A magical night in Greece

First Team

SC Freiburg secured a second Europa League win in as many games and took overall lead of their group. The 3-0 win against Olympiakos in Piraeus was secured by Nicolas Höfler (5’) and a brace from Michael Gregoritsch (25’, 52’).

Full time sparked wonderful celebrations for the team and fans following their dominant win on the outskirts of Athens. Head coach Christian Streich was eager to celebrate too, and was proud of his team: “We knew that Olympiakos were under a bit of pressure because their results haven’t been too good lately and we decided to go for it early on. The team carried that out brilliantly. We scored an early goal and played a top opening 25 minutes. All in all, it was a good and well-disciplined performance, and a deserved victory,” the 57-year old summarised, in his press conference after the game.

SCF went into the game in Greece with the same starting XI as which started the exciting goalless draw against Borussia Mönchengladbach, setting up in a 4-4-2 formation. In contrast, Carlos Corberan set his Olympiakos side up with four changes from their 1-1 draw with Volos FC – new signing Marcelo was not yet among their squad.

Even an hour before kick-off, the atmosphere in and around the Karaiskakis Stadium was a sight to behold and it gave an idea of how the game would go. The stands were not yet filled but the noise was incredibly impressive. Just before the match got underway, new Olympiakos signing James Rodriguez was introduced to the crowd, the noise level reaching fever pitch in the Greek evening.

Nevertheless, the 700 or so SCF fans, dressed all in white, made themselves heard in amongst the cauldron of noise and celebrated every moment – they would have lots of opportunity to cheer in the following 90 minutes.

A dominant opening and early rewards

Freiburg were on top from the off, and almost scored within the first minute. Daniel-Kofi Kyereh latched onto a loose pass inside the penalty area and drove down the inside left channel. His low shot was well-placed but former Basel goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik was able to save the shot.

That first big chance was quickly followed by the second, and this time the net rippled. A foul on Ritsu Doan meant Vincenzo Grifo was able to whip a cross in. The ball was powered into the near post, where Nicolas Höfler beat his man to flick a header into the far corner for the lead after just five minutes.

The Breisgau side, kitted out all in black for the evening, were playing champagne football and on the hunt for more. A fine piece of play between Doan and Kyereh saw Michael Gregoritsch narrowly miss from inside the box with a right-footed effort (13’).

Olympiakos were reeling and disorganised, with SC keeping the pressure on. Vaclik was the only man in the way of shots from both Gregoritsch and Kyereh. With the home side only pressing the ball in their own half and giving the ball away often, Freiburg were easily able to build up and then create dangerous quick counter attacks.

The second goal was a thing of beauty, cutting its way through the smoky Piraeus air. Kyereh chipped the ball wonderfully towards Gregoritsch in between two defenders, before the Austrian controlled and hammered the ball into the roof of the net from six yards. 2-0 after 25 minutes, and the away end was in dreamland.

Even after doubling their lead, SC kept their hold on the game. The first big chance for the home side came after a long 39 minutes, as Ui Jo Hwang got the ball past Mark Flekken in goal, but both Kiliann Sildillia and Philipp Lienhart were able to clear the ball away before Mas Pep Biel was able to poke the ball home.

Gregoritsch makes the game safe

Over the break, Corberan reacted to his side’s poor first half with two changes, bringing Oleg Reabciuk and former Mainz man Pierre Kunde into the game for Andreas Bouchalakis and Panagiotis Retsos. In terms of the flow of the game, though, nothing really changed apart from the setup of the Greek side, who pressed much higher.

In fact, it was SCF who made yet another fast start. Following a corner which was not well cleared, Sildillia won the ball before Grifo crossed to the back post. Matthias Ginter was there to head back across goal, where Gregoritsch was waiting to net his second of the game and send the away end into ecstasy (52’).

With a three goal lead and the Bundesliga game against TSG Hoffenheim on the horizon, Streich and the coaching staff decided to rest some weary legs and wind the tempo of the game down. Yannik Keitel had the best chance of the closing stages to make it 4-0, but his great header from a corner was narrowly off target (83’).

The full time whistle blew on a fully earned and deserved 3-0 win for the aggressive and tactically intelligent SC Freiburg, who have taken a maximum of 6 points in the Europa League group stage so far and take top spot in group G. Before the international break offers a pause to proceedings, SCF turn their attention to the Bundesliga and will take on TSG Hoffenheim in Sinsheim at 19:30 CEST.

Match facts

Olympiakos Piraeus: Vaclik - Vrsaljko (71', Pipa), Ba, Cissé, Retsos (45', Kunde) - Bowler (63', El-Arabi), M´Vila, Bouchalakis (45', Reabciuk), Pep Biel, Masouras (63', Mendes Rodrigues) - U.-J. Hwang 
Head coach: Carlos Corberán 
Unused substitutes: Tzolakis, Manolas, Sokratis, Androutsos, I.-B. Hwang, Vrousai, Kamara 
SC Freiburg: Flekken - Sildillia (78', Kübler), Ginter, Lienhart, Günter - Doan (69', Petersen), Eggestein, Höfler, Grifo (79', Keitel) - Gregoritsch (62', Schade), Kyereh (62', Jeong) 
Head coach: Christian Streich 
Unused substitutes: Uphoff, Atubolu, Siquet, Gulde, Schlotterbeck, Wagner 
Goals: 0-1 Höfler (5'), 0-2 Gregoritsch (25'), 0-3 Gregoritsch (52') 
Yellow cards: Mendes Rodrigues - Lienhart, Höfler 
Referee: Matej Jug 
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