Match-day 8 saw Freiburg visit Leipzig, playing in the same stadium and city that Germany would end their European qualifying campaign two weeks later. It was the game of the week of “die englische Woche” and it did not disappoint. The main advantage of this fact being that the game was played on Thursday, meaning all the other games had been played and there was no waiting around to see how other results would affect Freiburg’s standing. Going into this game Bochum were top of the table with seventeen points and Freiburg were in second with sixteen. Both teams went into their games on the back of a draw, the previous weekend Freiburg drew 2-2 at home with Bielefeld and Bochum 1-1 with Fortuna Düsseldorf. As luck had it Bochum continued their run of draws, racking up their third in a row, meaning if Freiburg beat Leipzig they would go top of the table for the international break. It was all so perfect, but it didn’t work out that way.
A trip to Leipzig was always going to be a difficult game, the most expensive team in the league against the youngest. It would have been extremely nice to come away with all three points and to spend the international break at the top of the table, but it would be wrong to be unhappy with only getting a point. It is a terrific result, they were never going to be able to continue playing with the same energy and tempo they did in the first half. Keeping that up would have been impossible and would only have led to making even more mistakes. I don’t like having to play for a draw but anything else would have been reckless.
It was a classic game of two halves, the first belonged to Freiburg and based solely on that, they deserved the three points. They played Leipzig at their own game, pressing them constantly, winning the ball back quickly, being extremely offensively minded. They turned in a great performance for the first 45 minutes with Nils Petersen scoring his goal in the 29th minute. It was a classic Petersen goal, originating from a wonderfully precise pass from Christian Günter to Petersen himself who laid it off for Guede. He in turn passed to Phillipp who spots Petersen in plenty of space in the left hand side of the box. Petersen stays cool as always and puts it past the keeper. Leipzig got caught out, they only had two men back, the rest were on their way but couldn’t get their in time. No doubt being run ragged for the past 20 odd minutes had something to do with that.
21 games played for Nils Petersen and 20 goals scored. He is in the words of the commentator, the Robert Lewandowksi of the 2.Bundesliga. I don’t care for such comparisons, not because I don’t like Lewandowksi, I do like him very much and I consider the comparison a great honour to be bestowed upon Petersen. It’s just that Petersen is well, Petersen. I don’t need or want to compare him to anyone else. He’s not a bargain basement Lewandowski, he’s Nils Petersen.
He was outstanding in the first half, as was almost all of the team. Alexander Schwolow continued with his excellent performance from the Bielefeld game. There was a few moments when he looked a little shaky, but he was excellent for the most part making some very important saves and in the second half he is a large part of the reason they have a point to take home.
A bit of luck was involved getting that point I must admit, towards the end of the first half Leipzig had a goal ruled off-side when in all probability that decision was incorrect. I’m kind of glad in one way, not because that goal may have been the difference between getting a point or not but for Alexander Schwolow’s sake. It was not his finest hour. The corner was no problem, it was headed out, though straight to a Leipzig player who took a shot. Said shot took a deflection and hit the post. Schwolow was left grasping for the ball, desperately scrambling to get there before either of the Leipzig players did. He succeeds the first time but not the second. Not that it made any difference because the whistle had already gone. Schwolow is protesting for off-side or for a foul on him, anything to spare him the embarrassment of that being a goal I suppose. The replay makes it clear, it’s neither off-side nor a foul of any kind on Schwolow. The linesman however disagrees. I should feel lucky, it’s a decision that went in Freiburg’s favour, and I do feel a little lucky. But mostly I just feel wrong, how anyone could call that one wrong I have no idea.
As a result Freiburg went in at half-time 1-0 up, it was not to last. After being bossed around in their own stadium, Leipzig came out flying in the second half and wasted no time in showing Freiburg who was going to be in control for the second half. It took them just over one minute and twenty seconds to get their equaliser. There were two players with Davie Selkie and neither of them could prevent the pass from reaching him or prevent him from taking a shot. His one touch shot left Schwolow helpless, curling right round him, he didn’t see it till it was already heading past him.
The rest of the second half was a long one, Leipzig now had Freiburg on the run. They kept Schwolow busy with plenty of dangerous looking attempts, him making a particularly important save in the 63rd minute against Davie Selkie. From then on Freiburg didn’t get many more chances and most of the ones they did get were restricted to outside of the box. I was just glad when it was all over. There were quite a few nerve-shredding moments as Leipzig firmly asserted their control over the game and it stayed that way till the very end. Despite Leipzig’s ever increasing pressure Freiburg managed to hang on to their point and deservedly so, the wrongly ruled off-side goal notwithstanding.
Pictures and videos:
Pre-match show feature with Bosnian Freiburg defender Mensur Mujzda:
Pre-match interview with Christian Streich: