Christian Streich, without the injury concerns which FC currently possess, was able to rotate his squad almost completely following draw against Qarabag on Thursday. Christian Günter was the only player to remain in the starting line-up following the return from Azerbaijan.
Steffen Baumgart made four changes to the side that started last time out against Nice. Benno Schmitz, Luca Kilian, Eric Martel and Linton Maina replaced Kingsley Schindler, Timo Hübers, Denis Huseinbasic and Sargis Adamyan.
Freiburg started the stronger of the two teams. Marvin Schwäbe had to be alert early on to deny Vincenzo Grifo from close range, palming his curling shot to safety. Moments earlier, it was Luca Kilian who got his body in the way of a dangerous Christian Günter drive. Schwäbe then produced two vital stops, getting down to push away Ritsu Doan’s slippery shot before standing up and parrying Michael Gregoritsch’s follow-up.
FC finally began to get into the game after Florian Kainz picked up on a loose ball from Mark Flekken. The Dutch goalkeeper was able to atone for his error, however, and got down well low to his left to beat away Kainz’s squirming shot. Kilian again made another important block to keep out Lukas Kübler on the overlap, as the affair began to open up towards the end of the half.
Baumgart’s charges had the best two openings late in the first period. The first fell to Steffen Tigges, as he glanced Florian Kainz’s corner to the back post where no-one was able to tap home. The second opportunity was granted to Ellyes Skhiri. The Tunisian midfielder scooped over Linton Maina’s low cross six yards from goal.
The second-half began with both teams unchanged. Freiburg started the better, however. They were rewarded for their pressure, too. A long ball forward found Michael Gregoritsch and Wooyeong Jeong in a two-on-two with Nikola Soldo and Luca Kilian. The Austrian forward managed to drive into space and play in his attacking colleague, who produced a fine finish from 18 yards, catching the inside of the post to leave Marvin Schwäbe helpless.
The hosts doubled their lead 10 minutes later but only after Flekken denied Linton Maina one-on-one. Freiburg made FC pay, as Christian Günter was given space to cross and Gregoritsch time to head home unmarked from six yards out. A one-two punch that FC wouldn’t be able to recover from.
FC are next in action on Wednesday evening against Bayer Leverkusen. Kick-off at the RheinEnergieSTADION is at 18:30 CET.
SC Freiburg (4-2-3-1): Flekken – Kübler, Ginter, Lienhart, Günter – Eggestein (Keitel 90+1‘), Höfler – Doan, Jeong (Schade 82‘), Grifo – Gregoritsch (Höler 82‘).
1. FC Köln (4-2-2-2): Schwäbe – Schmitz, Soldo, Kilian, Pedersen – Skhiri, Martel (Olesen 89‘) – Duda (Huseinbasic 72‘), Kainz (Schindler 72‘) – Maina (Thielmann 72‘), Tigges (Adamyan 63‘).
Goals: 1:0, Jeong 53‘. 2:0, Gregoritsch 64‘.
Referee: Florian Badstübner (Nürnberg).
Booked: Schindler (90+2’).