Bundesliga Review: Low-key Freiburg Surge Into The Top Six
They may not be the most high profile club in the Bundesliga but having been down in the doldrums a year ago, Freiburg have made great progress
What a year it’s been for Freiburg coach Christian Streich. Twelve months ago, he was Marcus Sorg’s assistant as the club slipped to the foot of the Bundesliga by Christmas. So the Black Forest side did something they hadn’t done for 20 years – they sacked the coach. So into the breach stepped Christian Streich at the very end of December.
He knew the club well having coached the youth team for 16 years but less than a few weeks into the job he’d lost the team’s talisman, Papiss Demba Cissé, to Newcastle. And even though they won their opening game under the new coach, a five match winless run culminated in a 4-1 thrashing at the hands of local rivals Stuttgart, leaving Freiburg bottom of the Bundesliga, again.
To date, it’s the nadir of Christian Streich’s time in charge, because after the Stuttgart match, things rapidly improved for the Black Forest outfit. Freiburg went on a ten match unbeaten run, before finishing the season in 12th place. After a few summer tweaks, they’ve continued their impressive form from the last campaign. And this Sunday marked the high point in the Streich reign.
Exactly seven months to the day after Stuttgart had demoralised them, Freiburg had the chance for revenge against their provincial rivals. Stuttgart is the capital city in Baden-Württemberg and Christian Streich was keen to play up his side’s role as underdogs prior to the game. “VfB were German champions and we are the little neighbours who try to annoy the great capital city,” he said in an interview with Badische Zeitung.
On Sunday, Freiburg annoyed Stuttgart in some style. Streich wouldn’t have needed to do much motivating beforehand either, with Stuttgart’s sporting director Fredi Bobic saying that Freiburg was not a proper derby for the Swabians.
But the “little neighbours” swept aside their more illustrious opponents, who seemed to tire having been in Bucharest for Europa League action on Thursday. Acknowledging that the visitors would be tired after the midweek travels, Streich’s move to give his players two days off before the game worked a treat too.
Despite a frantic opening, the home side were ahead midway through the first half as Jan Rosenthal beat Sven Ulreich with a low effort from just outside the box. Chances followed for both teams either side of half time but Freiburg were the ones in control. Half way through the second half, it showed too as Pavel Krmas doubled the home side’s lead.
Stuttgart failed to deal with a free kick, allowing the Czech to round Ulreich and shoot past the defenders on the line. With the visitors fading, summer signing Max Kruse grabbed a third ensuring Freiburg moved into the top six on Sunday.
Since that Stuttgart game in February, Streich’s side are unbeaten in 19 of their last 24 Bundesliga games, showing the progress the team have made under his guidance. That’s the thing about Freiburg too – it really is about the team. That togetherness and organisation is a testament to the magnificent work of Christian Streich, as he approaches his first anniversary as Freiburg coach.
Elsewhere in the Bundesliga
- Let’s start with the side Freiburg play in midweek – Bayern Munich. They cruised past Hannover with Javier Martinez netting an overhead kick and Mario Gomez scoring just 26 seconds into his return from injury. Yes, they were playing a Hannover side that’d only had a day’s rest having played in the Europa League in Thursday but Bayern continue to turn on the style in the Bundesliga.
- Champions Borussia Dortmund are now the side directly behind them. That’s after Jürgen Klopp’s men came from behind to win at his former club, Mainz. One of the main talking points though was how much more restrained Klopp was on the touchline. He’s had a very public fall out with the head of German referees in the last week. However, BILD put Klopp’s more dignified appearance down to the presence of a policewoman, Bibiana Steinhaus – she was the 4th official on Saturday.
- Dortmund rose to second as Schalke and Eintracht Frankfurt drew on Saturday. There was some off field controversy too with the majority of Schalke fans booing and whistling against some of their own supporters who lit flares in one corner of the Veltins Arena. They weren’t the only fans to have flare troubles as Hamburg supporters accidentally set their own flag on fire before their game with Fortuna Düsseldorf, delaying the game by a few minutes. It got worse for HSV too as Fortuna went on to secure their first home win of the season.
- Elsewhere, Bayer Leverkusen closed on the top four. Despite a below-par performance against Hoffenheim, they held on for an away victory. Die Hoffe though are teetering above the automatic relegation places. The teams below them, Greuther Fürth and Augsburg, drew with Nuremberg and Gladbach respectively. Finally, Wolfsburg’s new sporting director Klaus Allofs was unable to see his side overcome his former charges as the Wolves played out a draw with Werder Bremen.
Matchday 13 Results:
Fortuna Düsseldorf 2-0 Hamburg
Bayern Munich 5-0 Hannover
Fürth 0-0 Nuremberg
Mainz 1-2 Borussia Dortmund
Schalke 1-1 Eintracht Frankfurt
Wolfsburg 1-1 Werder Bremen
Freiburg 3-0 Stuttgart
Augsburg 1-1 Gladbach
Hoffenheim 1-2 Bayer Leverkusen
|1||FC Bayern Munich||13||11||1||1||38:5||+33||34||CL*|
|3||FC Schalke 04||13||7||3||3||23:15||+8||24||CL*|
|4||Eintracht Frankfurt||13||7||3||3||26:19||+7||24||CL* Qual.|
|5||Bayer 04 Leverkusen||13||7||3||3||23:18||+5||24||EL* Qual.|
|6||SC Freiburg||13||5||4||4||19:14||+5||19||EL* Qual.|
|7||SV Werder Bremen||13||5||3||5||21:19||+2||18|
|9||1. FSV Mainz 05||13||5||2||6||16:16||0||17|
|15||1. FC Nuremberg||13||3||4||6||10:18||-8||13|
Table from official Bundesliga Website