forest club could actually top the table at the end of this weekend- maybe then Streich might crack a smile and raise his ambitions a tad.
The added burden of European action has so far not been too much of a problem, but the travel and energy needed means that full use is going to have to be made of the squad and injuries to key players need to be avoided. Those key players thus far have been Matthias Ginter in defence, Vincenzo Grifo in midfield and Michael Gregoritsch in attack, but the team is very much the start under Christian Streich.
He will continue to take the pressure off his players, which will allow them to carry on performing to a high level and over-achieve.
Visitors Mainz will also be more than happy with their start to the season, sitting as they do in 8th place with eleven points (one fewer than Bayern Munich). All three of their wins this season (Bochum, Augsburg and Mönchengladbach) have come away from home so the trip to Freiburg this weekend has good omens.
A friendly arranged in the international break saw them lose 5-2 to 2, Bundesliga side Karlsruher SC, but how much can be read into that is debatable. A more positive omen is the fact that Mainz are currently on a four-game unbeaten run in the Bundesliga against Freiburg, drawing two and winning two of these meetings. Overall, the Nullfünfer have beaten Freiburg more often than any other team in their Bundesliga history.
Hugo Siquet is nursing a knee ligament strain, making him unavailable to take on Mainz at the weekend, but Lucas Höler could be named in the squad for the first time this campaign after a successful operation on a metatarsal fracture.
Roland Sallai remains unavailable following his eye injury suffered against Leverkusen. Lukas Kübler could provide an alternative to Kiliann Sildillia at fullback.
Possible line-up: Flekken, Sildillia, Ginter, Lienhart, Günter, Eggestein, Höfler, Doan, Kyereh, Grifo, Gregoritsch
Jonathan Burkardt has recovered and is fit for the Freiburg game after suffering a foot injury against Hoffenheim. Marlon Mustapha and Marcus Ingvartsen are not available.
Mustapha is still on crutches after suffering a knock to his upper thigh against Hertha, whereas Ingvartsen should be available next week. Alexander Hack is serving the final game of the suspension for the red card he got against Hoffenheim.
Possible line-up: Zentner, Tauer, Bell, Leitsch, Widmer, Barreiro, Kohr, Aaron, Stach, Burgzorg, Onisiwo,
What they’re saying:
Christian Streich: “They have shown a lot of variation in their play, but normally you expect a back three from them. They have got energy, power, and will make us do a lot of running. We don’t fear any opponent. We are pleased that we have opponents – otherwise we wouldn’t be able to play.
“It’s not usual to go two weeks without having played a match. So that was pleasant, but now it is nice that we have a home game coming up on Saturday. I believe the fans are happy because the boys have done very well.”
Bo Svensson: “They have a clear notion of how they want to play and have enjoyed many successful seasons. They have several players who have been playing for Christian Streich for many years. This continuity leads to consistency. They rarely have a bad day and when they do, they are still able to play at a level that makes it tough for any opponent.
“If we manage to play our game, then we’ve proven that we can make life hard for them. The players have shown a reaction [to a 5-2 friendly loss to Karlsruhe]. Of course, we were disappointed at first after the friendly against KSC, but it’s also about seeing how you react to a defeat like that, and the team did well at that. We have been able to draw several lessons from it and were able to take constructive feedback from it.”
18.09.22 Hoffenheim (a) 0-0 D (Bundesliga)
15.09.22 Olympiacos (a) 0-3 W (Europa League)
11.09.22 Borussia Mönchengladbach (h) 0-0 D (Bundesliga)
08.09.22 Qarabag (h) 2-1 W (Europa League)
03.09.22 Bayer Leverkusen (a) 2-3 W (Bundesliga)
16.09.22 Hertha Berlin (h) 1-1 D (Bundesliga)
10.09.22 Hoffenheim (a) 4-1 L (Bundesliga)
04.09.22 Borussia Mönchengladbach (a) 0-1 W (Bundesliga)
27.08.22 Bayer Leverkusen (h) 0-3 L (Bundesliga)
20.08.22 Augsburg (a) 1-2 W (Bundesliga)
The corresponding fixture took place on matchday 22 last season and ended all square. Akexander Hack bundled the ball home on the half hour mark, but Freiburg equalised with twenty minutes remaining via supersub Nils Petersen’s first touch.
The point ended a run of five successive losses on the road for Mainz
Players to watch:
Ritsu Doan has settled into life in Freiburg very quickly and is reprising the form he showed last season with relegated Arminia Bielefeld. His invention and attacking flair have been a standout feature of the Breisgauer’s play this season.
Karim Onisiwo started in Austria’s defeat to France and was a second half substitute in their loss to Croatia in the international break. He comes up against his compatriot Michael Gregoritsch looking to get back on the Bundesliga goal trail after scoring twice on the opening weekend and again on matchday 3.
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