Xavi-inspired Leipzig see off Freiburg to race into top four


RB Leipzig returned to winning ways in the Bundesliga after goals from Xavi, Christoph Baumgartner and a Loïs Openda penalty helped to see off a battling Freiburg.

Leipzig 3-1 Freiburg
Goals: 1-0 Xavi 6', 1-1 Röhl 45'+6 (assist: Ginter), 2-1 Openda (pen.) 79', 3-1 Baumgartner 80' (assist: Xavi)

A combination of Leipzig's hulking home record against Freiburg and Xavi's scintillating early-season form for Die Roten Bullen suggested the visitors might be up against it at the Red Bull Arena. That theory took all of six minutes to play itself out. Dallying in possession at the wrong end of the pitch, visiting forward Lucas Höler winced when he saw it was Xavi who had pounced to nick the ball. Sure enough, the 20-year-old - one of the stars of the Bundesliga this season - controlled and moved into position before arcing a superb shot around goalkeeper Noah Atubolu. Leipzig soon went in search of more and Emil Forsberg, Benjamin Šeško and Openda all went close. Freiburg were feeding off scraps until Kiliann Sildillia had a goal ruled out for offside. It was a moment that provided the Black-Forest team with the belief that led to Merlin Röhl equalising following a slaloming run and fine finish to the far corner. 

Leipzig had never before lost in seven games at home to Freiburg in the Bundesliga but that record looked under threat at the start of the second half. Höler had a goal chalked off for offside before Vincenzo Grifo drew a smart stop from recent Germany call-up Janis Blaswich. Unhappy with what he was seeing, home coach Marco Rose rang the changes. Christoph Baumgartner was one of four players to enter the fray and when the Austrian was upended by a tiring Grifo inside the area, the hosts were awarded a penalty which Openda converted with the utmost of calm. Moments later, Baumgartner was there again - feeding off a Xavi assist - to finish off a counter-attack with a deflected strike that flew in at the near post as the hosts sprinted up to fourth place in the table.   

Match stats

  • Openda is Leipzig’s leading scorer with nine goals from 11 appearances.
  • Xavi now has 11 goal involvements in the Bundesliga - four goals and a division-leading seven assists
  • As many as two of Xavi's four top-flight goals in Germany this season have been scored in the 6th minute.
  • Röhl scored his first competitive goal for Freiburg against TSC Backa Topola in Europe last Thursday, and followed that with his first Bundesliga goal here.
  • Matthias Ginter's assist for Röhl's equaliser represented the first time the Freiburg defender was involved in a goal since last April. 
  • Leipzig are unbeaten in their last ten Bundesliga home games (W8, D2), and have never lost to Freiburg on their own patch in the top flight (W6, D2) since they both came up in 2016.
  • Die Roten Bullen have won the last four competitive meetings with Freiburg and are unbeaten in ten encounters across competitions (eight in the Bundesliga). 

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Leipzig: Blaswich - Simakan (Henrichs 63'), Klostermann, Castello, Raum - Xavi (Lenz 86'), Schlager, Haidara (Kampl 68'), Forsberg (c) (Baumgartner 63'), Poulsen - Openda, Šeško (63')
Unused subs: Gulácsi, Seiwald, Carvalho, Werner
Out: Bitshiabu (knee), Olmo (shoulder), Orban (knee)
Coach: Marco Rose

Freiburg: Atubolu - Ginter, Lienhart, Gulde (Schmidt 89') - Sildillia, Eggestein, Höfler, Weißhaupt - Röhl (Dōan 79'), Grifo (c) (Gregoritsch 79') - Höler (Adamu 88')
Unused subs: Müller, Makengo, Rüdlin, Baur
Out: Günter (broken arm), Kübler (unconfirmed), Kyereh (knee), Philipp (shoulder), Sallai (thigh)
Coach: Christian Streich