HomeBundesligaFreiburg out to make history in clash against Union

Freiburg out to make history in clash against Union

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football – DFB Cup – Semi Final – Hamburg SV v SC Freiburg – Volksparkstadion, Hamburg, Germany – April 19, 2022 SC Freiburg coach Christian Streich celebrates after the match REUTERS/Cathrin Mueller

BERLIN (Reuters) – No-one expected Freiburg’s sensational run in the Bundesliga this season but both players and coach Christian Streich have now set their sights on the Champions League, and victory over fellow surprise team Union Berlin on Saturday could ensure that.

Freiburg’s annual budget is a fraction of that of the Bundesliga powerhouses Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund who have annual turnovers in the hundreds of millions of euros.

But Streich’s disciplined team have defied the odds and are sitting in fourth place on 55 points with two games left in the season. Last season’s runners-up RB Leipzig are fifth on 54.

The top four qualify automatically for next season’s Champions League group stage.

Victory over Union, who have also punched above their weight this season to stay in the running for a first-ever European spot in seventh place on 51, could see them secure a top-four finish if Leipzig slip up against Augsburg on Sunday.

That would be a remarkable achievement for a team that traditionally lose several of their best players to the big clubs each season, such as Germany international Nico Schlotterbeck who will join Borussia Dortmund next season, but have still managed to remain competitive in the league year after year.

While Freiburg have won three of their last four league games, Leipzig have lost their last two to drop behind in the battle for a top-four finish.

Bayern Munich, on 75 points, have already secured their 10th straight league title while Borussia Dortmund, on 63, have all but sealed second place. Bayer Leverkusen, in third place on 58, take on Hoffenheim on Saturday.

“We have extreme confidence that we can take on any opponent,” Freiburg forward Lucas Hoeler said in a club interview. “You can’t really realise exactly what has happened this season.”

Freiburg have not only played their best-ever Bundesliga season, they have also reached the German Cup final where they will face Leipzig on May 21 for the chance of their first major silverware.

“It has so far been an outstanding season that we now need to crown. We will work extremely hard to get the maximum success,” Hoeler said.

“Against Union we need to win and then we have a final on the last matchday and we will see what happens. If we win the last three matches (including the Cup final) then we will have achieved something remarkable.”

(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; editing by Clare Fallon)