To know what Napoli, Milan, Liverpool, and the SC Freiburg have in common seems like the answer to a one-million-dollar question.
While the trio from Italy and England have been drawing international attention for decades, the German side is mostly gliding below the radar.
But currently, all four clubs are the only unbeaten teams in the top European leagues. Freiburg for a good reason stands out as being rather exotic among the collection.
Far from consistent international glory, the small club is a shining example of an alternative draft as today’s football seems stuck in an identity crisis. Player’s salaries seem to explode as investments of foreign investors do the same.
Despite being relegated several times, the club preserved a remarkable resilience and never gave up its principles.
At present, Freiburg is back in the headlines. Not because of the similarity with Napoli, Milan, and Liverpool, but because the side collected 22 points after 10 rounds of matches in the Bundesliga.
This means they will meet league leader Bayern in the league’s top act this weekend as third of the table. Freiburg’s upswing is no surprise, but it includes acting calmly when setbacks hit the club. To be small but competitive seems the general rule. The club stands for a policy far from measures of an often overheated market in football. Briefly, the club follows the proven pattern to educate young players, count on the same coach over many years, and keep his leadership board steady.
In December, Christian Streich is crossing the 10-year-line as head coach after he worked for the side for over 25 years in various coaching positions. The club is a safe haven for players not among the world of glittering stars but providing the chance to slowly develop.
Streich’s demand to play a passionate and energy-taking football comes along with his mantra to form a team of companions caring for each other. Moving to a new arena after over 50 years indicates, the club has meanwhile gained ground. Having outpaced clubs like Bielefeld, Furth, Cologne, Hamburg, and others seems no reason to worry.
“We might have special soft skills as players can feel comfortable, but at the same time know there is no reason to rest,” Streich explained.
Like the coach, the club is employing players who have been with the side for several years, some even came back after being unhappy with other clubs. Many developed into their countries internationals at a young age. Facing Freiburg has turned into an unpopular issue as the team delivers a fight until the final whistle.
“We play football because we love it,” the coach added. Ahead of the away game in Munich, no one is talking about the chance to qualify for the Champions League. Protagonists keep on talking about securing their place in the first tier.
“We talk about the possibility to win the game because we can, but not about the Champions League,” defender Lukas Kubler commented. “If we start with bold dreaming, it might go wrong.”
The unbeaten status might as well end this weekend. But no one in Freiburg is concerned, while mentioned along with Napoli, Milan, and Liverpool that might be the most significant difference.