After a routine 2-0 victory over FSV Frankfurt the previous weekend on match-day 10 Freiburg visited their neighbours KSC. The game being made extra interesting for two reasons, firstly because of course they are both former teams of Jogi’s and secondly because there was another Baden-Württemberg derby that same weekend with Stuttgart visiting Hoffenheim. Funnily enough their game ended in a draw too and also featured a last minute equaliser. On the subject of local derbies the previous weekend KSC played their other neighbour 1.FC Heidenheim, they drew 1-1. A result which no doubt would have left them wanting something from this game even more. Not to mention the fact they were without a win in five games, including a humiliating 6-0 defeat to Eintracht Braunschweig and a 3-0 defeat to 1.FC Union Berlin. Their last victory came on MD4 against bottom of the table Duisburg, hardly a vote of confidence in their form. At the time it was only one of two victories to their name. Just one season after finishing in 3rd place KSC found themselves struggling in fourteenth place. And yet you wouldn’t have known it from the way they played against Freiburg. Whether it was determination not to extend their run without a win to six games or simply a matter of pride it worked for them. It may have been a game in which both goals came extremely late but it was once full of excitement. It was also a game which was very competitive, that’s probably not the best word for it but it’s the only one I can think of. Let me put it another way, it took precisely eleven seconds for the game to be stopped for the first free kick and there was many more after it.
In fact in the first few minutes of the game there were more fouls and free kicks than there were chances with both teams taking a little while to get going, KSC understandably a little cautious against going up the best attack in the league. Both teams were pretty evenly matched in the first five minutes but it was KSC who got the first chance, earning themselves a corner. It came to nothing, Peitz headed it over the bar and Schwolow didn’t need to do anything but watch it sail over. Schwolow was first called into action in the sixth minute but it wasn’t a real save after an absurdly optimistic shot from KSC’s Dimitri Nazarov. In the next few minutes KSC had a couple more attempts on goal, though none on target. Freiburg for their part were getting nowhere near their goal and KSC’s keeper Vollath playing in place of Dirk Orlishausen found himself with nothing to do.
The tussling and the midfield battle continued for the next several minutes, the first yellow card came in the 13th minute for KSC player Peitz after elbowing Karim Guede in the head and grabbing his neck on the way down. Less than a minute later Freiburg got their first real sniff of an opportunity with Mujdza sending a long pass downfield to Philipp who was waiting just outside the box. He couldn’t get on the end of it and it ended up being put out of play for a corner by a nervous looking Valentini. With usual corner taker and dead ball specialist Vincenzo Grifo on the bench Mike Frantz was the man tasked with taking it. The ball in was headed out easily by the defence where it was collected and battled for by a waiting Christian Günter. The resulting cross from Nicolas Höfler resulted in a little game of pinball in the box but it ultimately came to nothing.
The game continued in much the same pattern for the next few minutes, plenty of small fouls but nothing significant and no attempts on goal. That is until the 17th minute when Marc-Oliver Kempf rightly earned himself a yellow card for blatantly shoving a KSC player in the back right in front of the linesman. It wasn’t the smartest decision he made all day especially seeing as how it was his mistake to begin with. Put under pressure he went backwards with the intent of passing the ball to Schwolow or one of his fellow defenders but instead slipped and found himself in a foot race with his marker. When his marker got in front of him saw no option but to take him out, in order to prevent him from having a free run at goal. A price worth paying. The resulting free kick was no problem at all nor the shot afterwards which Schwolow watched go wide.
In the 20th minute Nils Petersen finally made some impact on the game with an impressive solo run down the left flank which unfortunately came to an end when he elbowed his marker in the back. Petersen got another chance just two minutes later with a cross in from the right but his marker prevented him from connecting with it.
For the next ten minutes the game started to flow a little better, at least there wasn’t a free kick every other minute anyway. Unfortunately the balance of play favoured KSC, they were the one who had a few chances. Admittedly most of them were off target and the few which were posed no significant difficulties for Schwolow, but at least they were getting through. Frantz almost broke through on the right but quickly found himself swarmed by three defenders. A short while later Frantz earned himself a yellow card for sliding in behind and taking out Nazarov. KSC got a few more chances in the final minutes of the first half, given the fact they were having a lot more success in this regard it wouldn’t have surprised me had they scored first. Freiburg scoring from open play seemed a little unlikely, no matter what they tried it just wouldn’t go. If they were going to score it was most likely going to be from a set play.
