Missing defender Çağlar Söyüncü and striker Florian Niederlechner due to suspension and injury, SC Freiburg face Domenico Tedesco’s FC Schalke 04. Reinvented under the talented coach, the team from Gelsenkirchen came into Saturday’s fixture on unbeaten form dating back to 29 September. Frustrated by their draw against Wolfsburg, Tedesco is looking to get his side to rewrite the wrongs of their previous performance. Christian Streich currently finds his side struggling in the Bundesliga. Sitting in 15th with one game won and the highest amount of goals conceded, it’s clear that Freiburg were in need of a victory.
The scene was set at the Schwarzwald-Stadion. With the usual atmosphere, the home side set out hoping they could set out searching for three points. Evenly matched in the initial stages, both sides looking to establish their style of play. Advantage started to lean towards Freiburg after they gained a number of attacking opportunities, primarily via corners. A positive start for the home side provided an opportunity to set the tone of the game. Acknowledging Freiburg’s advantage building up, Schalke set out to open the game and apply pressure on the home side. Despite the build-up of pressure, Freiburg were able to work their way around it and continue the establishment of their attacking play. Suppressing Schalke’s attack, the hosts went on the front foot in taking shots and creating chances.
Despite Freiburg’s attacking opportunities, they were unable to register a shot on target in the opening 30 minutes. The first dangerous opportunity of the game fell to Yevhen Konoplyanka, who hit the post after receiving the ball from Franco Di Santo. Looking to respond, Freiburg also found the woodwork when Nils Petersen’s effort struck the crossbar. This was building up to be an end to end affair. An uptick in attacking opportunities for both sides, it was surely going to produce some results. Both keepers were called into action as time passed, with Naldo and Mike Franz having shots from range. Looking to seize on this end to end affair, Bartosz Kaputska had a great opportunity to score for the home side. Working the outside of the box, Kaputska hit the ball with a scintillating strike that was curling towards his target. Yet again, the woodwork made the difference. Three times the ball has hit the woodwork, both sides were unlucky with their attacking play. As half time approached, Freiburg and Schalke looked to be on the brink of making a breakthrough. A total of 13 shots were launched in the first half, nine from Freiburg. It was a story of the woodwork in the first 45 minutes. Both Christian Streich and Tedesco would hope the second half spells goals of their sides.
Hoping to continue their positive display in the first half, Freiburg were hungry to score. Opportunities available, it was the woodwork that has got the better of both sides. The star of the second half spelled a positive situation for the away side. Gaining possession, Schalke hoped to make the most of the ball going forward. A golden chance fell to Freiburg when Nils Petersen received the ball, leaving Schalke’s defenders in his wake. One on one with Ralf Fährmann, Petersen had a chance to put Freiburg on top. Unfortunately for Streich’s side, it was Schalke’s fine keeper who came out on top.
Freiburg soon looked to pressure and close down Schalke, resulting attacking avenues being closed off and the ability to disposes the opposing side. It was working for the home side but they were yet to turn this into goals. Starting to open space in the attacking areas, the away side were progressing further into the second half. A close opportunity came when American youngster Weston McKennie found space down the right, driving the ball towards Freiburg’s box. Crossing towards Konoplyanaka, the Ukrainian was inches away from connecting with the ball. This game was full everything apart from the all-important goals.
Both sides went on searching for a breakthrough. That breakthrough fell to Schalke in the 62nd minute when Daniel Caligiuri’s effort from outside the box struck Christian Günter on its way into the back of the net. Fooled by the misdirection, there was nothing Alexander Schwolow could do. Down but not out, Freiburg fought on to try bring it level. As time progressed Schalke upped the pressure and energy being applied on Freiburg. Forcing the home side into errors, Schalke had the opportunity to seize on the ball and increase their advantage. Making all the noise, Schalke supporters were happy with their side’s performance so far. Questions were arising for Freiburg, who was going to get their breakthrough? Known for lacking goals and creativity this season, Christian Streich’s men had to go hunting. With 10 minutes of the game remaining, the home side’s opportunity to make a breakthrough was fading away. As the game got towards the final whistle, the Schalke supporters sung their team to victory. A game of opportunities and making the most of them fell into the favour of Tedesco and Schalke.
Second Half – The second half saw Schalke take the upper hand in their display against Freiburg. After a hard-fought first half, the away side took advantage and came away with three points after a deflected goal from Caligiuri.
Daniel Caligiuri (1 shot, 1 game-winning goal, 84 touches, 3 clearances, 2 tackles)
- Freiburg: 51%
- Schalke: 49%
- Freiburg: 13
- Schalke: 8
- Freiburg: 9
- Schalke: 8
Talking Points Freiburg
- Performance – A tale of two halves. Freiburg’s performance against Schalke varied as time went on. The first half signalled positivity for Freiburg as they were creating opportunities and taking the advantage against Schalke. Nine shots and six chances created appeared to put the home side in a position to challenge for the three points. Unfortunately the second half was a different story for Freiburg. As time progressed so did the home sides lack of opportunities. Limited to three shots and two chances created, it was a familiar story in the Black Forest.
- Injury and Suspension – The absence of Niederlechner and Söyüncü was clearly felt by Freiburg. Losing their primary attacking weapon didn’t look to be too much of a problem in the first half, but in the second half he was obvious;y missed. Lacking the extra initiative going forward resulted in Freiburg’s limited ability in the second half. At the back, Freiburg were fairly solid throughout the game. However, the loss of their talented Turkish could be seen. Freiburg will be needing to get back to full strength soon.
- Not Enough – Yet again it wasn’t enough for Freiburg. This is becoming a familiar story for the club that has only won one game in 11 played. Christian Streich will be hoping he can get his team out of this difficult period.
Talking Points Schalke
- Tedesco – It’s becoming clear that Tedesco has his team in order. A re-energised and revitalised Schalke is starting to climb the table, and at the end of the day was tied for fourth on 20 points with archrivals Borussia Dortmund. It’s looking like hiring Tedesco was a risk worth taking.
- Attack – Schalke’s attack came on in leaps and bounds against Freiburg. A competitive outing in the first half set up the away side to come away with the three points. The second half spelled a period of a develop dominance for Schalke who were rewarded with a goal in the 62nd It wasn’t a perfect attacking performance, they will be hoping they are more clinical in the future, but it was enough to get them the win.
- Supporters – From start to the end, Schalke’s supporters were heard at the Schwarzwald-Stadion. Known for their impressive support, the team from Gelsenkirchen spurred onto victory. Their fans will be making the trip home full of smiles and joy.
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