Freiburg - With European football lying in wait, SC Freiburg can look back on an unforgettable campaign with an immense sense of pride.

Only defeat on the final day to FC Schalke 04 denied the Black Forest outfit a shot at UEFA Champions League football. However, there's no denying a place in the UEFA Europa League represents so much more than your average consolation prize for a side no one expected to get anywhere near the top five nine months earlier.

Surprise package

Even at the halfway point with Freiburg sat fifth in the standings, there were plenty of doubters expecting Christian Streich's exciting ensemble to hit the skids but, overcoming DFB Cup semi-final heartache, the modest club from the South-West dug in to ensure their place alongside side some of Europe's top clubs.

With the success, though, came the exodus. Johannes Flum and Jan Rosenthal confirmed transfers to Eintracht Frankfurt, Max Kruse was snapped up by Borussia Mönchengladbach and Daniel Caligiuri sealed a move to VfL Wolfsburg.

Team game

Yet Streich had built a side that revolved around more than just a handful of talented individuals. Only Bayern Munich and Bayer 04 Leverkusen conceded fewer league goals than Freiburg's 40, with Matthias Ginter, Fallou Diagne, Mensur Mujdza, Oliver Sorg and classy custodian Oliver Baumann integral to the collective success.

Indeed, 14 different players contributed to Freiburg’s 45 goals during 2012/13, eleven of which were grabbed by Kruse, but following his move to Gladbach, the only European competition he will be playing in next season will be at home on his beloved PlayStation.

Christoph Ruf