Final-day defeat in Berlin

First Team

SC Freiburg suffered a 2-1 defeat to 1. FC Union Berlin on the final day of the 2023/24 Bundesliga season and finish the campaign in 10th place, missing out on international competition.

Despite the disappointing result for Freiburg, the team was celebrated by the 2,500 travelling SC fans, who recognised their efforts throughout a demanding season. Additionally, head coach Christian Streich was honoured after the game, a match that marked the end of his twelve-and-a-half-year tenure in charge of the club.

“Union were under a lot of pressure and managed to get the win, which is a good outcome for them after a difficult season. For us, today was a very disappointing day, and my last here. I thank everyone sincerely,” said Streich after full time.

Another defensive reshuffle

Freiburg, with a lack of options in defence, made two changes to the side that drew 1-1 against Heidenheim. Jordy Makengo replaced the injured Manuel Gulde and Lucas Höler came in for Michael Gregoritsch.
Union's interim coach Marco Grote made three changes to their starting XI, introducing Josip Juranovic, Lucas Tousart, and Yorbe Vertessen in place of the suspended Rani Khedira and injured Jérome Roussillon, while Kevin Volland dropped to the bench.

Freiburg also visited the Stadion An der Alten Försterei during last season’s run-in. However, this time the circumstances were different. While both teams were fighting for a Champions League spot on Matchday 32 of the 22/23 season, which Union eventually secured, this year Union were battling relegation, while Freiburg were hunting a place in next season’s Europa or Conference League.

Eggestein goes close

The atmosphere at the Stadion An der Alten Försterei was tense and heated before the game, with a lot riding on the result for both teams.
The first chance of the game came after ten minutes when Freiburg hit on the break and Ritsu Doan found Maximilian Eggestein, who found himself one-on-one with Frederik Rönnow, but the Union keeper's pulled off a good save with his foot. More of the same promised to follow, with both sides looking to take an attacking approach.

While Freiburg came close through an attempt from Roland Sallai (17’), Union had also threatened with some dangerous counters that only lacked the final ball.
In the 35th minute, VAR was brought into play and referee Christian Dingert awarded a penalty to the home side after the ball struck Jordy Makengo’s arm from close range in the area. Josip Juranovic stepped up for Union but his powerful effort was saved by Noah Atubolu.

While the first half ended goalless in Köpenick, there were goals elsewhere. Heidenheim were 3-0 up against Köln, meaning that Union basically had the relegation playoff spot secured at a minimum. For Freiburg, current scores had them in 8th, with 7th still in reach due to Hoffenheim trailing against Bayern.

Union take the lead

SC Freiburg looked to invite the opposition into the press before going long, which led to a few half-chances. At the other end, SCF defence managed to to keep Union largely at bay for the opening twenty minutes of the second half.

That changed in the 68th minute, when substitute Benedict Hollerbach found the back of the net from the edge of the box to give the home side the lead. In response, Freiburg went back on the attack and came close just four minutes later. Michael Gregoritsch hit a right-footed volley goalwards but saw his effort cleared just before the line (72’).

Equaliser cancelled out

The final phase of the game was action packed. Winning the ball in their own half, Freiburg attacked quickly on the break and Vincenzo Grifo found Ritsu Doan in the box, who equalised for Streich’s side in the 85th minute.

However, the joy among Freiburg fans was short-lived when the referee pointed to the spot for a second penalty for the home side, this time penalising Maximilian Eggestein for a tackle in the area. Although Noah Atubolu pulled off a second penalty save, pushing Kevin Volland's shot onto the post, Janik Haberer was there turn in the rebound (90’+2) to give Union the lead once again, meaning SC Freiburg would miss out on a European spot.

SCF were unable to find a second equaliser in the nine added minutes and succumbed to a 2-1 defeat. Therefore, Streich’s side finished an intense season, in which they were competing in three competitions and suffered a number of injury setbacks, in 10th place. Meanwhile, Union Berlin climbed to 15th place on the final day and secured Bundesliga status for the coming season.

Photo: Achim Keller

Match facts

1. FC Union Berlin: Rönnow - Doekhi, Knoche, Leite (63', Haberer) - Trimmel, Schäfer (63', Volland), Juranovic, Tousart - Gosens, Vertessen (63', Hollerbach), Aaronson (80', Laidouni) 
Head coach: Marco Grote 
Unused subs: Schwolow, Jaeckel, Kaufmann, Bedia, Král 
SC Freiburg: Atubolu - Kübler, Keitel, Makengo, Günter (59', Weißhaupt) - Doan, Eggestein, Höfler, (82', Muslija) Grifo - Sallai (77', Philipp), Höler (59', Gregoritsch) 
Head coach: Christian Streich 
Unused subs: Müller, Szalai, Adamu, Rosenfelder 
Goals: 1-0 Hollerbach (68'), 1-1 Doan (85'), 2-1 Haberer (90'+2) 
Yellow cards: Knoche, Trimmel, Juranovic, Gosens - Makengo, Doan, Kübler, Eggestein 
Red cards: - 
Referee: Christian Dingert 
Attendance: 20,012 


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