I would say it’s been one of those days but that’s not strictly accurate, technically its been two days. Though it feels like a lot longer. Time seems to be moving very slowly right now. It sure doesn’t feel like only two days have passed since Monday. I knew it was too good to be true, no way was that going to last. From high to low and back again. I spent most of Tuesday asleep and part of Wednesday went the same way, not because I was tired exactly. More because there was all this time to fill and I didn’t know what to do with it. Everything just feels like such an effort and getting out of bed felt no different, it was easier to just do nothing. I get the feeling hiding from everything is the best option. Monday felt like a good day but it’s like I’m paying the price for it now. Or maybe I just feel that way because of all the changes. Now I definitely feel like the universe is working against me. Last minute changes are never any good but especially not when they’re as big as this. I have no clue what’s going on and neither does anyone else. The only thing I know for sure is there’s going to be many more sleepless nights because of this. Not that it really matters, I’m sure that would happen anyway. Routine can be comforting and at the moment it’s one of the few sources of security I have. Yet at the same time it can feel relentless. Knowing you have to get up day after day and do all of this again. Sometimes it’s more suffocating than comforting. Late at night is the only time I feel anything approaching fine and even then it’s just an illusion. I think I only feel that way because it’s late, there’s no-one around, there’s no pressure on me and I don’t have to pretend for anyone or anything. The minute I’m reminded of reality everything comes crashing down and it all falls apart. Left in my own little world then I’m fine, but you can’t do that forever.
I used to think days like this are just one day, you can get through them because you know it comes to an end, that not all days are like this. But when they all feel this way or when there’s more bad days than good ones, then I don’t know what to tell myself. Why would you want to keep waking up when this is all you have to look forward to? Sure there are good things but not enough of them. And one day won’t they run out? Or maybe they won’t be enough. The books I’m reading probably aren’t helping, they’re full of deaths, suicides and people going missing. Perhaps not the best thing to be reading with the mood I’m in. But reading happy stuff (not that I own anything like that) would just make me feel worse. So I find myself right back where I started. I don’t know what I’m doing or why. And I have no idea what to do with the rest of the day. It feels wrong to go back to bed, again. Yet none of the other options seem particularly appealing either. All I’ve done is gotten up and had breakfast and I feel like I’m done already. If I make myself stay awake a few hours from now I’ll feel somewhat invincible and I’ll want to do everything, I might even actually write something. And as always the crash will follow it. I don’t know what the right thing to do is, or if there’s even a right thing. I guess you just have to keep on bumbling through it, knowing why isn’t so important as just keeping at it is. I know from getting out of the habit with writing that you take a break and it proves very difficult to get back into the habit.
And on the subject of habits, the calendars. From the Freiburg calendar is defender Georg Niedermeier and he’s joined by Freiburg’s top scorer Maximilian Philipp. I have no pictures of the former and it’s not because there are none, I just don’t like him. They signed him on a free transfer from VfB Stuttgart, and it’s not just where he came from which bothers me. It’s the fact he was part of a Stuttgart defence which conceded 75 goals. But they signed him so they must see something in him doesn’t mean I have to like him though. On the other hand I have plenty of pictures of Max, you never get enough good pictures of him. I can’t wait till he’s healthy again and I can add some more pictures to my collection, and more importantly he can add some more goals to his. And from the Dortmund calendar is midfield maestro Shinji Kagawa who despite his bit part status so far this season I hope stays at Dortmund. Joining him is Turkish winger Emre Mor who scored his first goal for Dortmund in his first league apperance against Darmstadt, scoring the final goal in a 6-0 thrashing:
The previous weekend Freiburg secured promotion when they defeated Paderborn 2-1 and with the 2- 0 win over Heidenheim they sealed their position in first place. They not only sealed their return to the Bundesliga but did so in pole position, ahead of RB Leipzig. It was perfect in a sense, not least because the scorer of both goals was former Heidenheim player Florian Niederlechner. The goals were made even more perfect by the fact they were both made and scored by two jokers, Lucas Hufnagel and of course Niederlechner. Not a great game to watch by any measure but that doesn’t matter, not when what happened afterwards was so much fun.
