Freiburg put four past Schalke


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A mild Spring afternoon in Breisgau began perfectly for SC, with Michael Gregoritsch putting the hosts ahead inside just eight minutes. Ritsu Doan played a brilliantly timed and weighted pass into the Austrian’s run, and he slotted low to the right of Alexander Schwolow to make it 1-0.

The quick lead helped Christian Streich’s side forget all about the yellow-card suspensions to Maximilian Eggestein and Roland Sallai. They were replaced in the starting formation by Yannik Keitel and Gregoritsch, who had recently been struggling with an ankle problem. Lucas Höler also shook off a cold in time for the match and lined up alongside Gregoritsch in attack.

Schalke head coach Thomas Reis was without the likes of Cedric Brunner, Tim Skarke, Maya Yoshida, Eder Balanta and Ralf Fährmann for the trip down south, with former Freiburg goalkeeper Alexander Schwolow deputising between the sticks. The 30-year-old had to make a double save just six minutes in to deny a Gregoritsch header and then Doan’s rebound, but it wasn’t long after that the same pair combined to have Schwolow picking the ball out of his net.

Freiburg’s determined start

The last time Freiburg had scored more than twice in a Bundesliga match was in the 3-1 win over FC Augsburg back in late January, and in the early stages, it looked like the attack were hungry to change that. First Vincenzo Grifo rattled the post after being played in by Doan (13’), before Höler’s shot from 20 yards slipped agonisingly wide of the target (18’).

The 34,700 spectators in a sold-out Europa-Park Stadion saw a fast-paced first half, with plenty of possession for the home side. The visitors from the Ruhr Valley had the odd, good phase, but they never really carried a threat. At the other end, the quartet of Grifo, Doan, Höler and Gregoritsch were causing the Schalke back-four problems with their fluid movement. The Royal Blues were also struggling to keep tabs on Freiburg captain Christian Günter, who scored his first Bundesliga goal against S04 in 2014.

Gregoritsch at the double

Schwolow was able to deny Grifo from making it 2-0 with a low show in the 34th minute, but he wasn’t able to do anything against Gregoritsch just a minute later. The former Schalke player got a decisive head to Lukas Kübler’s whipped ball forward, and it nestled in the bottom corner for SC’s second.

Even though the sunshine was replaced by more familiar spring weather of grey clouds and rain after the break, there was no dampening the spirits of the home supporters. Their side continued to play delightful football, and after 52 minutes, the scoreline read 3-0. Freiburg drove forward with Grifo, Doan and Gregoritsch, before the ball fell fortuitously for Höler to bury past the keeper.

The Schalke stopper certainly wasn’t the culprit behind the result from the visitors’ perspective, as Christian Streich also highlighted after the game: “The goals obviously helped us, but we also had two or three other good chances that Schwoli saved really well.”

A deflected Günter cross that found Gregoritsch was also kept out brilliantly by Schwolow from close range (64’), before he also tipped Philipp Lienhart’s effort from long distance around the post (67’).

Ginter wraps things up

The Freiburg coaching staff’s changes in the closing period of the match included the introduction of Merlin Röhl, who had a hand in a goal for the first time. A corner from Günter was acrobatically flicked on by the midfielder towards the back post, where Ginter only needed to turn the ball home (82’). “The team knew what to expect today and they were resolute – that’s why we got the win today, and we deserved to. Sometimes things just go your way on a day like today.”

Despite a number of openings against a tired and beaten Schalke in the final minutes, the final score remained 4-0 to put SC on 53 points after 29 matchdays. A win next Saturday at 1. FC Köln (15:30 CEST) would see Freiburg top their tally of 55 points from the whole of last season

Freiburg put four past Schalke

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