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Back both teams to score and over 2.5 goals when Freiburg face RB Leipzig
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Of the managers in Europe’s top five leagues of England, Germany, France, Italy and Spain, only Diego Simeone has been in charge of his current club for longer than Christian Streich. The 56-year-old has been the head coach of Freiburg since December 2011.
Before that he was an assistant manager. And prior to that, he was at the helm of the club’s under-19 team. He has been employed by Freiburg in one role or another, without a break, for 27 years. It is fair to say there are not many managers in the modern game quite like Streich.
The 56-year-old has achieved plenty in the Black Forest. He has led the club into the Europa League twice, and will coach Freiburg in the tournament again next year after achieving a sixth-place finish in the Bundesliga this term. After the Breisgau-Brasilianer suffered relegation to the 2. Bundesliga in 2014/15, he took them back to the top tier at the first time of asking. And he is now just one victory away from winning Freiburg’s first major trophy at the national level.
It is hard to do justice to how popular Streich is at the Europa-Park Stadion. By staying up this season (relegation was never a possibility), he has presided over Freiburg’s joint-longest unbroken stretch in the Bundesliga.
Streich has also rebuffed interest from rival clubs at home and abroad. Under his guidance, Freiburg have consistently played attractive soccer and punched above their weight with one of the lowest budgets in Germany’s top division. Winning the DFB-Pokal would only cement his legendary status.
RB Leipzig will be hoping that three is indeed a magic number. German soccer’s most disliked club (their association with Red Bull does not go down well among the country’s larger number of traditionalists) have reached the final of the DFB-Pokal twice before. On both occasions they were comfortably beaten: Bayern Munich won 3-0 in 2019, and Borussia Dortmund triumphed 4-1 last term.
This time, Leipzig are the favorites. Even in a season with its fair share of ups and downs, they finished two places and three points above Freiburg. Despite a 1-1 draw with Arminia Bielefeld on the final day, Leipzig finished in the top four of the Bundesliga and qualified for the Champions League.
Having achieved what was their primary objective for the campaign, Leipzig will now be looking to add icing to the cake by avenging the defeats of 2019 and 2021, and winning the DFB-Pokal for the first time in the club’s relatively short history.
Doing so would be another boost to Domenico Tedesco’s standing at the Red Bull Arena. The former Schalke boss helped to turn Leipzig’s season around after taking the reins in December. If the season had started then, die Roten Bullen would have finished in the Bundesliga. Victory on Saturday would only strengthen the feeling that Leipzig could be a major force next season, especially as there are doubts over both Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund going into the summer.
Cup finals are often tight and cagey affairs – witness the recent FA Cup final between Chelsea and Liverpool, which ended 0-0 after 120 minutes of action. That is understandable. Cup finals are all-or-nothing affairs. There are no second chances. Teams do not want to be caught out at the back, so they tend to take a more cautious approach than usual.
There are reasons to believe this final could buck the trend, though. Leipzig and Freiburg were the fourth and joint-fifth highest scorers in the Bundesliga season just gone. Leipzig scored in each of their last seven league games of the campaign, and in all but one of their 17 matches since the turn of the year. Freiburg drew a blank only twice in 2022, and also scored in each of their last seven Bundesliga encounters.
It is interesting to note that Freiburg kept just one clean sheet on the way to the DFB-Pokal final, despite often playing teams from lower divisions. Leipzig were much more solid at the back, but Freiburg are the type of side that can cause any German opposition problems.
Freiburg are not used to being in cup finals, and they will not want to suffer a limp defeat and live with regrets. That is another reason why Saturday’s showdown will not necessarily be a dull encounter. Go for both teams to score and over 2.5 goals when Freiburg face RB Leipzig.
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|Freiburg vs RB Leipzig Information|
|Teams||Freiburg vs RB Leipzig|
|Location||Olympiastadion, Berlin, Germany|
|Time||Saturday, 21 May 2022, 2.00 PM EDT|
|How to Watch||ESPN+|
Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]More info on Greg Lea
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