Freiburg vs RB Leipzig: Preview and Prediction
As the 2022-23 German football season is nearing its end, we are now left with only four combatants battling for the country’s premier cup competition DFB-Pokal.
This edition of the German Cup was a special one as this was the only second instance since 2007 when the quarter-final round consummated without the appearance of Bayern Munich or Borussia Dortmund. The first semi-final clash between Freiburg and RB Leipzig will be held at the home of Breisgau Brazilians, Europa-Park Stadion this Wednesday.
Both of the combatants are having a fine run in the 2022-23 German top-flight league and have managed to stay in the top seeds of the points table throughout the season. Freiburg is currently fourth in the Bundesliga race while the Red Bulls are right behind them in the third position with a deficit of just 2 points.
The ‘Firebrand’ gaffer Christian Streich and his boys missed out on the German Cup glory from the shortest distance previously but ought to achieve it in this edition. Their DFB-Pokal journey commenced with the first two games going into added extra time; however, they settled down soon and went on to knock out the heavyweights Bayern Munich in the quarter-final clash at Allianz Arena.
After winning their first major club honor in the last edition of the same competition, the Saxony Whites are determined to have a successful title defense campaign. The Red Bulls kick-started their title defense campaign with a thumping 8-0 triumph over the fourth-division side Teutonia Ottensen which also remains their biggest win of the season.
The Breisgau Brazilians knocked out the most decorated German club Bayern Munich after the successful penalty conversion from Lucas Holer in injury time. Freiburg travelled to Cologne to face the Köln side in their most recent league appearance and returned home having all three points in the bank. It was the Japanese winger Ritsu Doan whose 54th-minute winner kept them on the winning side of a 1-0 scoreline.
On the other hand, Leipzig will be also turning up for this forthcoming contest with high spirits after edging past Hoffenheim by 1-0 to stay alive in the UCL qualification race. The Saxony-based outfit is hunting big guns at immense ease and has eliminated the likes of Borussia Dortmund and Hoffenheim in the last two cup games. The Red Bulls are thriving on a dominant run after scoring 17 and conceding only a solitary goal in the campaign till now.
These two German combatants have squared off against each other only 16 times across all competitions to date and Leipzig is leading the head-to-head record of those encounters by 8-4. The Red Bulls are also having an unbeaten run of seven games over their counterparts as the last Freiburg victory came back in 2019.
The previous edition of DFB-Pokal ended with these two sides locking horns for the final encounter which turned out to be a memorable one as the scoreline remained 1-1 at the end of extra-time. It was followed by a penalty shootout which led the Leipzig Whites to accomplish their first-ever DFB-Pokal glory.
The most recent chapter of this intense rivalry was staged on Matchday 14 of the 2022-23 Bundesliga season at Red Bulls Arena. The home team proceeded to extend their unbeaten run against Freiburg on a final scoreline of 3-1 and claimed three points to barge into the Top 5.
The German stalwart Maximilian Eggestein along with the winger Roland Sallai returned to action against Köln serving a one-match suspension and will continue to lead the midfield department.
Despite rumors of Ritsu Doan’s illness roaming around, the Japanese sniper went on to score the winning goal and is likely to feature in the Freiburg starting lineup once again. The 27-year-old versatile attacker Daniel-Kofi Kyereh who suffered a knee injury in February 2023 remains the only missing piece from the Breisgau Brazilian puzzle.
The Hungarian attacking sensation Dominik Szoboszlai missed the recent Hoffenheim fixture for receiving two yellow cards in a match earlier and will be resuming his playmaking responsibilities.
Szoboszlai can directly barge into the Leipzig starting XI replacing the Swedish attacking midfielder Emil Forsberg at the front. Yussuf Poulsen is yet to receive any minutes since making his return from injury a week ago as the Danish striker will be pushing for a substitute appearance to get back in action.
Predicted Starting XIs
SC Freiburg (3-4-3): Mark Flekken; Lukas Kübler, Matthias Ginter, Manuel Gulde; Kilian Sildillia, Maximilian Eggestein, Höfler, Günter; Ritsu Doan, Michael Gregoritsch, Vincenzo Grifo
RB Leipzig (3-4-2-1): Janis Blaswich; Lukas Klostermann, Willi Orban, Josko Gvardiol; Mohamed Simakan, Konrad Laimar, Kevin Kampl; David Raum; Timo Werner, Dominik Szoboszlai; Christopher Nkunku
The Red Bulls have greater on-paper strength while their head-to-head record and current form than their counterparts. Christian Streich and the team management must counter the aggressive playstyle of Leipzig with the same intent or otherwise, we may have to spectate another one-sided saga.
Hence, Leipzig stands on brighter chances to emerge victorious from this contest and make their second consecutive DFB-Pokal appearance.