Looking to bounce back from their disappointing result in the Conference League midweek, Köln are off to the Black Forest, where both teams are nearing the end of a brutal fall schedule.
|Steffen Baumgart.||Photo: Sandro Halank, Wikimedia Commons, CC-BY-SA 3.0|
Christian Streich put out a second-string starting 11 in their draw against Qarabag on Thursday, but the usual starters will return to the lineup on Sunday. Freiburg are looking for their third straight win in league play, as the 4th-place club are again exceeding expectations.
The set-piece kings have never achieved 24 points in the league through 12 matches, with losses only to Bayern and Dortmund this season. Freiburg easily qualified for the Europa League round of 16 and have set themselves up for a decent chance of securing Champions League football next year.
Kevin Schade is injured again after suffering a rough red-card challenge in Azerbaijan. Luckily, Roland Sallai made his long-awaited return to the pitch midweek after recovering from a nasty eye injury that required surgery.
Streich said, “The team does extraordinary things, many play at a very good level and we do everything together. It starts at the front, everything is done and if things don't work, it's shaken off and continued. We have games every three days. What the team has shown in recent months is really inspiring."
Schade, Jonathan Schmidt, Manuel Gulde and Kimberly Ezekwem are likely out of the squad. Sallai will be an option once again.
Köln will undoubtedly bring lots of their die-hard traveling supporters to the Black Forest. Spirits may be down slightly after they couldn’t get the required three points in a wild home match against Nice in the Conference League.
All of Steffen Baumgart’s attention is back on the Bundesliga for the rest of the campaign and Köln currently sit mid-table. They at least don’t have the 48-hour turnaround that was required against Hoffenheim last week.
With several key players out injured, Florian Kainz has stepped up and been the key creator up front. Steffen Tigges has been a decent summer edition, while Ellyes Skhiri is holding things down in the middle of the park per usual.
Following the Nice loss, Baumgart commented about his team’s outlook on the rest of the season: "The goal will not be international competition, by no means. But we saw how nice it can be. - I'd like to experience it again, preferably with FC."
Sebastian Andersson, Florian Dietz, Dimitrios Limnios, Tim Lemperle, Mark Uth and Dejan Ljubicic are out. Jonas Hector is still unlikely to be a squad option.