Greuther Fürth vs Freiburg preview:
Kleeblätter aiming to dent Freiburg's Champions League hopes
By Ben Sully @SullyBen
The four-horse race for Champions League qualification seems to be hotting up, and though Freiburg may fancy their chances against struggling Greuther Fürth, they cannot afford to have any slip ups at this late stage of the season.
Fürth's stay in the top flight looks to be drawing to a close with nine points separating them from the relegation playoff spot.
The bottom-placed side enter Saturday's contest off the back of a sobering 6-1 defeat against RB Leipzig. Despite scoring the opener in that encounter, Fürth went into the break trailing 4-1 before conceding two more goals in the second half.
Unfortunately for the Kleeblätter, last week's defensive display was not a one-off, as Fürth have shipped 70 goals in their 26 league games, giving them the unwanted tag of possessing the worst defence in the Bundesliga this season.
Matters at the other end of the pitch have not been much better, with Arminia Bielefeld the only side to have scored fewer Bundesliga goals than Fürth this term. Although, Saturday's hosts will be encouraged by the fact that they have scored in their last eight matches.
With all three of their Bundesliga wins coming against sides who sit in tenth place or lower, picking up three points on Saturday may prove too difficult of a task, but the hosts will be hoping that they can at the very least trouble a Freiburg side who are chasing Champions League qualification.
Sebastian Griesbeck is expected to return to the starting lineup after serving a one-match suspension. The hosts will, however, be without Jeremy Dudziak, Marius Funk and Robin Kehr, who are ruled out through injury. Although buoyed by his call up to the Germany U21 side, Simon Asta will have to settle for a place on the bench once again.
The Breisgau-Brasilianer have hit their straps at the right time, as they head into the weekend in the midst of a six-game unbeaten run in all competitions.
It has been a season to remember for Freiburg's supporters. Their team has reached the last four of the DFB-Pokal, while in the Bundesliga, they remain firmly in the hunt for Champions League qualification.
Christian Streich's men sit in fifth position, with RB Leipzig's superior goal difference the only reason that Freiburg do not currently occupy a top-four spot. With Bayer Leverkusen just a point better off in third place, it seems as though two teams from Hoffenheim, Freiburg, Leipzig and Leverkusen will qualify for next season's Champions League.
Freiburg demonstrated all of their fighting qualities last weekend, when they emerged victorious from a five-goal thriller at home to Wolfsburg. A comfortable first half indicated that Freiburg were in for a comfortable afternoon after Vincenzo Grifo netted a brace to give the hosts a two-goal cushion at the break. However, the Wolves hit back through Max Kruse and an 84th-minute strike from Maximilian Arnold.
After seeing their two-goal lead wiped out, Streich's charges were perhaps within their rights to let their heads drop, but they have shown this season that is not in their nature. Nico Schlotterbeck was the hero of the hour, coming up trumps in the 87th minute to keep his side firmly on track for the top four.
After seeing his side concede two goals in a match for the first time in nearly two months last weekend, Streich will hope the second-best Bundesliga defence can return to form to keep struggling Fürth at bay on Saturday.
The visitors are set to be without Philipp Lienhart, Yannik Keitel, Woo-yeong Jeong, Lukas Kübler and Kevin Schade. Nils Petersen, meanwhile, may be in Streich's thoughts, but the Freiburg boss is expected to stick with Ermedin Demirović up top.