Twenty-five-year-old French midfielder Baptiste Santamaria shall serve as the crucial cog in SC Freiburg's quest to avoid relegation.
At a Monday press conference, Freiburg trainer Christian Streich had plenty of praise for his club's record signing.
|Christian Streich.||Photo: Ctruongngoc/CC-by-SA 3.0|
Baptiste Santamaria was inserted directly into Freiburg's starting XI for Sunday's 1-1 draw with VfL Wolfsburg. Despite the fact that his side squandered several chances to collect all three points, head coach Christian Streich declared himself satisfied with his team's effort.
"I am fully satisfied," Streich told the German press corps, "We played very well for 25 minutes in the second half, scored an offside-disallowed-goal, and were unlucky to have hit the post."
Regarding his €10 million prize acquisition Santamaria, Streich proclaimed him "a fighter" and "a great guy". "He got better as the game progressed," Streich noted, "He brings a new energy to our team. The boys love it when someone comes in like that. That makes me feel confident. I'm very pleased with his debut."
Santamaria's initial 45 minutes were somewhat weak. He committed a bad foul, misplayed a ball to midfield partner Lucas Höler on a promising counter, and let a few balls get past him. "He had a lot of information [to process] this week in a very short time," Streich took care to emphasize, "It's not no easy to arrive at a new country and new team."
The French international did show some promise in the opening half. He worked hard on several midfield runs, played some clever passes, and nearly unleashed Höler on a solid chip ball.
In the second half he would put on a true display, showing all those watching and 3,300 live spectators at the Schwarzwald-Station what he brings to the Breisgauer.
Wolfsburg back-up keeper Pavao Pervan could only just barely steer a scorching Santamaria effort to the inside of the post with his fingertips in the 64th. Thirteen minutes later, the new signing would get another chance directly in front of goal, but couldn't find the touch to direct the ball into the top corner.
Santamaria finished the match with 58 touches, four shots, a 76 pass completion rate, an impressive 79 win rate on duels, and a total distance of 12.27 kilometers covered. "I had a lot of fun and I think we played a very good game," the Frenchman noted after the match.
When asked about his next opponent, Borussia Dortmund, a reporter observed Santamaria's eyes light up. "We'll do everything we can to deliver a good match and accomplish something," he noted brightly.