Lots of excitement but no goals at home to Gladbach

First Team

An end-to-end game at the Europa-Park Stadion saw SC Freiburg and Borussia Mönchengladbach play out an entertaining 0-0 draw. There were chances for both sides, but a lack of precision in the final third prevented any goals.

The sold-out stadium was brimming with noise and atmosphere from the Freiburg fans before kick-off, and things went up a notch when stadium announcer Claus Köhn read out the team news. For the first time in over six months, Kevin Schade was back on the team sheet following his stomach muscle strain.

The 20-year-old started the game on the bench, and watched on as his teammates made a fast start: with just two minutes on the clock, Ritsu Doan took up a position similar to that which he scored from against Qarabag in midweek, but his attempt was off target.

The SCF coaching staff had made two changes to the team which started the Europa League clash on Thursday night, with Daniel-Kofi Kyereh replacing Wooyeong Jeong behind the striker. Incidentally, the man up top was the other change, as Michael Gregoritsch coming in for Nils Petersen. The Foals, who have collected eight points from their five games this season in a solid start, made two enforced changes: the suspended Ko Itakura and injured Allassane Plea missed out.

A fast and furious opening

Five minutes in, Gladbach created their first chance. A cross from the right was met by Florian Neuhaus 12 yards out, but his shot was fisted over the bar by Mark Flekken in the SCF goal.

In an open and even start to the match, the hosts had more possession of the ball. Matthias Ginter, who has history playing for Borussia, as does Vincenzo Grifo, pushed up the pitch from central defence alongside defensive partner Philipp Lienhart, often creating an overload for Freiburg in midfield. Once or twice, this meant they were caught out of position – Marcus Thuram was played in by Neuhaus on one of these occasions, but his attempt was well denied by Flekken (14’). At the other end, an almost identical chance played out just a couple of minutes later, but Yann Sommer was on hand to deny Kyereh after he was fed by Grifo.

“They had a couple of days more than us to prepare for the game, but the lads performed well despite that,” said head coach Christian Streich after the game. “I really saw Kofi and Gregerl [Gregoritsch] working tirelessly off the ball today. If we could be a bit more precise after winning the ball back, we would’ve been able to get something out of it,” he added.

Neuhaus suffers knee injury

Despite several half-chances for SC, it was the 28th minute before either goalkeeper was called back into action. A shot from Jonas Hofmann just inside the penalty area required Flekken’s full six-foot-five frame to deal with it, as did a shot from Thuram a minute later. The resulting corner kick was  also a cause for lots of action. As he cleared the ball, Kyereh collided heavily with Neuhaus. After trying to run the knock on the knee off, the Germany international went down and was unable to continue. He was replaced by Nathan N’Goumou.

Gladbach’s period of pressure quickly came to an end after the change, but Christian Streich’s team did not press their way forward as much as they did at the start of the game. As a result, the first half came to an end with no goals for either side.

Second half starts with set-piece danger

With no personnel changes at half time, the second half began in much the same vein as the first – it was a very even affair. As has been the case so often in the early stage of this season, Freiburg’s first opportunity of the half came from a Vincenzo Grifo set-piece. The Italian’s corner kick found Ginter, who looked to head back across for Nicolas Höfler, but overcooked his pass (53’). In a similar fashion, Gregoritsch later missed another Grifo cross, but was flagged offside (62’).

“The draw is probably the right result,” commented Streich after the final whistle. “You always think you can nick one in the last 25 minutes, though. I think our lads, and the way they committed themselves today, was class. They fought until the very last today, and earned the applause the fans gave them.”

Streich rings the changes

With around 20 minutes to go, Wooyeong Jeong and Yannik Keitel entered the fray for Kyereh, who had a fine game, and Maxi Eggestein. The substitutes looked to make a quick impact: on 76 minutes, Jeong found a yard of space in a central position after a fine back-heel from Gregoritsch. The quality of the setup, however, was matched by the quality of Sommer’s save to deny the South Korean international.

With the exception of that one chance, Freiburg’s attacks lacked that final precision to take them over the line. It was often the case that the final pass was either under-hit or too long. That did not change in the closing stages, as Nils Petersen, Noah Weißhaupt and, to rapturous applause, Kevin Schade all came into the game. Final score: 0-0 at the Europa-Park Stadion, even if the hosts were perhaps closer to a goal than their guests.

It's another quick turnaround for SC Freiburg now, as they play at 18:45 CEST on Thursday. This week’s Europa League match sees Christian Streich and co. travel to a cauldron of noise and atmosphere on the outskirts of Athens as they take on Olympiakos.

Photo: Achim Keller

Match facts

SC Freiburg: Flekken - Sildillia, Ginter, Lienhart, Günter - Höfler, Eggestein (69', Keitel) - Doan (81', Schade), Kyereh (69', Jeong), Grifo (81', Weißhaupt) - Gregoritsch (83', Petersen) 
Head coach: Christian Streich 
Unused substitutes: Uphoff, Gulde, Kübler, Schlotterbeck 
Borussia Mönchengladbach: Sommer - Scally, Friedrich, Kramer, Bensebaini - Kone, Weigl - Hofmann, Neuhaus (34', N'Goumo, 81', Borges Sanches), Stindl (81', Wolf) - Thuram 
Head coach: Daniel Farke 
Unused substitutes: Sippel, Herrmann, Lainer, Netz, Fraulo, Reitz 
Yellow cards: Günter - Bensebaini 
Referee: Tobias Stieler 
Attendance: 34,700 (sold out) 
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