Freiburg, aiming for a spot in Europe, hosts third-placed Stuttgart at the Europa Park Stadion on Saturday, hoping to move closer to sixth place in the Bundesliga.
The Breisgau Brazilians are just three points behind Eintracht Frankfurt, who currently hold the last spot for European competition, while Stuttgart is feeling the pressure from an in-form Borussia Dortmund as we head into the 20th game week.
Freiburg is still in the race for a Europa Conference League qualification spot or even fifth place, which is now held by RB Leipzig, despite not scoring many goals.
Their immediate goal is to catch up to Frankfurt, with just three points separating the two teams, although Freiburg’s negative goal difference puts them at a slight disadvantage.
Under Christian Streich, Freiburg has scored only 25 times in 19 games, the fewest among the top half of the table, and has allowed 31 goals, more than any of the six teams above them.
The break in the season came at a bad time for Freiburg, which had ended 2023 with three wins and a loss. They’ve managed to get four points from the last nine available.
This performance is not the worst, but consistent wins are crucial if they want to overtake Frankfurt—who have secured 10 points from their last four games—and maybe even Leipzig, who have lost their last three games.
Stuttgart, missing Serhou Guirassy, sees the title as out of reach unless there’s a significant change in the league’s top two teams’ performances. They are 12 and 10 points behind Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern Munich, respectively.
Recent losses to Borussia Monchengladbach and Bochum have hurt Stuttgart’s title aspirations, and Dortmund’s excellent start to 2024 threatens Stuttgart’s current third place. If Stuttgart drops points against Freiburg and Dortmund wins against Heidenheim, Stuttgart could fall behind before even playing, as Dortmund plays on Friday night.
Despite their uneven form, Stuttgart is still ahead of fifth-placed Leipzig by four points, ensuring they remain in a Champions League spot for another week.
Freiburg Bundesliga form:
W W L D W L
Freiburg form (all competitions):
L W L D W L
Stuttgart Bundesliga form:
D L W L L W
Ritsu Doan is absent due to his participation in the Asian Cup with Japan, extending his absence following a win over Bahrain.
Roland Sallai might miss the game due to illness, and several players including Christian Gunter, Philipp Lienhart, Kenneth Schmidt, Max Rosenfelder, and Daniel-Kofi Kyereh are dealing with injuries and are unlikely to play this weekend.
Guirassy and Silas Katompa Mvumpa are at the Africa Cup of Nations with Guinea and DR Congo, respectively; Woo-yeong Jeong and Hiroki Ito are also on international duty with South Korea and Japan.
Lilian Egloff, Dan-Axel Zagadou, and Nikolas Nartey are out with knee injuries, with Nartey expected back this month.
Freiburg possible starting lineup:
Sildillia, Ginter, Gulde, Makengo;
Rohl, Grifo, Weisshaupt;
Stuttgart possible starting lineup:
Vagnoman, Anton, Rouault, Mittelstadt;
Leweling, Fuhrich, Millot;
Prediction: Freiburg 2-1 Stuttgart
Stuttgart’s recent away form has been poor, losing their last three games on the road. This trend may continue against a Freiburg team that hasn’t lost at the Europa-Park Stadion since mid-September, barring a 4-2 defeat to Dortmund, their only home loss in the Bundesliga this season.