Two brilliant deeds: Ginter defies the festival of mistakes

Warnings recommending the wearing of hearing protection would certainly be appropriate in the stadium in Piraeus. When the curve of the Olympiakos supporters strikes up their battle cries and the whole stadium pulls along, the medically recommended decibel limit is easily exceeded. As in the 3-0-win last year, SC Freiburg seemed to be concerned about the health of the spectators on Thursday evening, as the otherwise vocal Greek crowd fell silent for long stretches of the game because of what was happening on the pitch.

The first half of the game is titled Error Festival. Vincenzo Grifo opens the scoring in the sixth minute. In his own penalty area, he plays the ball right into the opponent’s foot. Matthias Ginter saves on the line against Ayoub El Kaabi. The scene is symbolic of the 3-2 victory. Because both clubs made mistakes on the assembly line, but Freiburg ironed out his more often. “You could tell today that the spirit was right. Even if a mistake happened, even if something didn’t work, we threw everything into it and tried to make up for the mistake,” Ginter describes.

Schimdt’s understanding of justice

Just three minutes later, Nicolas Freire made the biggest mistake with a back pass that was too short – Roland Sallai took advantage of the situation to open the scoring. However, Kenneth Schmidt seems to find it difficult to reconcile the goal with his understanding of justice and sends out the identical invitation in injury time in the first half. The difference: Olympiakos does not accept them.

“It was unusual for three mistakes like that to happen in the first half, two on our side. I can’t explain it exactly,” Streich puzzles. After conceding nine goals against Stuttgart (0-5) and Dortmund (2-4), Freiburg’s backline is still looking for the usual stability. While Philipp Lienhart is still missing it, at least Ginter has shown his best game so far this season (kicker grade 1.5) and held together the ever-wobbly defense. Detailed hymns of praise for individual players are rarely heard from pranks after games. But he said it all in three words late at night in Piraeus: “Ginter, really good!”


Ginter clears a second time in front of the line

The 29-year-old radiated calm and sovereignty and presented himself with quick thought. The best example: With the score at 2-2, he saves again in the final phase on the line behind the already beaten goalkeeper Noah Atubolu. Only after the end of the scene does the referee decide on offside. However, Ginter’s return to his old strength alone is not enough to certainly score points again in everyday Bundesliga life. “We have our issues at the moment, especially on the outside they were able to hit too many flanks today, as well as the set-pieces. Conceding a goal from a corner is a bit of a drag on throughout the season. It’s up to all of us to defend our opponents as best we can until the ball is cleared,” Ginter stressed.

In retrospect, Atubolu may even have been happy about Schmidt’s aforementioned strike before the break. In a one-on-one, the recently criticised goalkeeper kept his nerve against Giorgos Masouras. “Noah holds it outstandingly. It’s extremely important for him that he had opportunities to excel,” says Streich. However, the new number 1 has not (yet) been able to shed the uncertainty that has been visible again and again. He was lucky several times on Thursday evening: Konstantinos Fortounis surprised him with a corner that was pulled directly onto goal with a lot of effet. The bar saves. Once a back pass slips under his foot and a not quite successful fist defense after a cross has no consequences either.


Philipp again on target

So not everything is running smoothly in Breisgau, but one cog is gradually meshing with the other. Well after midnight, the positive aspects outweigh the positives in the talks in the catacombs of the Karaiskakis Stadium for everyone involved: Maximilian Philipp once again showed himself to be an accurate joker, as he did in the Bundesliga on his SC comeback against Bremen, Vincenzo Grifo did not let himself be disturbed by a mixed performance and remained callous from the penalty spot – and SC Freiburg have now won four of six competitive games this season. The knowledge of having won, albeit with a bit of luck, at the in-form Greek league leaders, can give a boost to the self-confidence that has recently been scratched.

“To survive in Piraeus, here with this audience, that’s an achievement,” Streich sums up. In fact, the sports club made the difference in the moments when the stadium was roaring again and the Greeks sensed their chances. Ten minutes after the 1-1 Grifo scored, eleven minutes after the 2-2 Philipp.


Grifo silences the stadium.

At two o’clock in the night, the Freiburg team bus with a police escort rush through the city of 160,000 inhabitants on its way back to Athens. At least after the game, the hosts, who are well known for violent escalations, show themselves to be a fair loser. It remains quiet. During the game, there can be no question of fair play in the stands. But Grifo gives the right answer when he converts the penalty despite numerous laser pointers in his face – and silences the stadium.

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