SC Freiburg and Eintracht Frankfurt opened their Bundesliga campaigns with a low-key goalless draw.
It could have been different if Tim Kleindienst hadn’t had a goal disallowed by the video assistant referee for offside, or if Frankfurt had swallowed up the chances they had in the first half, particularly from Simon Falette and Sébastien Haller.
Even the introduction of Kevin-Prince Boateng by Frankfurt boss Niko Kovac could do little to wake the game from its second half slumber, ultimately leading to the first draw of the Bundesliga season.
Kleindienst denied by VAR after Falette sitter
Frankfurt had six debutants in their starting line-up and even found place on the bench for Boateng, despite him only signing on a free transfer on Friday. Philipp Lienhart was the new only man for Freiburg, although Kleindienst was making his Bundesliga debut after spending last season on loan at 1. FC Heidenheim.
After a slightly slow start, Frankfurt’s army of new faces began to click. One of those, Haller had a shot through two defenders tipped wide by Alexander Schwolow, with a low effort from Mijat Gacinovic following the corner proving no such test for the Freiburg goalkeeper.
After a strange free-kick passed harmlessly through the box, Gacinovic put the ball back in with the most dangerous of crosses, and Falette should have headed in the opener. The cross had beaten Schwolow, yet the defender signed from FC Metz could only head it wide.
He would have been ruing that miss even more when everyone though Frieburg had score just moments later. A quick move forward so the ball fell to Florian Niederlechner, who crossed in from the right for Kleindienst to put it home. Initial replays showed though that Niederlechner looked offside, and when Manuel Gräfe consulted with the video assistant referee it was decided that was indeed the case, and the goal did not stand.
In what quite a physically encounter, Freiburg had a better spell after the goal that wasn’t, however they failed to record a shot on target in that period. Frankfurt grew back into the game, and Haller had an excellent chance to score after fighting his way past Pascal Stenzel and Julian Schuster. He was through on goal but smashed his shot into the bar, and was unable to pick up the rebound.
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Boateng introduction fails to bring game to life
Some inattentive defending from Frankfurt could have handed Freiburg the opener early in the second half. Schuster’s free-kick was allowed to find an unmarked Nicolas Höfler at the far post, but his shot was not good enough to concern Lukás Hradecky. Otherwise, the first 20 minutes of the half were rather tame, with Frankfurt looking more like a team with only five familiar players.
Their response to that was to bring on another new face in the form of Boateng. He appeared to have a positive impact for them, as they pushed forward more in search of a goal. After a header from Timothy Chandler was cleared by Schuster, Boateng connected with the following corner only to see it go wide. He then got his wires crossed with Falette as they both went for a Jetro Willems cross, which the latter headed over.
Freiburg had offered little in the second half but a super-sub of their own, Nils Petersen, had a good chance with just under ten minutes later. Receiving the ball from Marco Terrazzino, he placed his shot on target, but Gelson Fernandes put in a vital block to send it wide.
In the end neither side could find the spark to really bring the game to life, allowing it to fizzle out harmlessly to earn a point each.