Hoping for a special evening

First Team

SC will host RC Lens in the second leg of their UEFA Europa League play-off round tie on Thursday night (18:45 CET).

The word ‘special’ was used a lot during the press conference ahead of the second leg against the French side. Vincenzo Grifo described the atmosphere in the first leg as ‘special’, while Christian Streich stressed Thursday will also be ‘special’ and the performance will need to be ‘special’ too if his team are to have a chance.

SC missed several good chances to score in the first leg last week, something everyone in Freiburg will be hoping won’t be the case this time around. “We have to be clinical tomorrow,” said Grifo. Both teams defended well in Lens, however each will have to make changes for the second leg. Lens are without former Augsburg man Kevin Danso after his yellow card, but Facundo Medina, who missed the first leg after picking up three bookings in the Champions League group stage, is available again.

Yannik Keitel, who played well at centre-half last Thursday, could miss tomorrow’s match. “Yannik had problems with his back against Frankfurt. He then had an issue with his calf today in training, so he’s fairly unlikely to feature,” confirmed Streich. Matthias Ginter, who has suffered from an Achilles tendon problem recently, could return to the squad.

Focus on the defence

Streich is hoping for a performance as focused as the one last week at the Stade Bollaert-Delelis against the team who drew 1-1 against Stade Reims at the weekend. “Lens have a really good team and have enjoyed a lot of success over the past few months. We have a chance if we perform to our best. That’s the only way we can beat a team like this.”

SC came from behind three times on Sunday to draw 3-3 against Eintracht Frankfurt and even had the chance to win the game late on. Even with the away goals rule no longer in place, conceding three goals against the strong French opposition would probably mean Freiburg won’t be able to go through. “We’ve kept seven clean sheets in the league, just not any recently,” said Streich. “We’ve conceded too many goals, but we know why and have shown the players how in our video analysis.”

Grifo excited for the home crowd

The Europa-Park Stadion will be sold out on Thursday night and Vincenzo Grifo is confident that the home fans can be a decisive factor: “We hope our fans are as vocal as ever, as they were in Lens too. We’re excited to play in front of them – they give us lots of strength.”

The hope is there for a special European night under the floodlights at the Europa-Park Stadion – it certainly wouldn’t be the first for SC and their fans.

Photo: Achim Keller

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