A busy week draws to a close for SC Freiburg, with the first leg of their Europa League quarterfinal tie against Juventus behind them. Despite the packed schedule facing his team, head coach Christian Streich has still made sure to find the time to prepare for this weekend’s league game.
“I watched a Hoffenheim game on the flight to Turin,” he said. Following a narrow 1-0 defeat to the Serie A side on Thursday evening, Streich commented, “I’m not thinking of the second leg at all yet. We have an important game against Hoffenheim on Sunday, and are in a good position in the league still.”
Maintaining their position in the table
SC go into matchday 24 sitting in fifth place, while they are level on points with RB Leipzig in fourth (42 points each). Hoffenheim, meanwhile, can be found on the other end of the table and are firmly embroiled in the relegation battle.
TSG were in fourth when these two sides met on matchday 7 in the first half of the season (0-0), and were still in the same position after matchday 10. Now, their position has drastically changed. The Villagers have lost each of their last six games and are winless in their last 13 matches across all competitions, and have dropped into the relegation zone as a result of this poor run.
Hoffenheim are yet to win a game under new head coach Pellegrino Matarazzo, who succeeded André Breitenreiter ahead of matchday 20. TSG have lost 1-0 in each of their last three games, against 1. FSV Mainz 05, Borussia Dortmund and FC Augsburg.
This weekend’s match at the Europa-Park Stadion will be TSG’s 500th in the Bundesliga, while it will be SC’s 772nd. The two sides have met 25 times since TSG’s promotion to the top flight in 2009, with SC leading the head-to-head record iwth eight wins (D11, L6).
Focus back on the Bundesliga
With SC competing on all three fronts this season, double game weeks are nothing new for the side. The match against Hoffenheim comes right in between both legs of their round of 16 clash against Juventus, meaning Freiburg will need to quickly refocus on the Bundesliga.
“We need to summon all our strength and get our minds to a place where we can deliver a focused and high-energy game on Sunday,” said Streich. “If we manage to score a goal more than Hoffenheim, that would be a great performance from us after what was a very tiring game in Turin.”
It remains to be seen whether Philipp Lienhart, who was taken off with a knock in the second half against Juventus, will be able to feature this weekend. Daniel Kofi Kyereh (ACL) and Wooyeong Jeong (recovering from illness) both did not travel to Italy.
Captain Christian Günter is focused on what’s still to come, saying “there’s a lot at stake,” both in the Europa League and Bundesliga. Hoffenheim have a strong squad and the recent meetings between the sides have been close ties. “It will be a tough game,” said Günter. “We need to be ready to give it 100% out on the pitch.”
Photo: Achim Keller