Our next opponents: Part of the establishment

The run-in to the winter break is here. Following the last international break of 2019, the Werkself have eight fixtures up to Christmas. That starts with a meeting with a surprise package in the Bundesliga this season: SC Freiburg visit the BayArena on Saturday (23 November, 15.30 CET). Their season has gone well to date although there have been a couple of setbacks in terms of personnel. The lowdown on our next opponents.


There was a real bust-up going into the international break. In added time in the game against Eintracht Frankfurt, the SC Freiburg coach Christian Streich was barged by Frankfurt's captain David Abraham, a melee ensued and numerous discussions took place in the following days. That almost hid the fact that Freiburg had won the game 1-0 and moved up to fourth in the table – ahead of teams like Borussia Dortmund, Schalke 04 and also put them three points ahead of the Werkself. A win against SCF on Saturday could put Bayer 04 level on points. It won't be an easy undertaking as the Streich team have proved to be incredibly solid this season with a place in the top third throughout. One oddity: Freiburg's only defeats in the season to date were against two newly promoted clubs, FC Köln: (1-2) and Union Berlin (0-2). Freiburg also went out of the DFB Cup in a second round 3-1 defeat to the team from Berlin.


A very solid defence has been a hit for the side from Baden this season. Freiburg have conceded 12 goals in the league so far with only league leaders Borussia Mönchengladbach (11) and VfL Wolfsburg (10) letting in less. The coach Streich has played either a back three or back five to date to make it difficult for opponents to create chances. The SCF defence can count on their top keeper playing against the Werkself: Alexander Schwolow is expected to return in goal following a muscle injury. In front of him, Freiburg have a new international: Robin Koch (pictured above) caught the eye of Joachim Löw through his calm performances in a strong Freiburg defence and in October he made his international debut for Germany. Koch played the full 90 minutes in the Euro 2020 qualifier against Belarus helping to secure Germany's path to next year's finals. Streich is able to rely on a number of key players up front: The attacks from left back Christian Günter (with five assists as a defender this season), the eye for a goal of striker Nils Petersen (six goals so far) and the dangerous set pieces from returnee Vincenzo Grifo.


Freiburg will have to make do without the last-named player against the Werkself. In the melee after Abraham's barge, Grifo was guilty of violent conduct against the Frankfurt defender and is now serving a three-match ban. And the international break did not just bring good news from a Freiburg perspective: The second Freiburg international after Koch, the striker Luca Waldschmidt collided with the Belarus keeper Gutor shortly after coming off the bench and he suffered a facial fracture, concussion as well as injuries to his right knee and ankle. That means no more action in 2019 for the much sought-after attacker and Freiburg travel to Leverkusen without Grifo and Waldschmidt. SCF will have to come up with new ideas to make up for the lack of their two best attacking players.


The calm in Freiburg around the role model Christian Streich has made a lot happen in recent years: Europa League participation, the fourth Bundesliga season in succession, two Freiburg international players at the moment – and now the former president of SCF, Fritz Keller is the head of the DFB. The club from the Breisgau have quietly worked their way up and are now a serious proposition in German football. The next step forward involves infrastructure: Next season, the team will play in the under-construction SC Stadium that will have a capacity of 35,000, which is much more than at their current home the Schwarzwald Stadium . Freiburg are now part of the establishment in Germany's top-flight – through their own unique way.


The new stadium is designed for the Bundesliga football. It's clear that Freiburg want to remain in the top division for the first years of the SC Stadium. That appears to be a more than realistic proposition given the 12-point lead over the relegation places. And if SCF are able to deal with the absence of Waldschmidt and can continue to play the same way then the new venue could become the stage for European matches in its first season.


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