The refrain coming from SC Freiburg is that this offseason was less tumultuous, and they are ready for a much better season in the Bundesliga. The reality is that they lost two major players and did not add enough. Manager Christian Streich is known for developing youth players, and he will have to show those skills this year with a team averaging less than 24 years of age.
The quality on the field may be too poor for Streich’s coaching to overcome. A steady decline from a top-five finish two years ago will make Freiburg a relegation candidate.
Europa League play may have worn on Freiburg as it took them 11 matches to win their first league match. In the end, they finished nine points clear of the drop zone despite losing their final two games. They did earn points from seven of their last 10 matches to escape the bottom three. Die Breisgauer were not prepared for European competition, and it showed by their inconsistent play.
Baumann’s exit means that two new players are fighting for the starting job. Roman Burki came over from Club Zurich while Sebastian Mielitz moved over from Werder Bremen. Mielitz has Bundesliga experience, which may give him the edge, and he was the starter for Freiburg’s recent DFB Pokal match against Eintracht Trier. To this point, the claim to fame for Mielitz is saying that Youtube helped him stop a penalty from Bastian Schweinsteiger in the Telekom Cup.
Former Benfica center-back Stefan Mitrovic will be the replacement for Ginter. Marc-Oliver Kempf has seen some playing time in preseason with Immanuel Hohn injured, and the plan for Fallou Diagne unclear. Oliver Sorg and Christian Gunter remain at the outside back positions from last season.
Captain Julian Schuster will be in the defensive midfield. Mike Frantz, Felix Krauss and Jonathan Schmid are among those who will work on the wings. Vladimir Darida could also see time in a revolving four-man midfield. Caleb Stanko could see also some playing time. He is firmly in the future plans for the USMNT. He signed his first professional contract back in May, and played on the U-20 team for the U.S. He hopes to make his breakthrough with the senior team shortly.
Karim Guede is expected to partner with Admir Mehmedi. Mehmedi decided to make his loan move permanent after a successful season last year. He will be the key player all season for Freiburg. Maximilian Philipp has been given some playing time in the preseason.
Freiburg have had a lackluster preseason with losses to Torpedo Moskva and Stade Rennais. The underwhelming performance points to another disappointing year. The lack of a stable defense and midfield will lead to many different starting lineups. They did have a successful first round of the DFB Pokal, but that success should not last.
2014-15 record: 6-7-21, 25 points, 17th place