The expectations of 1. FC Köln ahead of the away game at SC Freiburg were realistically low. On the one hand, because the sports club has deservedly acquired the reputation of a top Bundesliga team this season. On the other hand, because coach Steffen Baumgart’s team has reached and exceeded the limits of their strength reserves in the league and conference league in recent weeks due to major personnel problems.
So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that FC had to pay tribute to their recent hardships on Sunday evening at their first appearance in Freiburg’s Europa Park Stadium and three days after the European Cup defeat against Nice at 0: 2 (0: 0) the third away defeat in had to accept the consequences.
SC Freiburg exchanges almost the entire starting eleven
With one exception, Baumgart’s starting eleven looked as expected and as they did last time in the Bundesliga against Hoffenheim (1-1). Only Timo Hübers was missing. After the 2-2 draw against Nice on Thursday, the defense chief was simply too exhausted, as Baumgart explained. Luca Kilian and Nikola Soldo therefore formed the central defence. Steffen Baumgart didn’t have many alternatives anyway, the coach can be happy that with Jan Thielmann, Jeff Chabot and Mathias Olesen three convalescents are halfway operational again.
Freiburg coach Christian Streich, on the other hand, could afford the luxury of resting his entire starting XI in the Europa League on Thursday, with the exception of captain Christian Günter. The 57-year-old rotated back to ten positions against FC.
1. FC Köln just missed the 1-0 before the break
The favorite from Breisgau also got off to a great start. After Union Berlin’s 5-0 loss in Leverkusen, they were second in the table. Ondrej Duda had to block Günter’s shot (1st) and Marvin Schwäbe used his fists against Vincenzo Grifo for the first time (3rd). The FC keeper also passed his next tests with distinction. First he fished an attempt from Ritsu Doan out of the corner and then quickly repelled Michael Gregoritsch’s follow-up shot (15′).
That was good for FC, who found it difficult to get going and only had a chance through Florian Kainz. SC goalkeeper Mark Flekken hung up for the FC captain, but then saved the Austrian’s shot.
The most conspicuous Cologne player next to Schwäbe was by far Steffen Baumgart. The FC coach’s whistles could be heard from the stands in the relatively quiet Europa Park stadium. The shrill sounds kept his crew alert and focused. So FC, who had been invisible offensively until then, even had two good chances just before the break whistle.
After Steffen Tigges had extended a Kainz corner kick well and sharply, Ellyes Skhiri just missed making it 1-0 at the far post (41st). A minute later, the Tunisian was back in the spotlight. Linton Maina had finally fueled up and served Skhiri, who was aiming too high from five yards.
SC Freiburg comes out of the half-time break well
With the 0:0 at the break, FC had fulfilled all expectations, because such a result was not to be expected due to the conditions. And it didn’t stop there. As in the first half, Freiburg came out of the dressing room with a lot of steam and initially constricted FC for five minutes in their half.
The leadership of the sports club fell from a counterattack. Steffen Tigges, in a good position in the opposing penalty area, passed the ball far too easily, which quickly came to Michael Gregoritsch via Nicolas Höfler. the Austrian ran towards the two Cologne central defenders, who lost sight of their bearings and Wooyeong Jeong.
The South Korean ran a few meters and sunk the ball into the Cologne goal with the help of the right inside post to make it 1-0. “We get the 0:1 from a counterattack. Our remaining defense was not right. We’ve done better than that,” criticized Baumgart.
1. FC Köln almost equalizes against Freiburg
But his team could have responded immediately. The unsteady Flekken shot Tigges, who bounced the ball to Linton Maina, who had every chance. But it wasn’t the winger’s day, who hesitated at first, then had no idea how to finish and finally shot Flekken (60′).
The missed compensation took revenge only a short time later. After a quick throw-in by Grifo, Günter was allowed to cross unhindered. Gregoritsch was completely free in the penalty area between Luca Kilian and Kristian Pedersen and headed the ball into the net for Schwäbe (64′). Freiburg had exploited the weaknesses of Cologne.
“The goals conceded were far too cheap,” said Thomas Kessler. The sporting director of FC was not impressed by the performance of the Cologne team and, like Steffen Baumgart, did not want to use the lack of freshness as an excuse: “We evaluate the performance and it was not good. The team usually shows a different mentality at the back.”
“Freiburg is one of the best teams we have at the moment,” Steffen Baumgart said before the game. When looking at the table after the 13th matchday of the Bundesliga, nobody could disagree. Freiburg are second, while FC, in 12th place, must keep their eyes on their goal of staying up ahead of Wednesday’s derby against Leverkusen.