RB Leipzig confirmed their inevitable promotion with a 2-0 defeat of KSC, being gifted a second goal after an error by KSC’s keeper. If 1.FCN hadn’t screwed up they could have taken advantage of RBL’s poor run of results in recent weeks, it could be them in second place. But they didn’t and they have to content themselves with third place which is guaranteed at least since they have an eight point lead on St Pauli. With one match-day to go everything is decided at the top of the table, all but one thing that is. Freiburg have won the league, they’re the best team offensive wise in the league and have the best home and away record. Yet there’s one thing they don’t have, it’s not Nils Petersen who’s the current league top-scorer because he didn’t score against Heidenheim and Simon Terrode did against Braunschweig. In order to be crowned top-scorer Petersen needs to score two goals against Union Berlin and for Terrode not to score against Heidenheim. Fingers crossed for Petersen, it’s already been a great season but him being crowned top scorer would make it just that little bit more perfect.
Meanwhile at the foot of the table things went from bad to worse for Paderborn after they lost 1-0 to 1860 München and Duisburg managed to salvage a point at Sandhausen. Going into the final day of the season Paderborn have the difficult task of getting at least a point from third placed 1.FCN, I suppose they can take some hope from the fact their opponents need absolutely nothing from the game. As they can from the fact Frankfurt who they need to lose face 1860. I would put good money on them beating Frankfurt. The situation at the foot of the table offers no salvation for any of the bottom three. The best all of them can hope for is the play-off place. None of them can achieve automatic safety, not realistically. In theory Duisburg could but only in theory, because they would have to not only beat RB Leipzig but score seven goals against them whilst conceding none and counting on Fortuna Düsseldorf to lose to Eintracht Braunschweig. Paderborn, Frankfurt and Duisburg can all win yet still not be safe. If that were to happen the table would stay exactly as it is, with Paderborn in 18th, Frankfurt in 17th and Duisburg in 16th.
Pictures and GIFs from Freiburg’s game:
A win for Freiburg would see them confirm their return to the Bundesliga. All that stood between them and their return was 17th placed Paderborn. I wrongly though they wouldn’t pose any significant problems, well I was certainly wrong about that. They more than put up a fight and came close to doing to Freiburg what Gladbach did to Bayern on Saturday, to making them wait for their celebrations. Freiburg needed a little bit of luck but they got there in the end, they may have gotten lucky in this game but luck alone didn’t get them this far. Luck didn’t score that all important first goal or so many of the others they’ve scored this season. It’s kind of fitting in a way that Freiburg confirm their promotion with a win against Paderborn, given that the last time they played they were both Bundesliga teams. At the moment their fates could not be more diametrically opposed with Freiburg returning to the top flight and Paderborn struggling to just stay in the second tier. Despite their very different situations Paderborn made life very difficult for Freiburg and it was not nearly as easy as their last encounter in which they won 4-1 and Nils Petersen scored a hat-trick.
It doesn’t matter that it didn’t go as well as the first encounter. Nor does it matter Paderborn had the better chances in the first half. Well truth is for the first fifteen minutes they had the only chances, because with their defensive discipline they managed to prevent the best offense in the league from even getting a shot on target. There was however little to be worried about, Paderborn couldn’t hold out forever and their discipline was no match for individual quality. There’s no point having all those chances if you’re not going to take them and they didn’t. All that work and they have nothing to show for it. The goal they did get only came about because of an error on Schwolow’s part. As for Freiburg it took until the 23rd minute before they got a decent scoring opportunity and unsurprisingly it was Petersen who got the chance. His shot was nicely hit but unfortunately just off target. They didn’t get many more chances in the remainder of the first half, the one good chance they did get was Philipp on the volley just before the end of the first half. Despite taking a deflection it still proved a little tricky for the keeper but he managed to deal with it. A minute or so later Günter took aim from long range, it wasn’t far off and with them struggling for opportunities then I guess he thought why not.
