Late fightback not enough against Union


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Matchday 32 saw a six-pointer in the race for Europe at the Stadion an der Alten Försterei, as both sides were level on 56 points in fourth and fifth place respectively. The two teams are guaranteed some form of European football next season, but the question of which competition they will play in remains open.

Both sides make three changes

With their strength at home firmly in the coaching staff’s minds, Christian Streich and co. set up with a back three. Yannik Keitel, Kiliann Sildillia and Ritsu Doan replaced Maxi Eggestein, Michael Gregoritsch and Noah Weißhaupt. Philipp Lienhart remained ill and was unable to play.

Urs Fischer made three changes to his home side. Andras Schäfer, Diogo Leite and Christopher Trimmel replaced Aissa Laidouni, Paul Jaeckel and Josip Juranovic.

SCF behind early

Whilst the south-west of Germany was firmly under cloud and rain, the Berlin sky was clear and sunny, with a temperature of 23 degrees. The spring mood and fierce support from the terraces meant the home side had the better start. It was just five minutes before Kevin Behrens found a way past Mark Flekken from inside the penalty area with a low drive – 1-0 to Union.

SC found it tough to get into dangerous positions against the well-populated Union defence, but also allowed their opponents too much space too often. The rapid Sheraldo Becker was particularly effective in evading his markers and causing danger in the box. “We had a couple of occasions where we were late to the second ball and defended very poorly. We weren’t quick or aggressive enough,” rued Streich after the full-time whistle.

With around half an hour played, Frederik Rönnow in the Union goal was called into action for the first time, as he tipped Lukas Kübler’s powerful header over the bar, before stopping a header from his own defender from ending up in the net at the resulting corner.

Just two minutes later, Kübler was forced off through injury – Roland Sallai replaced the right-back. “I made a mistake playing Lukas. He was ill during the week, but I thought he would be alright for the game. Turns out, we had to take him off after half an hour with circulation issues,” Streich explained.

SCF’s day did not get any better after that. Becker was found unmarked in the area and put the ball through Flekken’s legs to make it 2-0 on 36 minutes. Just three minutes later, Becker found the net again, scoring his second from range. The half ended with Union three goals up – the home side were efficient, SCF left a lot to be desired.

Gulde and Grifo set up grandstand finish

The second half began with an SCF change. Captain Christian Günter, who was playing his 300th Bundesliga game for Freiburg, was replaced by Weißhaupt. The start of the second half saw Streich’s side do better in keeping Union far from their goal and creating moments of danger themselves. Keitel first tested Rönnow seconds after the restart, before Manuel Gulde got a goal back by tapping a corner in from close range on 56 minutes – some hope for SCF? After all, there was 35 minutes remaining in Köpenick.

The away side smelled blood and were much more calm on the ball than in the first 45 minutes. After Lucas Höler missed a chance to make it 3-2, Roland Sallai was brought down inside the penalty area and the referee pointed to the spot. Vincenzo Grifo showed exceptional coolness to fire home (70’) and give the fans in the away end yet more hope.

Undone on the counter attack

The SCF pressure kept mounting. Gregoritsch and Sallai had big chances to equalise, but were defended well by Union. In a flash, though, the home side showed their ruthlessness and found the net with their first shot of the half. Becker was put through against an overcommitted Freiburg defence, and laid the ball on a plate for Aissa Laidouni, who scored FCU’s fourth goal with ten minutes to go.

Despite the setback, Freiburg did not give up and were on the attack once again. Matthias Ginter’s shot from 12 yards hit the post and was then cleared on the line, though, so it finished 4-2 to Union.

SC Freiburg will kick off matchday 33 with a game against VfL Wolfsburg, on Friday at 20:30 CEST.

Photo: Ottmar Winter


Late fightback not enough against Union

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