Christian Streich didn't want to go public with the players' brash declarations of war - and yet the SC Freiburg coach encouraged his protégés in their dream of the Champions League after jumping to fourth place.
"The boys are young and hungry, they should always say what they think. They should think beforehand and not say stupid things. But they have their own opinions. And if they say they want to stay up there, then I hope so , they also know what it means to be in such areas. I will measure them by that," said Streich after the 1-1 draw at FSV Mainz 05.
Battle for the premier class
Unbeaten in six Bundesliga games, the Breisgauers are in a brilliant position with 46 points despite the triple burden so far this season and want to fight for the historic entry into the premier class with full conviction after the international break.
"Of course it's a goal when you're up there nine games before the end of the season that you stay there. That's also our aim now," said SC captain Christian Günter. Lucas Höler also left no doubt as to where the path should lead. "We're up there after a great Europa League trip and now we want to defend it somehow," confirmed the offensive player.
Streich is not surprised that his protégés have developed a taste for it and want to play internationally again next season, nor is the fact that the team keeps pushing their limits. "It has a lot to do with the fact that many players have never had such a European Cup trip before. And if you have a sense of achievement there, it motivates you brutally and gives you a lot of positive energy. That helps," said the 57-year-old football teacher to sustained sporting high-altitude flight.
Streich: "Team deserves praise"
Only three days after losing the Europa League against Juventus Turin, SC also held their own in Mainz and were only robbed of victory at the last second after Ritsu Doan had taken the lead (55th minute). Streich didn't want to complain about Karim Onisiwo's late goal. "I don't feel like getting angry. We took a point and did everything we could. The team deserves credit for that performance," he said.
After the game, many players swarmed to their national teams, which worries Streich a bit. Because before the hot end of the season he would have preferred a regeneration phase for the top performers. "I hope everyone comes back healthy," said the SC coach.
No wonder, as there are still a number of tough chunks waiting for his team in the fight for Europe, such as Bayern Munich, Union Berlin, RB Leipzig, VfL Wolfsburg and Eintracht Frankfurt. "We still have very difficult tasks ahead of us. It will then be seen whether we can really get involved up there or whether we are still missing something," said Captain Günter and added: "As of now we are there. We are happy about that and give give us a lot of strength week after week." In any case, Freiburg will not vacate the Champions League spot without a fight.