All in all the first half was most disappointing for Freiburg but the didn’t take long to fix that in the second half. It took just 17 seconds for Mike Frantz to score the opening goal. Whatever the missing piece was, whatever they needed to change or do differently they wasted no time in working it out and putting it into practice. A strong pass from Maximilian Philipp, Frantz took advantage of the slowness of the Paderborn defenders and just like that goal, 1-0 to Freiburg. Evidently their heads were still back in the dressing room. A fact made more apparent when Freiburg scored again just a few minutes later. Though that time they did get a little bit of luck. Paderborn once again caught napping, a defensive error which Petersen was all too keen to take advantage of. He did so and then chipped it over the keeper for what you have to say is a cheeky little goal, I think in fact it may be one of my favourites of the season and not just because it’s the goal which confirmed their return to the Bundesliga, Though you have to admit it’s very fitting that Petersen scored the goal. Even more fitting because he scored last time against Paderborn too, though that time they lost so it’s like putting things right. It’s all too perfect, he scored Freiburg’s last goal in the Bundesliga before relegation and he scores the goal to send them back there: No doubt feeling a lot more confident having a 2-0 lead behind them Freiburg looked a lot sharper in the second half and in the 51st minute Grifo came close to making it three. Paderborn however weren’t given up and they were gifted a goal in the 56th minute when Schwolow mishit the throw-in from Stenzel. Moritz Stoppelkamp was there to take full advantage and he did so, putting the ball past a helpless Schwolow. Unsurprisingly it made Paderborn think they had a chance of getting back into the game. They got an opportunity to equalise just a few minutes later, this time however Schwolow was there and took care of it with no problem. The next chance however was not so easy to deal with and in fact Schwolow could do nothing, the shot from Stoppelkamp hit the underside of the bar and left him standing there helpless. I wasn’t too worried in the first half about Freiburg being able to break though the defence but I have to admit to being a little concerned in the second half, Paderborn equalizing would have been a huge disappointment. Not as much as last time given that it’s a very different situation but still it would not have been cool.
The final twenty minutes were very nervy indeed, especially when Schwolow accidentally punched a Paderborn player in the head, no way was it a penalty but it was a very few nervous minutes whilst he was still on the floor anyway. Even more nerve-wracking was the fact the header in question rattled off the underside of the crossbar. Two shots both off the underside of the crossbar, you got the feeling Freiburg’s luck might run out before the game was over. Especially seeing as how they didn’t look threatening enough to score a third and put the game beyond doubt. Other than how uncomfortable the last 15 minutes of the game was the only thing to put a damper on the impending celebrations was Pascal Stenzel’s double yellow and subsequent red card. Understandably things got a little heated in the final few minutes of the game, when Grifo ended up being upended some of the Paderborn players got impatient and started a shoving match. The stakes for them could not be higher, Freiburg were hanging on for their return to the Bundesliga, but those three points for Freiburg would send Paderborn to 18th place, the foot of the table where up till now Duisburg had lived.
