The final three matchdays of the 2022/23 season are upon us, and it promises to be a thrilling end to the season at all ends of the table. SC Freiburg are already guaranteed to qualify for Europe for the second season in a row – whether it will be the Europa League again or the Champions League remains to be seen.
This weekend’s clash with Union Berlin could be a key moment in determining whether SC will be able to finish in the top four. Head coach Urs Fischer’s side will also be representing the Bundesliga on the European stage next season, and like SC, are still fighting for the best possible position in the table. Both sides are currently on 56 points heading into Saturday’s clash, with the Berliners just ahead of SC on goal difference. “We’re in a good position and can go into the match feeling optimistic,” said SCF head coach Christian Streich. “The same goes for Union. Like us, they have played a fantastic season so far, setting up this special clash. We’re looking forward to it.”
Those outside of the team make frequent mention of the pressure surrounding this match, which could be the make or break moment in determining which team ends up the Europa or Champions League. From SC’s perspective, this can be seen as “positive pressure,” according to Streich. “This game isn’t about who might be going down – that would be a very different kind of pressure.” At the same time, the 57-year-old said, “I don’t feel any pressure when looking at the table. I’m here with my coaching staff in order to make a decision on who will start for us.”
“Hopefully, everyone will get a good night’s rest in order to be ready to go on Saturday,” said Streich. Philipp Lienhart and Ritsu Doan, who only completed parts of training this week, are still doubts against Union.
SC and Union have both enjoyed strong campaigns so far in 2022/23. Both were competing in Europe this term and were only eliminated later on in the DFB-Pokal: Freiburg in the semis and Union in the quarterfinals. Both teams have been consistently in the top half of the table, and will see their efforts rewarded with European football in 2023/24. Streich has also identified one more similarity between the sides: “They have a very strong fan base and the team play well on a consistent basis. They aren’t knocked off their rhythm if they do lose a game. That’s also the case with us. Our mentality is also the same as theirs.”
Due to this, Streich is expecting “a very hard-fought, even game” in Berlin against a team “that knows how to defend as a unit and counter quickly.” He added, “Union’s style of play is easily identifiable, but that doesn’t make it any easier. If everything goes well for us, then we will be able to win in Berlin.”
Photo: SC Freiburg