After three evening fixtures, Freiburg are playing on a Saturday afternoon (15:30 CEST) for the first at home in the Bundesliga this season. SCF will be taking on Mainz 05 on matchday 8 at the Europa-Park Stadion.
13 games in 44 days – that’s the schedule that the SC players and coaches will be dealing in the coming weeks. During the international break, some players got competitive match minutes, with 12 members of the squad on duty with their respective nations. Aside from the expected tired legs, there were a few minor injuries here and there: Philipp Lienhart and Daniel-Kofi Kyereh both suffered knocks, while Hugo Siquet is nursing a knee ligament strain, making him therefore unavailable to take on Mainz at the weekend.
On the other hand, Lucas Höler could be named in the squad for the first time this campaign after a successful operation on a metatarsal fracture. “Lucas played an hour in a training game against the U23s,” head coach Christian Streich said. “He felt a little bit on his foot, but it was all fine. Now we can move forwards. Maybe he will be on the bench Saturday, but certainly not starting.”
Sallai training his eyes
For Roland Sallai, who suffered an injury by his eyes against Bayer Leverkusen, this game has just come a bit early, according to the coach, who commented: “He’s not yet at the point where he can train with the team. He is currently working on eye training. That has to be done in order to continue with a clear field of vision.”
Lots of players have been discussed by the Freiburg coaching staff ahead of this busy month, but without specifically planning too far ahead. “We’re looking at the next game, and the one after that – but no more,” Streich said. The coaches’ own observations of the squad, and conversations with the players, are of more importance than statistics about distance covered and minutes played.
Despite the increased workload, the anticipation for the upcoming games remains high. “It’s not usual to go two weeks without having played a match. So that was pleasant, but now it is nice that we have a home game coming up on Saturday. I believe the fans are happy because the boys have done very well – and that isn’t recent news,” Streich added. The home section is sold out, with a few singles available on the ticket exchange.
Mainz are strong away
Saturday’s opponents, Bo Svensson’s Mainz, have looked very robust away from home this season. The Rhineland-based side have won three out of their four Bundesliga games on the road so far – only Freiburg have taken more points in as many away games. “They have showed a lot of variation in their play, but normally you expect a back three from them,” Streich explained. A particular point of focus has been preparing to deal with Mainz’s transitional game, with which they have managed to supply good chances to their current top scorer Karim Onisiwo.
“They have got energy, power, and will make us do a lot of running,” stated the Sport-Club coach. He concluded in his typical pragmatic fashion: “We don’t fear any opponent. We are pleased that we have opponents – otherwise we wouldn’t be able to play.”