A whole five minutes of extra time was a nightmare to sit through, even more so when Paderborn were gifted an opportunity to get level with a free-kick right on the edge of the box. A free-kick I’m happy to say was blasted over the bar by Stoppelkamp. The corner in the third minute of extra time got them no closer, it being headed out immediately, safety first. The final two minutes were every bit as heated as the previous few had been, Christian Streich being his usual hot headed self. He has that in common with Jogi and Thomas Tuchel, he can be relied upon to provide great GIF material:
It was a painful final two minutes, waiting for the inevitable. Unlike last season it’s a good thing you were waiting for but it only makes it a little easier. Seeing the rest of the squad standing on the touchline waiting for the final whistle made it even harder. And then finally what we’ve spent all season waiting for, party time. Revenge over Paderborn again, another three points for Freiburg and another goal for Petersen in his quest to once again be the 2.B top-scorer:
I was wrong in expecting Paderborn not to provide a difficult challenge but I was right about one thing on MD32, Arminia Bielefeld did manage to hold RB Leipzig to a draw meaning they have to wait for confirmation of their promotion status. Though it’s a dead cert anyway thanks to Nürnberg screwing up on Saturday against Eintracht Braunschweig:
RB Leipzig v Arminia Bielefeld MD32 highlights
Pictures from the game:
Three goals and three points but only one man of the hour. Monday night it was Marc-Oliver Kempf who came to Freiburg’s rescue but Friday evening was all about Vincenzo Grifo. He played a part in all three of Freiburg’s goals, scoring the first himself from another wonderfully taken free-kick, assisting the second via another free-kick and finally winning the penalty which of course Nils Petersen slotted home. Because the night wouldn’t be perfect without Petersen on the score-sheet too. It wasn’t all Grifo did however, in the second half he came close to making it three as well as almost setting up Petersen to score. All in all it was a most perfect evening and had the results gone the right way on Saturday it could have been a perfect weekend. Because if 1.FCN had lost to Union Berlin then it would have confirmed Freiburg’s return to the top flight. In a quirk of fate that almost happened but it was of course too good to be true. After being 2-0 down at half-time 1.FCN turned things round to win 6-2. Meaning the celebrations will have to wait, it’s unlikely anything can go wrong at this point but I don’t want to curse it.
Last time out Freiburg drew 1-1 against Duisburg and it was not a good day, they went into half-time 1-0 down, only managing to equalise a good twenty minutes later through Amir Abrashi. It was a game in which yellow cards were a much a feature as shots on goal, twelve in all which funnily enough is the amount of shots on goal each side had. Friday evening was a lot more fun and a much better day as far as the team’s performance were concerned. All three of goals may have come from set plays and Duisburg were set up very defensively but it was a still a fairly entertaining game to watch. Though I suppose knowing victory is one step closer to returning to the Bundesliga helps. As does goals like this:
Duisburg on the other hand face the prospect of returning to the third division. The other newly promoted team Bielefeld are hovering just above the relegation battle in 13th place but there’s a five point gap between them and Fortuna Düsseldorf and FSV Frankfurt. Their prospects of safety being further improved by an impressive 4-2 win over Greuther Fürth earlier today. As for the other relegated team Paderborn are still firmly entangled in the relegation battle, they are now the worst ever relegated team of all time. And the next few weeks offer them little prospect of salvation. On Friday they host none other than Freiburg, a tough task at any stage of the season but especially now. It’s not any easier for them on the final two days of the season, away to 1860 who are just below them in the table and then home to 1.FCN. Freiburg on the other hand finish their season with a home game against Heidenheim and then away to Union Berlin. I still feel sorry for Duisburg a little, having being handed the seemingly impossible task of facing RB Leipzig on the final day of the season. Just in case their fight to stay up wasn’t difficult enough. Speaking of the devil Leipzig don’t play until Monday night, visiting Kaiserslautern. Last time round Kaiserslautern won 2-0 so I suppose them winning isn’t impossible, I wouldn’t put any money on it though. I wouldn’t tempt fate that way. With Freiburg winning on Friday the gap is widened to four points but should Leipzig win tomorrow night then it’ll be reduced once more to just one:
I didn’t expect the trip to Eintracht Braunschweig to be an easy one but I underestimated just how difficult it would be. Sometimes things are just a little too perfect and the lead-up to this game is a perfect example of just how that’s true. It was just too good to be true, both RB Leipzig and 1.FCN losing in the same weekend. The stage was set perfectly for Freiburg to open up a three point gap on Leipzig. As things turned out they just have the one point gap. But to see it from another perspective I guess it’s not the worst time to drop points, after all Leipzig did too. So it could be worse. Freiburg have an excellent record against Eintracht Braunschweig apparently, they haven’t lost to them in quite some time, not since 1986 if the presenter on the pre-match show is to be believed. The reason that’s important is because in 1986 one Jogi Löw was playing for Freiburg, in fact he played in both games in the 1985/86 season against Braunschweig. Not only that but he scored the second goal in the home fixture which ended 2-2. The reverse of the fixture ended 2-0 in Braunschweig’s favour. It’s not just the trivia I got from the pre-match show, I also got these two pictures:
Well they still haven’t beaten Freiburg at least, but they came very close to doing so. Freiburg’s point was saved with the assistance of the referee in fact. Going into extra time the score was 2-1 to Braunschweig. Their coach wasn’t happy about the amount of extra time, nor about the fact they actually went over the three minutes by about 50 seconds. Had they not done so Freiburg wouldn’t have had time to take the corner and Marc-Oliver Kempf wouldn’t have scored the equalising goal. That’s three goals in two games for him now. They got lucky, I know. I’m just glad they got a point from it at least.
