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Feb 5, 2022 at 2.30pm UK
FC KolnFC Koln
Modeste (23')
Thielmann (65'), Ljubicic (68')
FT(HT: 1-0)

Woo-yeong (81'), Hofler (83')

Preview: FC Koln vs. Freiburg - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: FC Koln vs. Freiburg - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Saturday's Bundesliga clash between FC Koln and Freiburg, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

Two of the surprise packages of the Bundesliga season so far go head to head at the RheinEnergieStadion on Saturday, with FC Koln hosting Freiburg.

The hosts remain in the unexpected hunt for the European places in contrast to their usual struggles for survival, whilst the visitors remain in the mix for the Champions League spots despite their usual expectations of a mid-table finish.

Match preview

Koln return from the international break on Saturday following a slight blip in form prior to the two-week rest, when they were hammered 4-0 by leaders Bayern Munich, knocked out of the DFB-Pokal at home to 2.Bundesliga side Hamburger SV, and held to a 2-2 draw at newly-promoted VfL Bochum.

However, despite this, Steffen Baumgart's side occupy an impressive position of eighth heading into matchday 21, with just two points separating themselves from RB Leipzig in sixth.

The boss will not be in the dugout at the weekend though, after he tested positive for COVID-19 this week, but the former SC Paderborn manager has his Koln side well drilled and they will be fully aware of their duties on Saturday regardless.

As a result of Baumgart's methods this season, the Billy Goats have lost just five of their 20 Bundesliga fixtures to date, four of which have been against Bayern, second-placed Borussia Dortmund and European hopefuls Hoffenheim.

With 18 of their 29 points arriving on home soil as well, Koln continue to provide one of the toughest tests for opposing teams this season when playing in front of their own supporters, so they will certainly possess the confidence to return to winning ways on Saturday.

Meanwhile, after beginning 2022 by throwing away a two-goal lead in a disappointing 2-2 draw at home to relegation-threatened Arminia Bielefeld, and following that up with a 5-1 hammering at the hands of Dortmund, Freiburg reacted positively and provided a response in their two games that followed immediately before the international break.

Christian Streich's side comfortably dispatched Hoffenheim by a 4-1 scoreline away from home to reach the quarter-finals of the DFB-Pokal, before defeating rivals Stuttgart 2-0 back in the league, thanks to an own goal, and youngster Kevin Schade's second goal in as many games.

A worrying dip in form either side of the New Year has seen Freiburg drop out of the Champions League places following their best-ever start to a Bundesliga campaign, but on another positive note, they still occupy fifth in the table, with just a one-point gap to Union Berlin keeping them out of the top four as things stand.

Therefore, bar a disastrous finish to the season, the 2021-22 campaign looks set to be a memorable one for a side usually settling for a midtable finish come May each year.

Should they look to climb back into the top four during matchday 21 at the weekend though, Streich will be all too aware of the difficult task his side faces on Saturday against an opponent just as tactically organised and defensively stubborn as themselves.

This proved to be the case when these two sides met back in September, with a Rafael Czichos own goal being required in the final couple of minutes to earn Freiburg a 1-1 draw on home soil.

FC Koln Bundesliga form:
  • L
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • D

FC Koln form (all competitions):
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • D
  • D

Freiburg Bundesliga form:
  • L
  • D
  • W
  • D
  • L
  • W

Freiburg form (all competitions):
  • D
  • W
  • D
  • L
  • W
  • W

Team News

Koln could be without first-choice goalkeeper Timo Horn once more on Saturday after he tested positive for COVID-19.

However, Marvin Schwabe has impressed in the German's absence for large parts of this season so far, so he would have been expected to start in between the posts anyway.

Ellyes Skhiri is back in contention following his exploits with Tunisia at the Africa Cup of Nations, whilst Jannes Horn and Kingsley Schindler are slight doubts due to illness.

As for the visitors, right-back Lukas Kubler is the only injury concern to contend with on Saturday, after he picked up a hip injury last time out against Stuttgart before the break.

Manuel Gulde could deputise in defence should he miss out, in an otherwise unchanged side for Streich from the one that defeated their rivals 2-0.

Twenty-year-old Schade should keep his place in the side as a result of his goalscoring form before the break, meaning Woo-Yeong Jeong should have to settle for a place on the bench once more.

FC Koln possible starting lineup:
Schwabe; Schmitz, Kilian, Hubers, Hector; Skhiri; Kainz, Ljubicic, Schaub; Duda, Modeste

Freiburg possible starting lineup:
Flekken; Gulde, Lienhart, N Schlotterbeck, Gunter; Schade, Eggestein, Hofler, Grifo; Holer; Demirovic

We say: FC Koln 1-1 Freiburg

These two sides head into their clash with very similar styles and similar success so far this campaign, with both being so well organised and difficult to beat.

As a result, we are predicting for these sides to finish as they did in September, with a 1-1 draw to share the points in an evenly-matched encounter.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting over 2.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Over 2.5:data

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Bundesliga Table
1Bayern MunichBayern25192476274959
2Borussia DortmundDortmund24162664372750
3Bayer LeverkusenB. Leverkusen25136664402445
4RB Leipzig25125851292241
7Union BerlinUnion Berlin2510783233-137
8FC Koln249963638-236
9Mainz 0524104103529634
10Eintracht FrankfurtFrankfurt259793737034
11VfL BochumVfL Bochum2595112735-832
13Borussia MonchengladbachBorussia M'bach2576123451-1727
15Arminia Bielefeld25510102233-1125
16Hertha Berlin2565142658-3223
18Greuther Furth2535172364-4114
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