SC Freiburg, the seventh-place finisher of last season’s German Bundesliga started its qualifying campaign for the UEFA Europa League on Thursday night.
It was the first leg of the 3rd qualifying round and Freiburg was up against Slovenian Cup winners NK Domžale at home.
Unlike the German team, Domžale has already played several domestic and European matches this season.
Freiburg on the other hand, has only been in pre-season training for a few weeks. This showed early on, as the away side was the more active of the two in the first minutes.
The team from the Breisgau region found its feet after about 15 minutes, however and started creating chances, something their opponents had failed to do, despite their stronger start to the game.
In the 20th minute, a mishit strike by Christian Günter ended up in front of Nils Petersen, who gave SC Freiburg the 1-0 lead.
Just minutes later, a Slovenian player fouled Florian Niederlechner in the penalty area, but Domžale keeper Dejan Milic saved the spot kick that followed from Petersen.
That shows just how quickly the fortunes of a player can turn, even within minutes of a match. Nils Peterson, the former Werder Bremen and Bayern Munich striker, scored several penalty goals for Freiburg last season, but had famously also missed the decisive kick for Germany in the last Olympic final.
The home team continued to dominate the match overall, but Domžale sporadically also had opportunities.
Nevertheless, it stayed 1-0 at halftime and also at fulltime, after a second 45 minutes, which saw the Breisgau boys create many chances. Newly-crowned Under-21 European champion Janik Haberer came off the bench at the hour-mark and helped liven up the German team’s game.
SC Freiburg goes into next Thursday’s second leg in Slovenia with the narrowest of leads. One can only hope that they do not come to rue their many missed chances from this first leg.