It certainly wasn’t a fun night, up until now they’ve had pretty good luck on Monday nights. But Braunschweig well and truly put a stop to that, it was no fun watching Freiburg get outclassed for the better part of ninety minutes. They dominated possession in the first half as has been their way this season, yet despite having 61% they only created one shot on goal. By comparison Braunschweig created six, four of which were on target. Niederlechner got a chance in the eighteenth minute right in front of goal but he couldn’t quite get there. Another frustrating moment came later in the first half when Grifo was perfectly placed yet he stepped aside for Frantz to take it, despite being closer than him. Frantz wasn’t quick enough and the chance went wasted, proof that sometimes being selfish is the better option. The past two games Freiburg have been the ones to start brightly and actually get on the score-sheet pretty early, but here it was Braunschweig who had the brighter start. Alexander Schwolow had a very busy night indeed. Somehow it was 0-0 at half-time, but it wasn’t due to lack of effort on Braunschweig’s part.
The start of the second half was not much better, Freiburg were restricted to one long range effort from Grifo, it was on target at least. Other than that it was all Braunschweig, if there were going to be goals they would be the first to score, that much was obvious. I just wish it hadn’t happened in such a way that Schwolow was partly at fault. Though Abrashi and Torrejon were at fault too, the former for underhitting the back-pass and the latter for not dealing with it properly. It’s lucky Schwolow’s ill-timed sliding tackle wasn’t too badly misjudged, the player was able to get away from him but had he not and Schwolow not got the ball then it would of course been a red card. It would have made a bad night even worse. Braunschweig were plenty dangerous by themselves from an attacking perspective, they most definitely did not need Freiburg gifting them chances that way. Their second goal came not long afterwards and Schwolow was helpless to do anything about it. At this point salvaging even a point seemed beyond Freiburg. They did manage to pull one back but it was more a quirk of fate than anything else. A long ball launched upfield by Höfler which Petersen managed to get on the end of, after heading it into the net he ended up clattering into the keeper. Somehow the ball went in and the goal stood. But getting a second seemed like a big ask, most likely impossible. They did however liven up towards the end of the game, in the last five minutes in particular. In the 85th minute Havard Nielsen was taken down in the box, he probably should have gotten a penalty. The ball was gone and contact was made but no penalty given. Nielsen may not have gotten a penalty but he did win the all important corner in extra time. Problem is they were already 20 seconds over the three minutes of extra time, the referee should have blown his whistle already for time. Yet he didn’t, a fact which understandably made Braunschweig’s coach furious. With this being the very last act of the game even Schwolow was up there, though of course his presence turned out to be of no consequence. Because it was Marc-Oliver Kempf who headed the ball home and saved Freiburg’s point. Everyone was celebrating, everyone but Christian Streich that is, he didn’t move one inch. He knew how lucky they were to get the point.
