Munich - SC Freiburg head into their eighth week including a midweek match this season trying to summon up what reserves of energy they can find against VfL Wolfsburg on Sunday (kick-off 15:30 CET).
After being by Bayer 04 Leverkusen in midweek, Freiburg have another crucial cup tie on the horizon against Sevilla FC in the , but before that encounter, there is the not-so-minor matter of picking up points in the Bundesliga.
"It's going to be another match in which we're going to need to be 100 per cent," said Freiburg coach Christian Streich. "Wolfsburg have some very strong tacklers, they're very robust in one-on-ones, but they are also technically very gifted. We're going to have to pull together and resist with all we can summon up." That means from the first to the very last minute with Streich concerned by his side's slow start to recent matches.
However, he has seen a good enough reaction from his players, despite defeats to Borussia Mönchengladbach and Leverkusen, to feel they are heading in the right direction. "Both games were clear steps forwards," Streich added. "Even if the results may not have reflected that." Now the time has come for the Black Forest side to turn those performances into points to ease their relegation fears going into the winter break.
"For our coming games, it's important to see how we manage to conserve the quality of our recent performances and take the next step," said Streich, who for the first time this season may name an unchanged side. "We'll just have to see what our energy levels are," he added. One familiar face could be lining up for the Wolves on Sunday with Daniel Caligiuri looking strong in recent games. "I reckon he's going to play against us," said Streich. "He's been playing well recently but then he was already playing well with us."
Wolfsburg have been playing well as a team lately and they travel to Baden-Württemberg off the back of a six-game unbeaten streak which has lifted Dieter Hecking's side up to sixth in the table. However, the coach does not expect things to be easy against a side ten positions and 12 points in their wake. "This is a team who play high-octane football," Hecking said. "We're going to have to be at our very best if we are to be successful in this game. We're going to have to keep our cool in possession to find the right solutions."
Hecking is not reading too much into Freiburg's back-to-back defeats either. "They've made a really positive development in recent weeks and it's up to us to ensure they don't carry that on against us," he said. Freiburg were "the better team" against both Gladbach and Leverkusen, in Hecking's eyes: "They put their opponents under a lot of pressure and we've got to be ready for that."
Hecking may be able to welcome Ja-Cheol Koo back into his side with the South Korea international, fresh from learning his nation's , back in full team training. Koo's last appearance came in the club's last defeat – a 2-0 loss at home to Eintracht Braunschweig – before he tore ankle ligaments while on international duty in mid-October.
Freiburg: Baumann - Sorg, Diagne, Höhn, Günter - Ginter, Höfler - Coquelin, Pilar - Darida - Mehmedi
Wolfsburg: Benaglio - Ochs, Naldo, Knoche, Rodriguez - Luiz Gustavo, Medojevic - Diego, Arnold, Caligiuri - Olic