Bundesliga blog: The amazing story of Freiburg's Great Escape

Welcome to our German football blog, courtesy of Ross Dunbar of brand new German football site bundesligafootball.co.uk .


Last season the Bundesliga was gripped by Borussia Monchengladbach's quite immense fight-back from 13 points adrift at the bottom of the Bundesliga to a last-ditch final day showdown to stay in the league.

In dramatic fashion, Lucien Favre's men sneaked out of the relegation zone with a point against Hamburg SV.

But if you thought that was impressive, then you will be amazed by the turnaround at SC Freiburg.

The Swabians were five points away from safety at the end of the hinrunde and after just 13 points in 17 games, Marcus Sorg was sacked during the winter break.

Taking up the mantle was the club's youth coach Christian Streich who immediately had to deal with the £10m sale of star striker and major goal provider Papiss Demba Cisse to Newcastle United.

From the outside, it looked as though Freiburg were budgeting for a place in 2.Bundesliga given their actions in January, but Streich's confidence in youth provided to be just as important as signing players in the window.

Cut adrift at the bottom of the table and shorn of their star player and chief source of goals, things looked bleak indeed.

But since Streich's appointment, Freiburg have secured 22 points from 15 matches with an impressive mix of results, including a 0-0 draw against FC Bayern and wins over Hamburg, Leverkusen and Schalke.

Two of the most impressive younger players to have excelled under Streich have been Johannes Flum and Daniel Caligiuri. The former is the vice-captain at Freiburg and has been a revelation in midfield.

Flum is naturally a holding-midfielder with excellent positional intelligence and terrific energy to get around the park. The 24-year-old also is very comfortable on the ball and has a pass completion percentage of over 75%.

Caligiuri is also 24 and has been in excellent form in the ruckrunde for Freiburg. The midfielder has been deployed on the left-hand side of the 4-4-2 and possesses excellent shooting technique with five goals this season.

Goalkeeper Oliver Baumann is one of the best young prospects between the sticks in German football and made 31 appearances so far this season. The 21-year-old has a good passing range for a goalkeeper and has terrific handling from long-range shots, in particular.

In front of Baumann, Freiburg have two very talented defenders in Oliver Sorg, 21, and Immanuel Höhn, 20, who have been consistent performers in the second half of the season.

Probably one of the most impressive aspects of Freiburg's play has been the flexibility between defensive formations and more attacking tactics.

Christian Streich's men have used the 4-4-2 formation mostly, but have made some changes when necessary. For example, in matches against Leverkusen and Hamburg, the system changed to a counter-attacking 4-5-1 with Dembele or Freis in the lone-striking role.

But it's not just the youth of Freiburg that has kept them in the German Bundesliga, they have some very experienced players who have contributed to the cause.

Scottish fans may remember Andreas Hinkel who spent three years at Celtic. He has been at the club since October but has made just six appearances in the league. Defender Oliver Barth, 31, has been a stalwart at times this season and captain Cedric Makiadi is an experienced and calming influence on the side at 28 years of age.

Given the size of SC Freiburg, compared to other Bundesliga clubs, their ambitions next season will be similar to that of 2011/12 with the main hope being to stay in the top flight.

The club is progressing at youth level with a fledging academy and if Streich can get his hands on two or three cheap additions in the summer, they might be able to realise that ambition. The most important thing though, will be keeping the likes of Flum and Caligiuri.


Read more from Ross at the new site bundesligafootball.co.uk or follow @rossdunbar93 on Twitter

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