After getting into the flow of playing a game every three days in September, October and November, the long winter break and the World Cup in Qatar abruptly broke SCF’s rhythm. After a productive couple of months and a good training camp in Sotogrande, Streich’s side are ready to resume their Bundesliga campaign.
Freiburg are returning to Bundesliga action with three games in seven days. After their trip to Wolfsburg (Saturday, 21st January, 15:30 CET), they will host Eintracht Frankfurt (Wednesday, 25th January, 20:30 CET), and FC Augsburg (Saturday, 28th January, 15:30 CET). The final game of the three will also mark the start of the second half of the Bundesliga season.
There were positive signs for SCF during the winter break. Despite missing some of their international players, they beat Karlsruhe 3-2 and drew 1-1 with Young Boys in friendlies just before Christmas. They also won their two matches at the training camp against FC Basel (3-2) and Hamburger SV (6-2). Aside from the results, Christian Streich is optimistic about his side’s chances in 2023: “I was happy with what I saw on the training ground just now. The atmosphere and the focus are positive. I hope that it continues like this on matchday 15 and we can continue on this good level.” explained the head coach.
Streich also made it clear that the players need to show all the things that made them successful in 2022 against VfL Wolfsburg at the weekend. “We will only take something from the game on Saturday if we are 100% focussed and we are willing to do things in the right way. We must not put a foot wrong,” warned the gaffer, who expects a tough match on Saturday. “Wolfsburg will 100% be in contention for the European spots. They have so much quality and are so clear in how they play.”
Although SCF are ahead of VfL in the table, Saturday’s opponents have gradually been working their way up the league and are unbeaten in their last nine in all competitions. Seven points separate second-placed Freiburg with seventh-placed Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga table. “Of course they are in good shape. Their disciplined processes on the pitch are very good. That’s exactly what I have told our team. I have also mentioned who they have beaten and how they have won everywhere,” said Streich.
In terms of personnel, there were one or two changes over the break. Kevin Schade (Brentford) Hugo Siquet (Cercle Brugge) and Keven Schlotterbeck (Bochum) were all sent out on loan. Youth talent Kenneth Schmidt was also called up to the first team.
1,600 SCF fans will make the trip to Wolfsburg on Saturday to support their team. Other than Roland Sallai, who is doubtful due to muscular problems, Streich should have a full squad to choose from.
Photo: Achim Keller