Super Saturday stakes high as Freiburg face Bayern Munich
Brace yourself, Bundesliga fans, for it's fourth versus first in what is set to be a Super Saturday showdown not to be missed with Freiburg hosting Bayern Munich in the battle of Europa-Park Stadion.
The dust having barely settled on their Allianz Arena celebrations following a dramatic DFB Cup, quarter-final victory against Bavarian giants Bayern, Christian Streich's men play host to the Bundesliga leaders, who will be thirsty for revenge on their visit to the Black Forest.
bundesliga.com assesses some of the key details ahead of this spellbinding Super Saturday Matchday 27 fixture.
Fortress Freiburg awaits battling Bayern
Thomas Tuchel's team lay claim to the division's handsomest return on their travels this term, with Bayern topping the away table thanks to seven wins and 33 goals scored on the road. To put that latter stat into perspective, Borussia Dortmund, Leipzig, Bayer Leverkusen and Augsburg are next best on the away goals list, each with 21.
Watch: All aboard for Super Saturday in the Bundesliga
However, with Freiburg currently laying claim to a club record 12-game unbeaten run at home in the Bundesliga [eight wins, four draws], Saturday's hosts will hold no fear concerning the arrival of the record champions. In all games, home and away, the team from Breisgau are currently unbeaten in seven in Germany's top flight.
Speaking after witnessing his team win for the first time away against Bayern in Tuesday's DFB Cup triumph, Streich explained, "We lost many games against Bayern over the years, now we have won one, it's nothing more than that. The team fought passionately. We were well positioned all over the pitch and [played with] togetherness." The Freiburg coach will no doubt be calling for more of the same on Saturday.
Honours even after recent bouts
Dayot Upamecano gave Bayern the lead in the midweek knockout cup tie but Nicolas Höfler scored with a stunning, long-range strike to level things up, before Lucas Höler's injury-time penalty sent Freiburg - last season's losing finalists - into the tournament's last four. It was the second time the teams met this season, with the Bundesliga encounter last October providing an altogether different outcome.
Going into that Matchday 10 game, Freiburg were in second position and led Bayern - in third - by two points. What followed was an attacking whitewash from the Bavarian giants, who ran out 5-0 winners to leapfrog their opponents. Serge Gnabry, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, Leroy Sane, Sadio Mane and Marcel Sabitzer were all on target for the hosts and current Bayern boss Tuchel will no doubt be studying that game closely as he looks to send his side out in search of one more victory this weekend.
With Freiburg having won just one of their last 39 Bundesliga games against Bayern (2-1 in May 2015), the visitors will start as favourites.
Watch: Bayern demolished Freiburg earlier in the campaign
"If you don't reach the goals you set at the beginning of the season it hurts," Matthijs de Ligt said after Wednesday night's match. "Right now [the DFB Cup] is something we can't win anymore, so we have to forget it. We have to analyse [the game]; it needs to be better because the next game is also against Freiburg," the Dutch defender - who has won a team-leading 63 per cent of his duels - added. "We're still in the title race and we have the Champions League coming up so we need to stick together."
The players who could make the difference
A team that emphasises the collective as its core strength, Freiburg can nonetheless point to some prolific individuals who have enhanced the side's prospects this term.
Watch: Leroy Sane seeking consistency
Ahead of what will be his 200th Bundesliga game, forward Vincenzo Grifo has been chief among the difference makers in Breisgau, the Italy international weighing in with a team best 13 goals, a number that also places the 29-year-old second on the overall scoring charts in the division.
With his four assists, Grifo - who netted Freiburg's 999th Bundesliga goal against Hertha Berlin last weekend - has been involved in 17 of his side's top-flight goals in 2022/23, more than any other player at the club. With a team best 92 shots on goal this season and a division-high four goals from long-range, Grifo could prove crucial in Freiburg's battle against Bayern.
Watch: Freiburg's free-kick specialist - Vincenzo Grifo
As could Choupo-Moting for Bayern. The striker, who already played under Tuchel at Mainz Paris Saint-Germain, is having a season to remember with the record champions, with his 10 team goals in the Bundesliga only bettered by Jamal Musiala . Choupo-Moting's finishing efficiency of +4.1 is the second best in the league while he is the Bundesliga's highest scorer away from home, scoring seven on the road.
The Cameroonian will need to be closely monitored by Freiburg's Mathias Ginter, who proved his weight in gold for Saturday's hosts in Munich last Wednesday. A super block to deny Sane accompanied by a crucial goal-line cearance at the Allianz Arena proved huge moments in Freiburg's DFB Cup success.
Only one of two players to have featured in every minute of this Bundesliga season, Germany international and Freiburg native Ginter is his side's highest appearance holder in the top-flight with 317 games and counting while, incredibly, he commits on average just one foul every two games and has never been sent off in his career.
Elsewhere, Freiburg captain Christian Günter will look to lead by example. As his side's highest assist provider [with four] the flying full-back is the third-highest provider of crosses that have led to goals [three] while he is the second-quickest player in his team after Lukas Kübler.
And speaking of pace, Bayern's Kingsley Coman is no slouch and will certainly add zip to the Bavarians' attempts to bamboozle their opponents at the weekend. Coman has scored five times in his last six Bundesliga outings while his involvement-in-goals tally stands at 10 [following his four assists]. It's also notable that whenever the France attacker has scored in his Bayern career, the reigning champions have never lost [30 wins, one draw].
Watch: The Freiburg feel-good factor
Hoping to win an automatic starting berth back at Bayern is Musiala, for whom this could be a big weekend. Until recently, the 20-year-old was very much the main man in red. Indeed, his numbers are still among the best within Tuchel's team. He is Bayern's top scorer with eleven goals and the top assist provider with eight.
The Stuttgart native is also among the top ten players in the Bundesliga for creating good scoring chances and sits behind only Eintracht Frankfurt's Randal Kolo Muani and Niclas Füllkrug of Werder Bremen in terms of direct goal involvements. Having already fought his way out of 54 per cent of of the 502 pressure situations he was involved in, Tuchel might look to Musiala in the Europa-Park Stadion pressure cooker on Saturday.
Add to the list the likes of Höler, Sane, Ritsu Doan, Sadio Mane, Michael Gregoritsch and Thomas Müller - to name a few - and there are players all over the park who will have all the attributes to emerge from this fixture with a man of the match accolade.
Watch: Bayern's attacking pearl - Jamal Musiala
While Tuchel gets set to oversee just his third game in charge of Bayern [his first producing an impressive 4-2 Der Klassiker win against Borussia Dortmund last weekend], his opposite number Streich is getting ready for his 435th match at the Freiburg helm. Bavaria native Tuchel said after Wednesday's setback, "We need to create and develop this kind of energy and rage on the pitch," when assessing Bayern's next steps. Streich added, "You can't defend everything against Bayern. We had a bit of luck at the right moment; no doubt you need that."
Both coaches will now be hoping for a combination of high energy with a little luck thrown in as they seek to secure a Super Saturday win that would provide a significant boost ahead of the big Bundesliga run in. You can follow all of the build-up and action from the Europa-Park Stadion right here on bundesliga.com and across our social channels on what looks set to be a memorable Super Saturday in Germany's top flight.
Watch: Thomas Tuchel taking it step by step
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