Munich - Topping last term's fifth-placed finish was always going to be a big ask for SC Freiburg.

Third from bottom going into the winter break, the south-west club will be looking to wipe the slate clean in 2014

No longer able to call on the goals of the departed Max Kruse, Christian Streich’s young and inexperienced side have learned the hard way that balancing domestic and European matters is anything but easy. Die Breisgauer had to wait until Matchday 11 for their first Bundesliga win of 2013/14, all the while competing on a near-weekly basis in the UEFA Europa League. Being knocked out at the group stages, however, could prove a blessing in disguise.

The goals of Switzerland international striker Admir Mehmedi have been one of the few plus points of a trying Hinrunde for Freiburg’s frenzied fan base. Joining the club on loan from Ukrainian outfit Dynamo Kyiv in July 2013, the Macedonia-born forward has since found the net five times in the Bundesliga, with a well-taken brace helping the club to only their third league win of the campaign at home to Hannover 96 on Matchday 17.

SC Freiburg played their part in ending the 2013/14 campaign’s goal glut, after settling for a point in the Bundesliga's first 0-0 draw since 28 April 2013 against SV Werder Bremen on Matchday 9. At the time, it was also goalkeeper Oliver Baumann’s first clean sheet of the season. He has kept two since.

“Believe it or not, I wouldn’t stab Jogi in the back,” said Freiburg head coach Christian Streich when pressed on Germany head coach Joachim Löw’s decision to omit Bayer 04 Leverkusen striker Stefan Kießling from the national side. “Jogi lives 100 yards away from me as the crow flies. I feel proud to live near someone like him.”

Czech international midfielder Vladimir Darida has made just six Bundesliga appearances so far this term, scoring once, but is exactly the sort of player Streich looks for. Young, intelligent and with bags of talent, the 23-year-old’s potential will be tested to the full as Freiburg look to pull clear of the drop zone in the new year.