SC Freiburg suffer heavy defeat against Leipzig

First Team

SC Freiburg fell to a 4-1 defeat against third-place RB Leipzig in front of a home crowd on matchday 28. The visitors took control of the game in the first half, and despite the deficit, Vincenzo Grifo was able to get one back after the break.

Saturday afternoon’s clash against RB Leipzig was anything but plain sailing for SC Freiburg. By the time that the home side got settled into the game, RBL were already 4-0 up, a comeback from which would have been way too big an ask.

SC, who set up with the same starting XI that beat Borussia Mönchengladbach last weekend, had barely even touched the ball when Leipzig found the back of the net for the first time. Amadou Haidara opened the scoring for the visitors just two minutes after kick off after Leipzig stormed through the Freiburg defence, and continued to pose a threat to the opposition goal from then on. RBL were quick in transition and counter attacked at pace, so it’s no surprise that the side have scored a league best of eleven goals from counter attacks so far this season.

When Xavi Simons embarked on a solo run all the way from Leipzig’s half into the SC penalty area in the eighth minute, it looked as though the visitors were about to double their lead, yet Manuel Gulde was on hand to clear the danger. Merlin Röhl stepped up next and had space to shoot on the left, but was unable to pull the trigger in time. Freiburg showed increased courage after getting off to a rocky start and had a number of chances, which saw Lucas Höler curl it over the bar (12’) and Röhl’s cross into the box get cleared moments before it could reach an unmarked Michael Gregoritsch (14’). Röhl had a huge presence in the game and set the pace time and time again, but no one was able to get on the end of his crosses and Leipzig were the ones to find success in the final third.

SC’s penalty hits the woodwork

Leipzig played a long ball over the top into Lois Openda, who won the foot race against Yannik Keitel and struck it past goalkeeper Noah Atubolu with composure to double RBL’s lead (18'). Streich’s instructions to the boys became louder after that, but SC still lacked conviction going forward and Leipzig continued to pile on the pressure. Xavi upped the tempo after winning back possession with a pass from deep into Openda, who pulled the trigger, but this time Atubolu was there to put in a critical save and deny Leipzig their third (24’). The keeper was then forced to act again ten minutes later when Benjamin Hendrichs let fly from 18 metres out.

SC Freiburg’s first clear-cut chance came through Christian Günter in the 36th minute, when he had a go from the edge of the box, but his shot was cleared for a corner. Just when it seemed as though play would continue as normal, referee Daniel Siebert went over to consult VAR for a possible handball offence, and decided to award a penalty to the hosts. As Vincenzo Grifo was on the bench, Höler stepped up to take it, but his effort from the spot rebounded off the crossbar. The guests, on the other hand, kept to the standard they set before and found the back of the net, through Openda once again, after the forward beat Keitel in a 1-v-1 and slotted home RBL’s third (44’). “Leipzig had a really strong first half. Instead of us getting one back to make it 2-1, they scored another. After that, it’s difficult to turn things around against a team like Leipzig,” explained Grifo, who came on after the break.

Grifo gets a consolation goal

Streich introduced Vincenzo Grifo and Kiliann Sildillia for the second half, which saw Nicolas Höfler have a decent chance with a header after just a minute. The hosts started the second 45 minutes well and put their opponents under more pressure. Ritsu Doan’s volley from a corner flew just over the bar, however another pass in behind and then a square ball resulted in Leipzig’s fourth, scored by Benjamin Sesko (54’).

Grifo got one back for SC in the 59th minute. Some quick footwork got him past a Leipzig defender and then he fired a low shot into the far corner for 4-1. The side fifth in the league let Freiburg come at them, who were improved since Grifo came on, but still kept things tight and didn’t allow SC many chances.

Röhl played a ball through to Doan, who in turn passed it to Höler, but his ball across the six-yard box failed to find a teammate. When Roland Sallai headed against the bar, he hadn’t even been on the pitch for a minute (77’). The second-half performance by SC was much improved, and, in the words of Christian Günter, the side “never backed down”, but they were always fighting a losing battle due to the heavy deficit.

Streich took it upon himself to claim some of the responsibility for Saturday’s defeat. “We defended poorly when they scored their goals, but I don’t want to blame it entirely on the players. My tactics weren’t right today. We were aiming to match Leipzig, but were unable to do that. I’m disappointed with both the result and myself today.”

Photo: Achim Keller

Match facts

SC Freiburg starting XI: Atubolu - Kübler (46. Sildillia), Keitel (86. Philipp), Gulde - Doan, Eggestein, Höfler, Günter - Röhl (86. Makengo), Höler (75. Sallai), Gregoritsch (46. Grifo) 
Head coach: Christian Streich 
Bench: Müller, Szalai, Adamu, Sallai, Muslija, Sildillia, Philipp, Grifo, Makengo 
RB Leipzig starting XI: Gulacsi - Henrichs (75. Simakan), Orban, Lukeba, Raum - Olmo (75. Baumgartner), Schlager, Haidara (83. Seiwald), Simons (89. Klostermann) - Openda, Sesko (83. Elmas) 
Head coach: Marco Rose 
Bench: Blaswich, Simakan, Lenz, Bitshiabu, Elmas, Seiwald, Baumgartner, Klostermann, Kampl 
Goals: 0-1 Haidara (2'), 0-2 Openda (18'), 0-3 Openda (44'), 0-4 Sesko (54'), 1-4 Grifo (59') 
Yellow cards: Höler, Doan, Sallai - Schlager, Sesko, Raum, Orban 
Red cards: 
Referee: Daniel Siebert 
Attendance: 33,200  

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