SCF let lead slip in Augsburg

First Team

Despite leading through a Vincenzo Grifo penalty, SC Freiburg lost 2-1 away to FC Augsburg on matchday 23 of the 2023/24 Bundesliga season. 

It was SCF’s first game after Thursday night’s spectacle which saw them progress to the last 16 of the Europa League. Therefore, one of the main questions of the day concerned how Freiburg would cope after the intense 120 minutes against Lens earlier in the week. 

The coaching staff decided to make three changes to the team that started the 3-2 (aet) victory on Thursday night and reshuffled things at the back once again. Christian Günter, Vincenzo Grifo and Michael Gregoritsch came in for Jordy Makengo, Kiliann Sildillia and Roland Sallai, and as he did in the closing phases of the Lens game, veteran Nicolas Höfler began the game at the centre of the back three. 

The head coach of the hosts, Jess Thorup, made two changes to the starting XI that lost in Mainz last weekend. Maximilian Bauer and Fredrik Jensen replaced Arne Engels and the suspended Jeffrey Gouweleeuw.  

Grifo with an early penalty 

The hosts made the brighter start to proceedings at the WWK Arena. After being played through well by his teammates, Iago found himself through on Noah Atubolu’s goal, with the retreating Ritsu Doan getting back to decisively put the defender off from behind. In the end, it was a tame effort from the wing-back, as the ball rolled wide of the far post and behind for a goal kick (4’). 

The visitors were also able to create a decent chance themselves in the opening minutes. After Doan’s solo run and Röhl’s cross, the ball headed towards Michael Gregoritsch about 12 yards out from goal. However, the cross was just a whisker too far in front of the Austrian, and the alert Finn Dahmen was able to claim the ball just before it reached the attacker (8’).  

Freiburg’s game plan consisted of keeping things calm and careful on the ball, and after withstanding the initial period of Augsburg pressure, they slowly grew into the game, and didn’t let any tired legs from Thursday show, winning a penalty in the 18th minute. Vincenzo Grifo was fouled in the box and stepped up to take the resulting spot kick. The attacker sent Dahmen the wrong way and fired it hard and low into the bottom-left corner, giving the away side the lead. 

One goal up at half time 

Even though the lead gave Freiburg some more security on the pitch, some misunderstandings could be seen amongst the team at times, particularly at the back. That said, SCF didn’t concede too many chances during this phase of the game, because they worked hard to make up for any mistakes that had been made. 

It was only shortly before the break that FCA would threaten Noah Atubolu’s goal once again. The keeper produced a sharp reflex save from Ruben Vargas’ 25-yard free kick (44’). As Ermedin Demirović’s close-range shot also didn’t find the net (45’+1) and Felix Uduokhai only found the side netting with a header from a corner (45’+3), the scoreline remained 1-0 come half time. 

The Freiburg coaching staff had already been forced into making their first substitution at this point. As the defensive injury crisis continued, Lukas Kübler went down after 35 minutes and was no longer able to continue. He was replaced by Matthias Ginter.

Augsburg turn up the pressure and score 

The hosts picked up from where they left off in the second half and continued to apply the pressure. SCF made things difficult for themselves in the face of Augsburg’s high pressing and physicality, and they were lucky that Phillip Tietz shot over following a ball in from the right flank (49’). 

Pushed deep into their own half, the away side only rarely launched attacks that would provide momentary relief, but the travelling Freiburg support thought they were about to celebrate a second goal around the hour mark. Ritsu Doan was played through nicely on the left flank, but narrowly missed the target from close range. 

More and more, the game was taking place in front of Freiburg’s goal, and Noah Atubolu was called into action on several occasions, and he dealt with these situations well. However, he was finally beaten in the 72nd minute. He was just about able to fish a looping shot away from his goal, but he could do nothing to stop Felix Uduokhai’s rebound from close range, who subsequently made it 1-1. 

The home side had completed the turnaround just ten minutes later, as SCF’s powers began to fade. Arne Engels slalomed around his opponents on the edge of the penalty area and fired a low shot into the bottom-left corner from 16 yards out to make it 2-1 (81’). It would turn out to be the winner, as Freiburg were unsuccessful in their search for an equaliser and for a point to take away from Augsburg. 

“We knew what to expect in Augsburg, we wanted to be solid and look to generate counter-attacking situations. Unfortunately, we weren’t as successful in this regard as we had planned to be. Augsburg were hungry and stayed sharp until the final whistle, whilst our batteries were running on empty,” summarised assistant coach Lars Voßler at the post-match press conference, on behalf of Christian Streich, who had picked up a knock. 

SCF’s next league fixture is coming up on Friday (20:30 CET) as they host FC Bayern München at the Europa-Park Stadion. 

Photo: Achim Keller  

Match facts

FC Augsburg: Dahmen - Mbabu, Bauer, Uduokhai, Iago - Jensen (56', Engels), Jakic, Vargas (84', Dorsch), Rexhbecaj (56', Maier) - Demirovic, Tietz (79', Beljo) 
Head coach: Jess Thorup 
Bench: Koubek, Gumny, Pep Biel, Breithaupt, Michel 
SC Freiburg: Atubolu - Kübler (37', Ginter), Höfler, Gulde - Doan, Eggestein, Röhl (76', Sildillia), Günter (66', Makengo) - Höler, Gregoritsch (66', Sallai), Grifo 
Head coach: Christian Streich 
Bench: Müller, Szalai, Weißhaupt, Adamu, Muslija 
Goals: 0-1 Grifo (19'), 1-1 Uduokhai (72'), 2-1 Engels (81') 
Yellow cards: Vargas, Bauer - Höfler 
Referee: Bastian Dankert 
Attendance: 28,894 


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