Before the game Christian Streich talked about having respect for Bielefeld and not underestimating them. His words were neither patronizing nor misplaced. After all Bielefeld drew 2-2 with Freiburg at the Schwarzwald Stadion and would have won 2-1 had it not been for a last minute goal by Lucas Hufnagel. They also drew 1-1 with Bochum and 2-2 with 1.FCN, not to mention only losing 1-0 to RB Leipzig. One thing is for certain Bielefeld are not an easy team to break down. Before this game they had only once conceded three goals in a game, when they lost 3-2 to Heidenheim. And they’d never conceded three in one half. They are usually a team which defends exceedingly well Up till this point they’d conceded in total 24 goals. By comparison Freiburg conceded 26, of course Freiburg were also outscoring everyone else to balance that out. Bielefeld on the other hand are masters of the draw, having racked up 13 of them in 24 games.
Given their obvious defensive focus it came as a surprise then that they got the first shot on goal, though it was off target. But Freiburg’s first goal was to set the pattern for the game. It was their first shot on goal, their first attack in fact. Petersen was on the bench so it wasn’t “ice cold Petersen” this time but Florian Niederlechner. Fittingly given the fact this was a homecoming of sorts for Schwolow he was the one who started the play. A long ball from him up-field, headed on by Grifo and then picked up by Niederlechner. Now he did get lucky because the ball took a slight deflection off a defender, but it was all skill when he put it past the keeper. This wasn’t a game which had a great deal of chances but what counts is Freiburg took the ones they got. It was a case of keeping up the pressure on Bielefeld and waiting for the cracks to show. The good start however was not to last with Bielefeld getting the equaliser through Christopher Nöthe in the 31st minute. A most curious goal, not because it was spectacular, more because it resembled Freiburg’s first in a sense. The only difference being the final move, Nöthe heading the ball home through Schwolow’s legs.
Freiburg however did not lose their heads and had the perfect reply just eight minutes later, the second goal being scored by Vincenzo Grifo. Their usually well organised defence was nowhere to be found, they had three players trying to close down Niederlechner but absolutely no-one in the vicinity of Grifo who if he wanted had all the time and space in the world to slot the ball home. Three minutes later Freiburg added to their woes and made it 3-1, the goalscorer this time being Mike Frantz with Amir Abrashi serving up the assist. I would say Bielefeld doesn’t deserve to be 3-1 down but it’s criminal to leave Abrashi with amount of space and to not close down Frantz. Overall them being down 3-1 seems a little harsh but based on the last ten minutes of the first half they most certainly deserve to be. All their confidence after getting the equaliser seems to have evaporated.
This wasn’t the most entertaining of games, but sometimes you don’t need entertaining, sometimes efficiency is more important and given Freiburg were to play Leipzig after this it’s obviously a high priority. The second half didn’t greatly differ from the first, the only difference being that Bielefeld managed for a while to be threatening but they didn’t get anything for their troubles. At the start of the half at least frustration set in for them, evident by the fact they picked up two yellow cards in as many minutes. A fact which led to Marc Torrejon needed to replaced by Immanuel Höhn. The third yellow of the game went strangely enough to Alexander Schwolow. Not for time wasting or an ill timed tackle, instead he got it for talking back to the referee. I’ve seen him get frustrated before but never behave that way. A short while later Niederlchener also got a yellow card, though I’m a little less clear what his was for. He handled the ball but only because he was being obstructed, a point he made very clear to the referee. Thus I’m not sure if it was for the handball or his subsequent behaviour the card was for. Not that it really matters, Freiburg’s lead was secure and despite Bielefeld looking dangerous for a while there was no real danger of them getting back into it. Any hopes of such a thing would have evaporated anyway because in the 77th minute Niederlechner made it four in what I have to say was a very cruel goal to concede, though it’s a great one for Freiburg to score. The three points means Freiburg kept pace with Leipzig who had a twist of their own on the day. At half-time they were 1-0 down to Heidenheim, unfortunately they managed to turn that around and it ended up 3-1. Had they lost it would have narrowed the gap to three points.