Verdict: Freiburg win
Best Odds: 21/20
Two sides who will be looking to break into the European places on Saturday afternoon, Freiburg will welcome Hoffenheim to the Europa-Park Stadion.
Starting with the hosts, missing out on what they had billed as a golden opportunity last weekend as they eventually had to settle for a 0-0 stalemate at home against Union Berlin, Freiburg will be desperate to make a real statement here. Heading into Germany’s festive break with an action-packed 3-2 loss away at Heidenheim, Christian Streich’s men are seeking some recent stability. However, although the Reds might have recorded just a single win from any of their last four appearances across all competitions, Freiburg have gained a reputation for their rugged success on home soil. Punching a Europa League knockout stage ticket last month, Streich’s men are unbeaten in all of their previous six showdowns at the Europa-Park Stadion – a run that stems all the way back to a 2-1 loss against Premier League outfit West Ham on October 5th.
Away with Japan featuring at this month’s Asia Cup, Freiburg will be without 25-year-old Ritsu Doan. Likewise, all still dealing with respective injury issues, Streich’s men look set to be without the services of Christian Gunter, Daniel-Kofi Kyereh, Kenneth Schmidt and Max Rosenfelder this weekend.
However, after serving a one-match suspension against Union Berlin last week, 33-year-old Nicolas Hofler could make a full return on Saturday afternoon. One-time Borussia Dortmund star Matthias Ginter will partner Manuel Gulde at the heart of Freiburg’s defence here.
As for the visitors, although Hoffenheim might still be dreaming of the chance to book a famous European return this season, Pellegrino Matarazzo’s side are at the heart of a major rut. Marking their return from Germany’s festive break with a routine 3-0 drumming at the hands of defending champions Bayern Munich, the former Stuttgart boss has seen his squad muster just a single win from any of their previous nine straight showdowns against Bundesliga opposition – a run that stems all the way back to October 28th. Heading into Germany’s festive break with an action-packed 3-3 stalemate at home against Darmstadt, Hoffenheim have certainly shown some rather glaring issues at the back. Including a 3-1 loss against RB Leipzig last month, Saturday’s guests have shipped a trio of goals in all of their last three Bundesliga outings on the bounce.
Shown a pair of bookings during Hoffenheim’s 3-0 loss away at Bayern Munich last week, 29-year-old Grischa Promel will serve a one-match suspension here. Likewise, away with Mali at this month’s Africa Cup of Nations, Matarazzo will be unable to call upon former Salzburg midfielder Diadie Samassekou on Saturday afternoon.
Both still dealing with respective long-term knee injuries, the duo of Marco John and Mergim Berisha will not feature this weekend. Although ex-Manchester United loanee Wout Weghorst might have bagged just four Bundesliga strikes this season, the Dutch international should have a leading role to play here.
Key Factors to Consider
- When Saturday’s opponents met for their reverse Bundesliga meeting on August 19th, Freiburg picked up a 2-1 victory at the PreZero Arena.
- Freiburg are unbeaten in all of their previous six appearances at the Europa-Park Stadion.
- Hoffenheim have lost all of their last four away fixtures by an aggregate score of 9-2.
- Saturday’s guests have also won just one of their last nine appearances across all formats.
- Freiburg have shipped just a single strike in any of their previous five showdowns in front of their own supporters.
While Freiburg might have been disappointed after only collecting a 0-0 stalemate against Union Berlin last weekend, Saturday’s hosts should be smelling a potential opportunity here. Unbeaten in all of their previous six appearances at the Europa-Park Stadion, Streich’s side will also be excited by their reverse Bundesliga meeting against Hoffenheim. Landing a 2-1 victory when they travelled to Sinsheim back on August 19th, we are expecting a similar outcome this weekend.
Verdict: Freiburg win
Best Odds: 21/20