SC Freiburg misses victory in the Lens cauldron

Defied the northern French cauldron: SC Freiburg preserved its chances of reaching the round of 16 of the Europa League with a courageous performance at RC Lens. In the first leg of the second round, coach Christian Streich’s team fought to a 0-0 draw and will go into the second leg next Thursday in a good position.

The Breisgauers showed the reaction they had hoped for when they were relegated from the Champions League at home after three recent league defeats in a row. SC captain Christian Günter also had reason to be happy: After months of suffering due to a broken arm, the national player was in the Europa League squad for the first time this season, but remained unused.

Lens was a “top team,” Streich had said in advance, while Günter expected a “huge chunk.” In the frenetic sea of ​​flags at the Stade Bollaert-Delelis, the SC coach surprised both systematically and in terms of personnel: Freiburg relied on a three-man chain with Yannik Keitel in the center, with the recovered Manuel Gulde starting on the left. Ritsu Doan and Merlin Röhl, who was suspended in the Bundesliga, returned to the starting line-up, while Vincenzo Grifo took a seat on the bench.

VAR saves SC Freiburg

And Streich’s adjustments paid off. Lens struggled and there were no compelling chances in the early stages. The sports club felt their way forward for the first time through Doan (14th), shortly afterwards the 2,000 SC fans who had traveled with them had the scream of goal on their lips: Rolland Sallais (20th) powerful right-footed shot from an acute angle hit the crossbar.

A wake-up call – also for the French, who briefly appeared more dangerous in front of Freiburg keeper Noah Atubolu’s goal. Both sides switched quickly again and again, but there were no goals until the locker room.

The game continued without substitutions, and the SCF remained wide awake: a direct pass from Sallai (49′) was cleared by RC goalkeeper Brice Samba for a corner, then central defender Kevin Danso saved against Maximilian Eggestein (58′).

Freiburg’s opening goal was in the air, and the guests also continued the first half defensively. Lens acted without ideas, but cheered briefly. But Massadio Haidara’s supposed opening goal (70th) was canceled due to an offside position.