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Streich’s demand: “Not a meter wrong”

Freiburg coach Christian Streich pays great compliments to his colleague Niko Kovac and his comrades-in-arms and expects a “maximum challenge” for his team, which has been so successful so far, at the restart in Wolfsburg.

Knows what is important at SC: Christian Streich.

IMAGO/Jöran Steinsiek

“A few weeks ago they were at a point where the results weren’t good at all. Niko did amazing things with his staff and the team,” Streich begins his praise of the upcoming opponent: “Of course they have an incredibly good squad. What’s that but now the discipline, aggressiveness and processes on the pitch are back is really good.”

He told his team exactly the same thing and backed it up with corresponding video material. “What they won recently. You don’t usually win in Mainz anyway, they won 3-0 there, won in Hoffenheim after a really good game and beat Dortmund.”

Streich’s conclusion: “It’s going to be a really difficult game, Wolfsburg will be 100 percent in contention for the European places. There’s so much clarity and quality in how they perform.”

Freiburgers need full focus

His team needs full focus and willingness to “work your way in and run properly”. Luckily for Streich, these are the typical strengths of his players, who have kept them in second place with a seven-point lead over Wolfsburg. Streich and Co. can therefore travel to Lower Saxony with a lot of self-confidence. The SC players have that too, but the statements of the trainer should not be reduced to tactical bullying of the opponent.

In fact, two of the most successful teams recently meet – it’s exciting to see which team has preserved its form best over the two-month break. Wolfsburg have remained undefeated in the last nine competitive games, scored 18 points in eight league games, most recently there were four wins in a row. “It had nothing to do with luck, just with their performance. I watched all the games,” said Streich.

Freiburg scored 16 league points in the same period, also progressed in the cup and, on top of that, recorded two wins and two draws in the Europa League. Streich expects a “very exciting and interesting game” and a “maximum challenge” for his team. That was also convincing in the training camp, but conceded too many goals for the 57-year-old in the tests against Basel (3: 2) and HSV (6: 2).

Then they outplay you faster than you can think.

The misconduct before the goals were conceded should not be repeated, with all due respect to Hamburg, Wolfsburg is a different category of opponents. At the end, Streich called on his pros for absolute tactical precision: “The lads mustn’t be wrong by a meter. Arnold and all the lads from Wolfsburg are playing it so well at the moment; if you’re two or three meters wrong, start wrong or sleep away from the ball, they’ll outplay you faster than you can think. And in a very simple way. There’s no more balls for gallery, it’s all played for efficiency.”

In order to be able to defend against this VfL team in the best possible way, Philipp Lienhart in good form would be an important building block. The central defender partner of national player Matthias Ginter has only trained to a limited extent due to muscular problems. “He’s healthy again,” Streich said on Thursday: “He could play.” Also in the starting XI.

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