Average attendance: 23,017 (17th)
Number of sell outs: 10 (9th)
Top scorer: Papiss Demba Cissé (22)
Most assists: Felix Bastians (5)
Red cards: 2 (Krmas, Toprak)
Most minutes: Cedric Makiadi – 2900
After narrowly avoiding relegation to the second tier in 09/10, SC Freiburg looked set for a tricky second season in the top flight. There was only a small turnover in players, Mo Idrissou being the highest profile departure but otherwise Robin Dutt was looking to build on the experience his young side accumulated in their debut Bundesliga campaign.
Despite an opening day loss to newly-promoted St Pauli, Freiburg began the season well, lying 6th going into the winter break. However, an early season injury to Stammtorwart Simon Pouplin would have been of great concern – Pouplin was arguably player of the season in 09/10 and his loss could have been a big problem. Step forward Oliver Baumann. The 20 year old keeper more than filled Pouplin’s boots and has since firmly established himself as first choice between the sticks for Germany’s U21 side.
However, the key man in Freiburg’s season was undoubtedly Papiss Demba Cissé. The Senegalese striker had disappointed originally after signing in January 2010, missing some simple chances and casting doubt on the record fee paid for him. Boy did he prove his critics wrong though. Cissé ended the season as the Bundesliga’s 2nd top scorer behind Mario Gomez, scoring 22 goals in the lone striker role. Having now alerted the whole of Europe to his ability, hanging onto Cissé this summer could be beyond Freiburg.
As strong as Freiburg were in the first half of the season, their form in the Rückrunde was dire with only the eventual Absteiger Eintracht Frankfurt and St Pauli outdoing them in the dreadfulness stakes. Then again, once the dreams of a European place subsided, you could argue that SCF had little left to play for and that a drop in performance levels can be understood. Freiburgers were happy with their season as a whole however, exceeding expectations of another relegation battle and in the meantime earning the unofficial title of Landesmeister – the fans were delighted to finish above Baden-Württemberg rivals Stuttgart and Hoffenheim.
What does for the future hold for Freiburg though? Changes are afoot in the Breisgau, with Trainer Dutt leaving to replace Jupp Heynckes at Leverkusen – Ömer Toprak is also heading to the BayArena. Taking the reins at the Badenova Stadion is current SC Freiburg II coach, Marcus Sorg, an appointment made with continuity in mind. Sorg has worked with a lot of the existing players as they graduated through Freiburg’s youth academy. The biggest challenge facing Sorg must be retaining the services of Papiss Demba Cissé. Losing their star man would spell trouble for SCF as they were heavily reliant on Cissé – he scored over half of their 41 goals.
That said, the system appears to be built around Cissé and they could change from their 4-1-4-1 formation should he move on, and Kisho Yano and Stefan Reisinger would be required to up their game. It will be an interesting summer for Sorg and constrained by the finances that come with having one of the smallest stadia in the Bundesliga, it will be difficult for him to even replicate the achievements of the outgoing Dutt, let alone better them.
Player of the season: Papiss Demba Cissé
Hardly an original choice, but Cissé’s contribution over the course of the season was unrivalled in the Freiburg side. Cissé scored a record number of Bundesliga goals for an SCF player and his 22 goals played a huge role in their most successful season in a decade. Cissé is widely coveted, and Wolfsburg were just one side who almost made a move for him in January. With a contract until 2014 though, Sporting Director Dirk Dufner has insisted Cissé will command a huge fee.
Ever dependable at left-back, Bastians has come a long way since spending his formative years in England – his early CV is a who’s who of English lower league football. Bastians joined Nottingham Forest at 15 before spending loan spells at Northwich Victoria, Halifax Town, Gillingham, Chesterfield and Notts County. Since joining Freiburg from Young Boys of Bern, Bastians has made the left-back spot his own and also offers an attacking threat. However, with just a year left on his contract, which Bastians has already announced he won’t be extending, it might be time for Freiburg to cash in.
The young keeper has not let anybody down in the absence of the injured Simon Pouplin and is fully deserving of his place between the sticks. His performances both in the Bundesliga and for the U21 national team have caught the eye of bigger clubs, but Freiburg are determined to see him develop in the Black Forest. With Pouplin likely to depart at the end of his contract in the summer, Baumann could be Number 1 for years to come. A prized asset.
Best signing: Jan Rosenthal
As previously mentioned, there was little turnover in players from the previous season, but of the new additions Rosenthal easily had the most impact. Signed from Hannover in the summer, Rosenthal was Freiburg’s 2nd top scoring, hitting the back of the net five times in 22 appearances. Injuries resulted in a stop-start season for Rosenthal, but he will hope to kick on next campaign with a full pre-season under his belt.
Season rating: B
A generally positive season that tailed off badly post-Christmas should not detract from the considerable achievement of more than comfortably avoiding ‘second season syndrome’.