Christian Streich’s Freiburg had to settle for second place in a Europa League group where their form was only bettered by defending UEFA conference league champions West Ham United.
In a group rounded off by TSC Backa Topola from Serbia and Greek heavyweights Olympiacos. Freiburg kickstarted their campaign with a 2-3 away victory in Greece. Maximilian Philip, Rolland Sallai, and Vincenzo Griffo’s penalty nullified Moroccan forward Ayoub El Kaabi’s brace for the Greek side.
Vincenzo Griffo continued his fine form with a hat-trick against TSC Backa Topola in their 3rd fixture following their 1-2 home loss to West Ham United, with goals from Lucas Paqueta and Nayef Aguerd. The German outfit continued their fine form with successive 5-nil victories in the home fixtures to TSC Backa Topola and Olympiacos Piraeus at the Europa-Park Stadion, with Michael Gregoritsch pegging a 36-minute hat-trick in the latter tie. Their group stage rounded off with a 2-0 defeat to West Ham United in London with first-half goals via Mohamed Kudus and Edson Alvarez.
French manager Franck Haise led RC Lens across their UEFA Champions League group stage campaign falling just one point short of PSV Eindhoven’s nine to secure a knockout berth. Fresh off losing club captain Seko Fofana to the pulling power of Saudi Arabian-based side Al-Nassr and 2022/2023 top scorer Ikoma Lois Openda to RB Leipzig. Elye Wahi arrived from Montpelier and now leads their attacking charge with Adrien Thomasson and Florian Sotoca. Notably, Wahi put in a man-of-the-match performance with a well-taken goal and assist against Arsenal in France.
However, they fell to a 6-0 defeat to the same side in their encounter in London, Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Jesus, Kai Havertz, Gabriel Martinelli, Martin Odegaard, and Jorginho all shared the goals on that occasion. They recorded 2 draws against Sevilla and PSV Eindhoven in their first-leg ties. In their game against PSV, former Barcelona man Luuk de Jong scored a header past Brice Samba in the Netherlands.
The French outfit ensured Sevilla FC will not be having any Europa League folklore this term with Angelo Fulgini’s 96th-minute winner ensuring Sergio Ramos’ 79th-minute panenka didn’t secure the Seville-based outfit a share of the spoils. Former Leicester City midfielder Nampalys Mendy, Left-back Faitout Maouassa from Club Brugge, Ruben Aguilar league rivals AS Monaco, Stijn Spierings, attacking midfielder Angelo Fulgini from FSV Mainz 05 all came in over the summer. Strengthening the club side following the departures of Jean Onana, Ikoma Lois Openda, Seko Fofana, and Alexis Claude-Maurice amongst others.
The head-to-head record shows that RC Lens and SC Freiburg have a record total of zero official games between them. This fixture will be a chance for either side to establish an advantage over their colleagues.
This enticing Europa League clash will be played at the Europa Park Stadion in Freiburg, Germany on the 22nd day of February 2024 with kick-off scheduled for 17:45 GMT.
The 34,700-capacity stadium is set to host what promises to be a thrilling encounter.
Getting tickets for the Freiburg vs RC Lens tickets could take a lot of work given the standard of this game. Hence, you are advised to search ticket reselling sites should they be expectedly sold out on each club’s channels.
Christian Gunther and Daniel-Kofi Kyereh are Freiburg’s long-term absentees with a broken arm and anterior cruciate ligament injuries respectively.
Ritsu Doan is also expected to have returned from Asian Cup duty with Japan. Chukwubuike Adamu joined from RB Salzburg in the off-season.
Still yet to secure a place in the first XI at the expense of the in-form Italian forward Vincenzo Griffo and Austrian topman Michael Gregoritsch up top. Alongside Maximilian Philip and Lucas Holer, Adamu will battle it out for the remaining attacking slots in Christian Streich’s lineup in a bid to regain the form that saw him picked up from the Austrian-based club side.
Matthias Ginter returned to his boyhood club in the summer of 2022 after time with Borussia Dortmund, and Borussia Monchengladbach, and years of experience with the German national team. He currently sits at the base of their defence and is partnered by the aged Manuel Gulde, their defence should be in safe quarters. Maximilian Eggestein and Roland Sallai remain vital cogs and mainstays in the midfield
Freiburg XI: Atubolu; Makengo, Gulde, Ginther, Sildillia; Eggestein, Rohl; Grifo, Sallai, Doan; Gregoritsch
Recently capped French goalkeeper Brice Samba and new club captain will undoubtedly lead the backline with Jonathan Gradit, Facundo Medina and Kevin Danso. Danso, involved with Napoli as a potential replacement for the departed Kim Min Jae, will likely complete the defensive unit.
Polish wing-back Przemyslaw Frankowski remains a major creating force and should be joined by Faitout Maouassa on the opposite flank. Elye Wahi should retain his striking spot while Florian Sotoca, Angelo Fulgini, David Costa, and Adrien Thomasson round off the offensive options for the French-based side.
Lens XI: Samba; Medina, Danso, Gradit; Maouassa, Diouf, Aynaoui, Frankowski; Sotoca, Wahi, Thomasson.
It is likely to be a keenly contested tie between both sides and it’ll come down to whichever side has the tenacity to grind it out over both legs. In a tie, that’s no history between them, there’s all to play for out there in February from both sides.
Freiburg 2-1 RC Lens