A “special challenge” in Mainz

First Team

SC Freiburg’s matchday 5 fixture will see them travel to take on 1. FSV Mainz 05 on Saturday at 15:30 CEST.

SC Freiburg’s memories from the match against Mainz in the first half of last season aren’t positive, although that game was somewhat of a turning point for Christian Streich’s side. The 3-1 defeat on a cold evening at the Dreisamstadion in November was particularly disappointing, especially the first-half performance, which was arguably the club’s worst display of the whole season.

“Maybe it wasn’t the worst thing in the world,” reflected Streich, whose team went on to lay the foundations for another solid season after that defeat. SC subsequently enjoyed a seven-game unbeaten streak in the league, and even set a new club record with five straight wins between December and January.

Unlike last season – when Mainz had also started the season poorly – both teams are going into this game in completely different situations, having enjoyed a good start to 2021/22. The Zerofivers are fourth with nine points on the board, just ahead of SC with eight points in fifth.

If SC avoid defeat this weekend, this would see the club equal their longest unbeaten run at the start of a Bundesliga season, last achieved in 2004.

To do that, Freiburg will need to perform well against an in-form Mainz team, who have been like a completely new side since head coach Bo Svensson was appointed in January. “When it comes to aggressiveness, tackling and pressing, Mainz are one of the best teams in the league,” said Streich. “I said before the start of the season that I believe Mainz will be fighting for Europe.”

After some SC players didn’t have the best time of things in the 1-1 draw against 1. FC Köln, Streich needs the team to work better together this time around. “We will need to be switched on from the off and need to be brave against them. It’s a great task for us, and I’m really excited because it’s a special challenge.”

SC are still without Jonathan Schmid (Covid-19 infection) and Kimberly Ezekwem (rehabilitation training), while Nicolas Höfler, who has been out recently, is a doubt.

Photo: Achim Keller

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