Following SCF’s 6-0 defeat away at VfL Wolfsburg last time out, head coach Christian Streich urged his players not to “run into situations like headless chickens” in his press conference ahead of the game against the Eagles – his players listened well.
Streich oversaw a controlling opening stage from his team, with repeated long balls looking to get in behind the Eintracht back line. One of their targets was Lucas Höler, who returned to the starting XI alongside Philipp Lienhart and Killiann Sildillia. Daniel-Kofi Kyereh, Manuel Gulde and Wooyeong Jeong were all on the bench for the start.
Freiburg start on the front foot
It was Höler himself who provided many an early test for stand-in SGE goalkeeper Diant Ramaj – the away side’s number 1, Kevin Trapp, missed out with a cold. Höler, on the left side of the attack in SCF’s 3-4-3 formation, looked to find Michael Gregoritsch in a good position early on, before wildly missing a free-kick rebound from 15 yards (2’, 12’).
The opening quarter of an hour belonged to the home side, but Frankfurt goalkeeper Ramaj was largely untroubled. “We decided to change some things around,” explained Streich after the final whistle. “What was decisive was the way our front three went about the game. Because they did their job so well, Frankfurt had to keep playing long balls, and our defence was ready for that.”
The way in which the Freiburg team flew into duels and tackles, winning the majority, was in stark contrast to their performance in Wolfsburg at the weekend. The current Europa League champions were confined to their back-line, which was clearly frustrating them: the crowning moment of their irritation came on the 22nd minute, as Daichi Kamada hammered the ball into the advertising boards following a decision by referee Deniz Aytekin. The result: a yellow card for the Japanese international.
Kolo Muani scores out of the blue
With half an hour gone, the home side had four shots on target to Frankfurt’s zero. The best chance for SCF so far came just after the half-hour mark, as Höler arrived at a loose ball just after Ramaj – Christian Günter’s rebound was also denied by the goalkeeper. Mark Flekken’s gloves at the other end were called into action with five minutes of the half to go – Randal Kolo Muani’s effort was no trouble for the SC ‘keeper, though.
Just two minutes later and the Bundesliga’s top scorer managed to find a way through. A ball across by Mario Götze found Kolo Muani, and the French World Cup runner-up surprised the home crowd by firing a shot low past Flekken from 18 yards. “It’s a bit of a shame that we got into dangerous areas and didn’t find the net,” Streich lamented. “Then you concede the goal – I told the players that that might happen, before the game – they put it behind them well.”
Freiburg also had good control of the game after the interval, but if anyone had come into the game expecting a cagey affair, they would be sorely mistaken. With exactly 47 minutes on the clock, a recycled corner was delivered onto the head of Matthias Ginter by Christian Günter – the former made no mistake from close range to power a header home: 1-1!
Höfler earns a suspension
With the game already very intense, things reached boiling point midway through the half as ‘Chicco’ Höfler received a yellow card for a foul on Kolo Muani (57’). It was his fifth of the season, meaning he is now suspended for SCF’s next game against FC Augsburg. Five minutes later, Gregoritsch was set up by Höler and had the goal within sight, but was unable to find the net. The Austrian then had a shot saved by Ramaj from the edge of the area (69’).
Vincenzo Grifo, who missed the trip to Wolfsburg with a cold, was able to make a cameo appearance for the last 11 minutes under the Wednesday evening floodlights. Apart from a well-delivered corner with three minutes of normal time to go, the Italian was unable to make any inroads towards a winner.
The final whistle blew with Eintracht flattered to earn a point – at the halfway point of the 2022/23 campaign, SC Freiburg have a fantastic 31 points on the board. The next step comes on Saturday at 15:30 CET, as FC Augsburg visit the Europa-Park Stadion for matchday 18.
Photo: Achim Keller