RB Leipzig may have taken plenty of headlines in the first half of the Bundesliga season but SC Freiburg, the other promoted team, also enjoyed an excellent start to the 2016/17 campaign.
Former 1. FSV Mainz 05 frontman Florian Niederlechner’s goals helped the Black Forest outfit climb to eighth in the table before the winter break. The 26-year-old spoke to bundesliga.com about his first full season in the top flight – and the prospect of facing league leaders FC Bayern München on Matchday 17.
bundesliga.com: In your first game after the winter break, you’ll be playing against Bayern. It could not be any worse, right?
Florian Niederlechner: There are certainly as many advantages as disadvantages if you think about the scheduling. It’s obviously nice to see how often the game will be talked about in the city. We’re definitely looking forward to Friday.
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bundesliga.com: As a native of the Munich area, do you know any of the current Bayern players personally?
Niederlechner: No, they don’t have anyone in their squad who was born in 1990 and grew up in Bavaria. But from my time at Unterhaching I know the brothers of Bastian Schweinsteiger and Mats Hummels.
bundesliga.com: You moved from 1. FSV Mainz 05 to Freiburg about a year ago. How would you sum up how things have gone?
Niederlechner: It’s been exactly what I had hoped for at the time - that I would get to play a lot again, to score goals and to help the team get promoted. Even now in the Bundesliga it’s going well too. It was almost a perfect year here in Freiburg.
bundesliga.com: At the start of the season especially it was said that you were working hard, fighting and creating chances but not scoring. Now, however, you are doing that too...
Niederlechner: In Bundesliga 2 it went great but then I noticed first-hand what a huge difference there is again in the Bundesliga. Here you’re playing against [Mats] Hummels or [Javi] Martinez and also behind them on Friday will be the best goalkeeper in the world. But eventually I managed to score my first goal in Hoffenheim.
bundesliga.com: And then it clicked into place…
Niederlechner: And you start thinking, ‘maybe I can do it in the Bundesliga too.’