SC Freiburg 1 – 2 Hamburger SV: Ilicevic makes the difference in a tight match

Frank Arnesen is the third official head coach who has taken place on the HSV bench this season. With the Dane in charge Hamburg were third time lucky.

Hamburg presented their new head coach Torsten Fink to the public this Thursday, making Arnesen’s stint as head coach a rather short-lived experience. The former Chelsea man had a similar experience when he was the sporting director for PSV Eindhoven in 1991.  Due to Bobby Robson being sick Arnesen had to take over the team for six matches, winning all of them with Huub Stevens at his side. Hamburg were coming to one of their favorite away venues, having won 4 matches, and drawn five of the 12 away matches played against Freiburg.  Arnesen and Cardoso could pick from a full squad, leaving the likes of Per Ciljan Skjellbred and Marcus Berg in Hamburg.

Marcus Sorg introduced new signing Andreas Hinkel at right back, hoping that the former Celtic and Stuttgart player would be the tonic that Freiburg’s leaking defense needed.


SC Freiburg: Baumann – Hinkel(Nicu 83′), Krmas, Barth, Bastians – Schuster, Flum – Putsila(Reisinger 74′), Makiadi, Abdessadki(Dembélé 76′) – Cissé

Hamburger SV: Drobny – Westermann, Bruma, Rajkovic, Aogo – Kacar, Tesche – Lam(Ilicevic 66′), Son(Jansen 87′), Töre – Petric(Guerrero 75′)

First half: Freiburg fail to convert their chances

The Breisgau Brazilians went into the match with their version of the 4-2-3-1, with Putsila being the more defensive player of the double six. Hamburg lined up with the same 4-2-3-1 formation, with Petric often dropping deep when Freiburg were attacking, while Töre and Son came forward at great pace when Hamburg attacked. From a functional perspective, it was a 4-5-1 in defense and 4-3-3 in attack.

It was Mladen Petric who created the first chance of the game, when the Croatian international decided to go for broke with a shot from the 30 meters. Petrics’ extremely well hit shot smashed into the bar, leaving Freiburg keeper Oliver Baumann and the rest of the Dreisamstadion relieved. Freiburg striker Papiss Demba Cissé got the ball out of play in the end, giving Hamburg a corner kick. Töre’s corner kick landed on the head of Jeffrey Bruma, whose well placed header was saved by Baumann. But, the 19-year-old Wunderkind Heung-Min Son was there to put the ball safely into the net, giving Hamburg the lead after 12 minutes.

Freiburg sprung into life 10 minutes after The Dinosaur of the league had taken the lead. A cross from Hinkel was not cleared far enough away by Bruma, and Heiko Westermann failed to clear the ball, leaving Papiss Demba Cisse with an open goal. The Senegalese striker missed the goal by a couple of inches with a technically difficult bicycle kick.

Freiburg had their best phase of this match between the 26th and 32rd minute, producing  total of four clear-cut chances. But, Abdessadki, Makiadi and Cissé all failed to convert those big chances. Both Heiko Westermann and Jeffrey Bruma could have both done better during Freiburg’s attacking spell, while Jaroslav Drobny managed to redeem himself for some of his poor performances earlier this season with three very good saves.  The teams went into the dressing rooms with Hamburg in the lead.

Second half: Arnesen’s substitution makes the difference

Freiburg continued where they had let off in the first half, and a well placed pass behind the HSV defense was tucked away by Papiss Demba Cissé in the 47th minute, leveling the score.

Hamburg continued to look for counter attacks while Freiburg failed to keep up the pressure after their goal. Makiadi had a great chance in the 65th minute after he was played through on goal by Cissé, but failed to hit the target from 8 meters out. The replay showed that the midfielder was offside, but this remained the only questionable call by Deniz Aytekin who otherwise had a good game at the Dreisamstadion.

Arnesen was the first coach to roll the dice, and brought on Ivo Ilicevic for the anonymous Zhi Gin Lam. The Croat was struggling with an abductors problem all week, but this gamble by Arnesen paid off in the end.

Hamburg got the counter attack the Red Shorts had been waiting for in the 73rd minute, a quick pass up front found Gökhan Töre on the right hand side of the pitch. The former Chelsea player ran with the ball across the pitch waiting for the support to arrive. Töre played a lovely one-two with Ilicevic, and put the Croat through on goal. The former Kaiserslautern man went for power instead of precision from five meters, and the ball smashed into the net, giving Hamburg the 2-1 lead.

Freiburg coach Marcus Sorg reacted to Hamburg’s lead by bringing Dembélé and Stefan Reisinger, turning Freiburg’s system into a 4-3-3 formation. It was, however, Hamburg defender Jeffrey Bruma who almost gave away another goal: Bruma tried to control the ball in the area, when Cissé snapped the ball away from under his feet. Instead of following Cissé, trying to get him to go down to the touch-line, Bruma decided to push over the quick striker and gave away a penalty. Bruma’s decision making in this situation can be described as horrific, but Papiss Demba Cissé did not manage to punish the Dutchman with his penalty. The striker who up to this point had one of his signature performances, was a little too clever for his own good, trying to place the ball into the top right corner, but instead sending the ball skywards ultimately giving away 1 point that Freiburg desperately needed.

Conclusion: HSV effective, Freiburg in for a tough ride

Freiburg are at this stage one of the candidates to go down. The team’s lack of goalscorers continues to haunt them. Last season they were helped out by a strong Papiss Demba Cissé who scored more than half of their goals. Continuing to bet on one man to fix all your problems is not going to work out for the Breisgau Brazilians in the end. Furthermore, their lack of defensive awareness at important stages in the match is still something Marcus Sorg has to work on.

Hamburgon the other hand got away with all three points, maybe for the first time also having lady luck on their side. The team still displayed a lot of instability in defense, especially Jeffrey Bruma, who needs to work on his composure. A few elements of Hamburg’s game are slowly falling into place though. Especially the way the team switches from defense to attack has been improved. Torsten Fink will have the pleasure of coaching a group of players that is more confident than it was a few weeks ago. And with Wolfsburg and Kaiserslautern coming up as the next two opponents, Fink will need his players to come through for him right away.

Man of the match:

Papiss Demba Cissé was the biggest presence on the pitch today. Always available, involved in every aspect of the game. Still creating most of the danger for Freiburg up top, either as the finisher or the provider. His penalty miss was ultimately what gave away one point for Freiburg. If Freiburg loses him in the next transfer window, the team will be in more trouble than it already is.

I was asked to comment on HSV signing of Torsten Fink by Deutsche Welle earlier this week, you can read the article here.

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Niklas Wildhagen

Niklas is a 33-year-old football writer and podcaster who has been following the Bundesliga and German football since the early 90s. You can follow him on Twitter, @normusings, and listen to his opinions on @TalkingFussball.

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