- Niederlechner has been at Freiburg for almost a year.
- In squad to face Bayern in Matchday 17 opener.
- Freiburg in eighth place after a strong start to 2016/17.
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.
Watch: The Bundesliga returns!
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.’
bundesliga.com: You have now scored five Bundesliga goals, and just before Christmas you got a brace in Ingolstadt.
Niederlechner: It could have been more given the chances I had but for my first real year in the Bundesliga it was quite decent. We can be totally satisfied as a team too.
bundesliga.com: That has not been publicly acknowledged much given that the team you were promoted alongside, Leipzig, are in second place. Does that bother you?
Niederlechner: No it really doesn’t. It’s maybe even quite a good thing that we’re flying under the radar a little bit so that we can work in peace. I still think that a few people have seen that by getting to eighth place we performed fantastically well in the first half of the season. Especially since the team is made up almost exclusively of young players.
Interview by Christoph Ruf