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Europa League playoffs: Strong SC Freiburg gets a goalless draw in Lens

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Europa League playoffs: Strong SC Freiburg gets a goalless draw in Lens

As of: February 15, 2024 11:53 p.m

In the first leg of the second round of the Europa League, SC Freiburg played against RC Lens in France. Coach Christian Streich’s team fought for a draw.

SC Freiburg fought to a 0-0 draw against favorites RC Lens in the first leg of the second round of the Europa League. In front of a great European Cup atmosphere in the north of France, the Breisgau team had a good chance of even leaving the pitch as winners. Everything is still possible for the Streich team in the second leg in Freiburg.

SC coach Christian Streich made three changes to his team compared to the 3-0 loss at Borussia Dortmund last Friday: birthday boy Yannik Keitel started in a central position in a three-man chain. Kiliann Sildillia was still in central defense against Dortmund. Ritsu Doan and Merlin Röhl replaced the Italian Vincenzo Grifo and the Austrian Michael Gregoritsch on the offensive. The hosts’ coach, Franck Haise, sent out exactly the team that had beaten Racing Strasbourg last weekend.

Balanced start with a great atmosphere

In front of an electric atmosphere in the Stade Bollaert-Delelis, which was filled with 38,000 spectators, both teams gave nothing away in the early stages. So scoring chances were in short supply for the time being. After nine minutes, Florian Sotoca got the ball after a corner in the Freiburg penalty area. Lucas Höler was able to clear his attempt with his backheel into the goal. Noah Atubolu would also have been there in the Freiburg goal.

Five minutes later, Doan scored Freiburg’s first shot on goal. Lens goalkeeper Brice Samba was able to safely take his attempt from the edge of the penalty area (14th). The hosts had a little more share of the game in the first fifteen minutes, but the Breisgauers fully embraced the high intensity of the game.

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Sallai hits the bar after 19 minutes

So it wasn’t surprising that Freiburg had the first big chance of the game. Captain Maxi Eggestein passed the ball to Roland Sallai in the penalty area after Freiburg won the ball. His shot from an acute angle hit the crossbar (19th). A little later, Lens defender Massadio Haidara also shot from a tight angle in the Freiburg penalty area. Keitel was able to excel and blocked the Frenchman’s attempt with an impressive tackle (23′).

First half offers good chances on both sides

The game now swung back and forth and had opportunities on both sides: In the 25th minute, Atubolu was able to parry a sharp shot from Lens player David Costa for a corner (25th), and a little later Sallai missed a header on the other side freestanding. His shot landed next to the French goal (26th). Doan also missed the opening goal for the brave Baden team, as he stopped a long ball from Keitel in the opponent’s penalty area, but put the shot over the goal (36th). In a hard-fought first half, the sports club had the clearer chances to score.

Freiburg comes out of the locker room strong

As always, the half-time break ended in Lens with the club song “Le Corons”, which RC fans traditionally sing out of their close connection to French mining. A special goosebumps moment, certainly for the 2,000 guest fans who traveled along. They saw a strong phase from their team after the restart. The omnipresent Doan was sent to the baseline on the right in the 49th minute and found Sallai with his cross. The Hungarian was able to put the ball on goal from a tight angle, but Lens captain Samba parried the ball.

Eggestein fails from three meters – the lead for Lens is taken back

Maxi Eggestein missed the biggest chance of the game a little later: a header from Jordy Makengo was blocked and landed at the feet of the Freiburg captain. Three meters in front of the RC goal, he failed because of defender Kevin Danso’s leg (58′).

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After this great chance for Freiburg, the hosts became more courageous again and in the 70th minute the ball fidgeted in the Freiburg net. The supposed opening goal for Lens by Haidara was overturned by referee Bartosz Frankowski in collaboration with the video referee. Lens defender Przemyslaw Frankowski was clearly offside when the goal was scored.

The final quarter of an hour remains intense despite there being little danger of scoring

The final quarter of an hour then belonged to the favored hosts, who were only rarely able to convert their playful superiority into a goal threat during this phase. Streich remained courageous and brought in fresh offensive players with Grifo, Gregoritsch and Maximilian Philipp. Until the final whistle, the sports club was unable to gain another scoring opportunity.

The decision on who will advance will be made next week in Breisgau

For Freiburg, after the European Cup night on Sunday in the Bundesliga, it’s about ending their current lack of a win. Then the Streich-Elf meets Eintracht Frankfurt (3:30 p.m., live in the audio stream on Sportschau.de). The second leg against RC Lens will take place on February 22nd (6:45 p.m.) in Freiburg.

Broadcast on Friday, February 16, 2024 6:00 a.m., SWR Aktuell in the morning, SWR Aktuell

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