Freiburg/Munich - Matchday 4 gets underway three days early this week as SC Freiburg play host to FC Bayern Munich on Tuesday evening (kick-off 18:30 CEST).
The German and European champions' UEFA Supercup date with Chelsea FC in Prague on Friday is the reason for the unusual Bundesliga bonus and Christian Streich, for one, is looking forward to it: "Is there anything better could happen to us? We're playing a Bundesliga match against Bayern Munich. We need to approach it with courage and a good, positive attitude."
A partial context, at least, for the home coach's upbeat manner is that his side go into this one as undisputed underdogs. Having taken just one point from their opening three league outings, Freiburg have almost inevitably been facing questions as to whether they are suffering something of a reaction to their unexpected success last season, when they qualified for the UEFA Europa League by way of a fifth-place finish in the table.
Not that Streich has the time or inclination for such reflections at the moment. The 48-year-old tactician has made clear that the strategy against the Munich star ensemble will revolve around nothing more complicated than "work, work, work". And he is in absolutely no doubt that "Bayern will be totally focused. They don't want to have to say at the end of the season that they didn't win the title because they lost at Freiburg".
Long time no win against Bayern
That is something that has not happened in a while. In fact, Bayern have not lost any of their last 22 meetings with the Black Forest outfit, a run stretching back 17 years now. Last season they were made to work all the way for a 2-0 victory at the Mage Solar Stadion and Streich knows that if his side are to have any chance of ending that sequence, it is vital that they "don't get frustrated by not seeing much of the ball... It's a psychological factor as well".
Bayern arrive in town fresh from setting yet another record, albeit "merely" a club one this time, Saturday's regional derby win against 1. FC Nürnberg leaving them now unbeaten in their last 28 Bundesliga outings. Having analysed the teams' last meeting, Streich's counterpart Pep Guardiola is nonetheless "very impressed. We're going to have to play well and if we don't, we won't win". Thomas Müller colourfully underscored the coach's assessment, saying: "We're taking on another side who are going to be busting a gut against us."
Key players missing on both sides
Francis Coquelin and Admir Mehmedi's intestines will be spared for this one, both of them being suspended after receiving their marching orders in the pulsating 3-3 weekend draw at Hoffenheim. Defender Fallou Diagne, who was subbed off injured in that one, remains a doubtful starter as well.
Bayern for their part will have to do without Thiago Alcantara not only at Freiburg but for the next couple of months altogether after the midfielder underwent ankle surgery on Monday. Fellow Spain international Javi Martinez also remains sidelined with an adductor problem.
Freiburg: Baumann - Mujdza, Diagne, Ginter, Sorg - Schuster, Fernandes - Schmid, Kerk - Guedé, Freis
Bayern: Neuer - Lahm, van Buyten, Dante, Alaba - Schweinsteiger - Robben, Müller, Kroos, Ribery - Pizarro