After a poor Hinrunde, Dieter Hecking’s Borussia Mönchengladbach have been under pressure to pick up points. For SC Freiburg, it's been a case of writing their own story having only lost once since December 3rd, against Bayern Munich. Thus, the clash at Borussia-Park on Saturday afternoon promises to be an interesting match-up.
Die Fohlen are in a tough situation after their underwhelming first half of the season. They’re only five points above the relegation spots, sitting 13th with 20 points. In such a delicate position, starting a winning streak after their victory against Bayer Leverkusen last week would be important. Indeed, on the previous match day they beat Roger Schmidt’s side with the odd goal in a five-goal thriller.
Christian Streich’s side are doing a good job as a promoted team and 2. Bundesliga champions. They are defying the odds as everyone was convinced that they would be fighting for their survival. Anything but. The team from the Black Forest currently occupies eighth spot in the league, with 26 points. Last Sunday they won at home against a strong Hertha BSC side, with the goals coming from Janik Heberer and Nils Petersen.
What can we expect from the hosts?
On Friday afternoon, the head coach of Borussia Mönchengladbach discussed the game with the press. He praised Freiburg: “All the talk has been about Leipzig and Hoffenheim but for me, Freiburg have been one of the biggest surprises. You could never have expected that this team would already have 26 points at this stage of the season. They really have been outstanding.”
He also bowed to his counterpart: “Streich deserves huge credit for the way he continues to get things right and to play successful football with these opportunities and this team”. It means that the home side must be careful, notably because they have already been surprised by them in September as they lost 3-1 at Schwarzwald Stadion.
The coach also described their opponent as an energetic team, with a “strong mentality” and “a team spirit that is driven by Christian Streich in a way that no other coach does in a team”. He also stated that they should play as they did last Saturday against Bayer Leverkusen to beat them. For his first game at home, they “want to show that they [the fans] were right to get tickets, so of course I am looking forward to my first home match but I will be a lot happier if we have three more points afterwards”.
The home side will have to continue without many key players as well as their new signing Timothée Kolodziejczak, who has suffered an ankle sprain and will be out until further notice. This injury extends the long list of absents which includes Tobias Strobl, Ibrahima Traoré, Nico Elvedi, Marvin Schulz and Mamadou Doucouré. However, Patrick Herrmann might make his comeback as Hecking said. He will be back in full training on Friday afternoon, so it should be possible that he is included in the squad.
A confident SC Freiburg will travel to Mönchengladbach
Confidence will be an important factor for the away side as their last victory in North Rhine-Westphalia was in 1995. Although a victory would be precious to secure eighth position, Christian Streich declared in press conference earlier on Friday that he was happy with “the way his team has been training in the last few weeks”. His players are “extremely motivated” and he is "sure that everyone wants to continue to give their best".
Though, Streich warned his squad by saying that “we must give our best and play with passion, because if we fail, it will not be enough against Mönchengladbach”. So, even if there is confidence following their last few performances, they must be careful and keep a cool head.