Freiburg aim for style and survival | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 15.08.2016
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Freiburg aim for style and survival

Freiburg were a scoring machine as they won the second division. Back in the top flight, they are hoping to continue to play attractive football, while at the same time avoiding relegation.

SC Freiburg are back in the Bundesliga after winning the second division - and promotion on their first attempt.

Since making their first appearance in the top flight in 1993, plucky Freiburg have often punched above their weight, qualifying for Europe three times. However, the perils of relegation have never been far off for the relatively small club, who have made selling good players developed by their youth academy part of their business plan.

Transfers: No big-name signings

Having lost many of their (relatively) big names after they were relegated two seasons ago, Freiburg's comings and goings on the transfer market were plenty, but involved players that are less than household names in the Bundesliga.  

The club were forced to look for cover in goal after former US under-20 national team member Zakaray Steffen, who coach Christian Streich had penciled in as his third-string goalkeeper, signed with the Columbus Crew of Major League Soccer.

Presumably, sporting director Klemens Hartenbach would have liked to bring in a goalkeeper with a lot of first-class experience, as Alexander Schwolow and Patric Klandt have made a grand total of one appearance in the Bundesliga between them. The man they did wind up signing, Rafal Gikiewicz, may have been the number one keeper at Braunschweig, but he has not got a single Bundesliga game under his belt.

Deutschland Bundesliga 2014/2015 Hannover 96 SC Freiburg Enttäuschung

Freiburg bounced straight back after relegation in 2014-15

Among the outfield players brought in are right-sided defender Aleksandar Ignjovski, who moved south from Eintracht Frankfurt. The others, Janik Haberer from Hoffenheim, Manuel Gulde (Karlsruhe), Onur Bulut (Bochum) and Jonas Meffert (Bayer Leverkusen/Karlsruhe) are all players who have yet to prove themselves in the Bundesliga.

More important than their new signings was the fact that for a change, the club managed to hold on to a number of their key players despite interest from more established Bundesliga clubs. Nils Petersen surprised many by staying with the club when they were relegated and his goals were a major factor in their securing promotion.

Vincenzo Grifo, who blossomed in the second division after his arrival last year, Maximilian Philipp and Marc-Oliver Kempf have also chosen to stay in the southwestern Breisgau region as the club embarks on its latest Bundesliga adventure.

Head coach: Christian Streich

It is hard to imagine Christian Streich, who speaks with a heavy southwestern regional accent, coaching any other team in the Bundesliga. He seems to be a perfect fit for Freiburg, who struggled to find a long-term replacement after Volker Finke left in 2007, following his 16 years at the helm. Sure, the Sport Club were relegated under Streich two years ago, but he got them back up first time.

Freiburg have long been a different kind of club, where relegation does not automatically lead to the coach being fired. Finke, after all, is the only coach in German football history to have won promotion and been relegated three times without losing his job. Streich is certainly not aiming to emulate Finke in this regard and simply avoiding the drop will be satisfactory for the club this season.

Key man: Nils Petersen

Fußball 2. Bundesliga SC Paderborn 07 - SC Freiburg

Nils Petersen will be an important figure for Freiburg

Freiburg's philosophy is that the team is the star, but Nils Petersen's 21 goals played a big part in them winning the second division title last term. The Bundesliga, however, is a major step up. The SportClub will need the German Olympian to produce on at least a semi-regular basis if they are to avoid relegation.

What to expect: It is all about playing attractive football while avoiding the drop

While he is well aware of the need to be solid at the back, coach Streich has promised that Freiburg will try to play the quick, combination football that was so successful for them in the second division.

Their offense (75 goals in 2015-16) cannot be expected to maintain this level of production in the Bundesliga, but the team will still look to create a good number of goals from dead-ball situations. Grifo alone found the net six times from direct free kicks last season.

They will have to work on their defense though, having conceded 39 in the second division. Still, unless things go terribly wrong in some way, Freiburg should stand a good chance of achieving their goal of leaving at least three teams behind them in the season's final standings.

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