On Saturday Freiburg begin their Bundesliga season with an away game against Augsburg (15:30 CEST).
The team will enjoy a slightly quieter start to the campaign before the hectic nature of the schedule fully kicks in with Bundesliga, Pokal and Europa League fixtures in September. The Breisgauer also enter the season with a larger squad than in the previous season, which could mean less game time for some players, at least at the start of the season. This means Christian Streich is placing all the more value on the togetherness within the team, wanting them to compete across all three fronts. “We have to show as a team that we can work really, really well together and don’t begrudge anyone’s place in the team. In a few weeks we will be playing Thursday-Sunday, Thursday-Sunday, so we are happy to have so many players in the squad.”
With regards to togetherness and fighting spirit, the longest serving coach in the Bundesliga was very pleased with the first competitive game of the season – the Pokal clash in Kaiserslautern. “Against Kaiserslautern we had to put in a lot of energy and it was a really hard test. The boys did well, also to control their emotions. It was very important to maintain our self control,” Streich summed up a few days after the game.
On the training pitch at the Europa-Park Stadion the first round of the cup had little influence. ”We had a short week and high temperatures so you had to take care at what times to train”, Streich explained. “Our single intensive training session was dedicated towards preparation for the game in Augsburg”.
Augsburg are expected to play much more offensively than the second-division side from Kaiserslautern. Enrico Maaßen, who took over from Markus Weinzierl in the summer, prepares his team to play aggressively and specifically to each opponent. It is highly likely then, that Augsburg set up with a high press on Saturday and try to gain control of the game.
Freiburg supporters will fondly remember both meetings against Augsburg last year. The 3-0 win early in the season coincided with the highly emotional departure from the Dreisamstadion. In the second clash of the season Nils Petersen struck after four minutes, before Nico Schlotterbeck scored the winner in the 26th minute.
Also a scorer in that game was Michael Gregoritsch, who will have the opportunity on the first day of the season to see his old colleagues again, while the same is also the case but reversed for Ermedin Demirovic. “Gregerl played tidily, but we have also looked back over a few things together,” said Streich of the new signing’s performance against Kaiserslautern. Gregoritsch will also hope to be in contention to start against Ausgburg.
There will most likely be around 2,000 Freiburg fans following the team in Augsburg on Saturday, while tickets can also be purchased at the ground on the day. Kevin Schade and Lucas Höler are still ruled out for the season opener, as well as Kimberly Ezekwem, who has a tendon injury. Lukas Kübler is also a serious doubt due to muscular problems.
Photo: Achim Keller