Freiburg’s incredible season continues with a 3-1 victory against Hamburg, securing their trip to Berlin. The hype leading up to the game was about Nico Schlotterbeck’s transfer to Borussia Dortmund, but this was another victory of collaboration.
In recent years, the Volksparkstadion in Hamburg has experienced two notable firsts. In 2018, Hamburg was relegated from the Bundesliga for the first time, and the renowned clock that tracked their tenure in the top division stopped ticking. Close to 60,000 home supporters were once again on the wrong side of history on Wednesday, as Freiburg stormed towards their first German Cup final in their 118-year history.
The big two have begun planning for next season by eyeing moves from other Bundesliga clubs, as is generally the case when German seasons near the home stretch. Widespread rumors in Germany on the day of the game claim that Borussia Dortmund and Freiburg center back Nico Schlotterbeck have agreed to terms for next season.
Any fears that this, or a partizan home crowd devoid of a major occasion for so long, would throw the Black Forest club off their game were swiftly dispelled when veteran striker Nils Petersen hooked in an 11th-minute header.
Eight minutes later, a deflected long-range effort from Nicolas Höfler, after some good team high pressing, made things comfortable. After Schlotterbeck was kicked in the neck on a surge forward, Vincenzo Grifo slotted away a penalty before the interval to make things even more safe. The second-tier hosts could only scrape a late Robert Glatzel consolation. “This is amazing; we are creating history,” a visibly moved Höfler stated after the game.
The three first-half scorers had almost 650 club appearances between them, and they, like long-serving head coach Christian Streich, have seen promising young players come and go. Last year, it was Luca Waldschmidt and Robin Koch, and the six years before that, it was Caglar Söyüncü, Roman Bürki, and Matthias Ginter. The club’s ethos has not changed.
“We’re all really at ease,” Grifo told DW earlier this year. “It’s a fantastic vibe, and we adore it: our supporters, the city, everyone loves Freiburg. And everyone who lives here is really supportive of us. When people meet you around town, they are all quite nice and supportive…the characters are all very excellent, so you can work pretty well here.”