SC Freiburg are back. Following relegation from the Bundesliga in 2014/15, the south-western club bounced straight back up to Germany's top flight. Head coach Christian Streich did so by relying on a method tried and trusted at the Black Forest outfit: giving youth players a chance.
When Freiburg were relegated from the Bundesliga in summer 2015, few believed they would return there any time soon. 'Upheaval', 'reconstruction', and 'starting over' were all buzzwords used in any analysis of their situation – except by the decision-makers at the club. Instead, they continued to work in the same calm manner, and were ultimately rewarded for their coolness under difficult circumstances. Despite the large number of big teams floating around Bundesliga 2, Freiburg performed consistently well over the entire 2015/16 campaign and ended up winning the second division title by a five-point margin.
One of the most famous alumni of Freiburg's renowned youth system is defender Matthias Ginter, who became a full Germany international at the club before joining Borussia Dortmund, and was part of the triumphant 2014 FIFA World Cup squad. TSG 1899 Hoffenheim goalkeeper Oliver Baumann is another established Bundesliga player who started out at Freiburg, as is his team-mate Jonathan Schmid, and FC Schalke 04 duo Sascha Riether and Dennis Aogo.
In the Bundesliga, Streich, who was head of Freiburg's youth academy for many years, will again depend on the same core of players that won promotion, and will blend in the steady stream of youth players coming through. They will seek to ensure their survival with a bold, attacking style of play and will without doubt be a valuable addition to the league.