3 - 2
(2 - 0)
⚽ V. Grifo (7), ⚽ V. Grifo (44), ⚽ N. Schlotterbeck (87)
⚽ M. Kruse (52), ⚽ M. Arnold (84)
In two other simultaneous kickoffs, Bayern-Hoffenheim and Stuttgart-Union Berlin ended in 1-1 draws.
Freiburg trainer Christian Streich had to replace both Philipp Lienhart and Maximilian Eggestein after positive COVID tests. Additionally, wingback Lukas Kübler could not participate due to muscular problems. Fortunately, the SCF gaffer could rely upon the services of German national team defender Nico Schlotterbeck; a doubt for the match with both injury and COVID related issues.
Streich opted to turn to Schlotterbeck's older brother Keven in his back-three. Manuel Gulde moved back to work with both siblings in the defensive chain. Nicolas Höfler played at the sweeper position ahead of them. Jonathan Schmid took Kübler's place, working opposite captain Cristian Günter in a 3-5-2. Wolfsburg trainer Florian Kohfeldt--with the suspended Maxence Lacroix back from suspension--ditched his back-four from last week and returned to a more familiar 3-4-3.
Spurned on by a sell-out crowd eager to sing in warm spring-like temperatures at the Europa Park Stadion, Freiburg began the game on the front foot. The Breisgauer combination play out of the back was confident and elegant in the opening minutes. Local hero Vincenzo Grifo opened up the scoring in the 7th minute with a radiant free-kick bent past the VfL from some 20 meters out. For one of the Hin-runde's most outstanding players, it was actually his first involvement in the new calendar year.
After the opening goal, Freiburg dropped back a bit and invited the visiting Lower Saxons to come at them. Kohfeldt's crew could nevertheless not manage much in terms of chance creation, even when some calmer back builds were allowed. Shortly after the half hour mark, the Breisgauer were able to get their own offensive game going again. Günter, Lucas Höler and Ermedin Demirovic all got looks in. Günter missed a Grifo cross across the goalmouth by nothing more than a toenail in the 41st.
Three minutes after the close shave, Höfler and Demirovic played a skillful one-two that ultimately resulted in Grifo receiving the ball wide-open six meters out. The German-Italian Pforzheim native finished with aplomb to complete his brace and give his team a 2-0 lead. Wolfsburg finished the half with 0.0 xG. Despite the unimaginative opening 45, Kohfeldt stuck with the same personnel after the restart. The German Wolves did come out of the cabin packing a little more pop.
Thanks in large part due to some solid forward work from the returning Xaver Schlager, Wolfsburg were able to produce some more pressure early in the second half. It paid off seven minutes in when former Freiburg attacker Max Kruse finished off a through ball from Maximilian Arnold. Kohfeldt immediately brought on a second striker after his team pulled one back. Lukas Nmecha entered to work alongside Jonas Wind. The momentum swung in favor of Germany' green company team. Freiburg had to defend passionately in order to hold off their opponents, in some cases committing rough fouls.
Kohfeldt brought on Ridle Baku, Aster Vranckx, and Renato Steffen in the 74th. Young striker Bartosz Bialek also entered the fray in the 83rd in order to lend the team still more attacking prowess. Chances from the subs were legion. The equalizer nevertheless came off starter Arnold's boot in the 84th. The VfL veteran capitalized on a Nico Schlotterbeck clearance error to slam the ball home.
To the delight of the rabid hometown fans, however, Schlotterbeck atoned for his botched pass three minutes later. SCF sub Nils Petersen set him up in the 87th. The younger Schlotterbeck brother supplied a sublime finish just underneath the crossbar from 20 meters out. Both sides traded exciting chances through six minutes of injury time, but the 3-2 scoreline held.
Elsewhere in the Bundesliga's 15:30 kickoffs, two 1-1 draws saw the points shared in Sinsheim and Köpenick. League leaders FC Bayern München drew TSG 1899 Hoffenheim in a chance heavy-match at the PreZero Arena. Respective keepers Manuel Neuer and Oliver Baumann put in some great work to ensure that neither side would come away with all three points.
Bayern have now drawn two fixtures in a row. Arithmetically at least, Dortmund have a chance to make up some ground on the defending champions with two games at hand. The second-placed Schwarzgelben can move within seven points of the FCB with a win against Bielefeld tomorrow. Should the BVB win a midweek makeup fixture against Mainz on Wednesday, Marco Rose's challengers can creep up to within four points.
Insofar as the 2021/22 relegation race is concerned, VfB Stuttgart placed a bit of pressure on relegation rivals Bielefeld, Augsburg, and Hertha by nicking a point off Union Berlin at the Stadion An der alten Försterei. After a highly physical match during which the ball mostly remained in midfield, striker Sasa Kalajdzic finished off a Borna Sosa cross just as the match was entering second-half injury time.
The point moves Stuttgart up to the relegation playoff place. Hertha gets a chance to respond against Gladbach this evening.