It was no surprise at the start of the second half to see Vincenzo Grifo being brought on for Christian Günter in an attempt to address the lack of creativity in midfield. Hopefully bringing Grifo into the game would increase the quality of the passes into the box and he could maybe go off on some of those marauding runs of his. Or more likely to score from a free kick because it didn’t seem like anybody not even Grifo was going to get through. They certainly didn’t waste any time in getting started, having two long range attempts on goal in the first two minutes after the restart. But neither of them were especially close, neither Guede’s nor Abrashi’s. Grifo got his first chance to have some effect on the game with a corner in the 48th minute, which unfortunately the KSC defence had no problem dealing with. Despite the presence of Grifo the game followed a pattern similar to that of the second half, lots of niggly little fouls and plenty of free kicks, with few real chances for both sides and a continuous battle for possession.
In the 58th minute Grifo went off one of those tricky little runs of his, getting between two defenders but the second of them manged to put enough pressure on him so that his pass into the box went over the bar. A short while later Freiburg made their second change of the game with Tim Kleindienst coming on for Karim Guede. Most of the attempts on goal for both sides were from outside the box, a pattern that continued in the second half. Most such shots posed on problem for either keeper but in the 60th minute Schwolow was called into action to react to a troubling shot from Nazarov. Luckily Schwolow was able to just tip it out for a corner. A corner which resulted in a goal kick for Freiburg, deserved or not I don’t know, there was a lot of pushing and shoving in the box from both sides.
The next few minutes continued in the same fashion as the rest of the game, the only exception being a little bit of luck for KSC which saw Erwin Hoffer find some space in the box. His shot however went straight towards Schwolow who collected it easily. 70 minutes in Streich made his third and final change with Lucas Hufnagel replacing Maximilian Philipp, perhaps in the hope he could repeat his feat against Bielefeld and get another all important goal. He came on just as KSC were about to take a free kick which was harmlessly headed out for a corner. The resulting corner however provided plenty of danger, whilst Schwolow managed to push away Peitz’s header he couldn’t get a grip on it, luckily for him the follow up shot went just wide.
With both teams proving to be matched in every regard it seemed more and more likely the game would end in a 0-0 draw, had it done so it would have been a fair result. Neither team had really done enough to win it. There were few events of note in the next few minutes but one which has to get a mention is Schwolow in the 70th minute coming out of his box and clearing the ball Neuer style. Not quite as adventurous as Neuer often is but still an impressive moment for him.
Earlier in the game Freiburg brought on their Georgian joker Lucas Hufangel. Well as it turns out KSC had one to match in the form of Russian Vadim Manzon who in the 85th minute replaced Erwin Hoffer. For the next few minutes Schwolow was on full alert. He dealt with the header from the free kick with no problems, tipping it over the bar for a corner. From this point you would assume both teams were playing for the draw, neither of them seeming like they were going to take any major risks. Manzon himself got a shot on goal just a few minutes after coming on but like so many of the others it was off target, unluckily only because it took a deflection which meant a corner and Schwolow being called into action again. It was punched out by Schwolow but it didn’t matter, after stopping the corner from being taken the first time and warning the players the referee blew his whistle afterwards because of more such antics.
As it turned out it was a corner which created the chance for Freiburg’s goal, that and KSC being a little over cautious. In the 88th minute one of their defenders chose to head out Nicolas Höfler’s very harmless cross, it went out for a corner to be taken by none other than Vincenzo Grifo and then headed home by Nils Petersen. A goal which wasn’t really deserved but when all is said and done that doesn’t matter. It’s a goal which had it been the winner would have seen Freiburg go back to the top of the table. That is if Vadim Manzon didn’t have other ideas. The happiness lasted just over a minute. Despite there being just two minutes of extra time to hold out for and having all but two men back in their own half to defend Freiburg still ended up conceding a late equaliser. In all fairness it was nothing less than KSC deserved but that doesn’t stop me from feeling cheated. At least the draw extended their unbeaten run to seven games which at this point was the longest streak in the league.
Only getting a point from the game meant Freiburg gave up the top spot to Bochum who routed Greuther Fürth 5-0. They went top on goal difference with both teams having 21 points but Bochum having the slightly better goal difference. I could at least take comfort in the fact St Pauli lost to Sandhausen meaning there was a three point gap between them and Freiburg. Though even if they did win Freiburg would remain in second place with a plus ten goal difference compared to their three.
Post-match interviews with Alexander Schwolow, Nils Petersen & Christian Streich:
Pictures from Freiburg’s game: