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PREVIEW | 1. FC Köln vs SC Freiburg

Ahead of tonight’s game at the RheinEnergieStadion, both FC Köln and SC Freiburg will be looking to build on relatively strong starts in the Bundesliga this season. Moreover, both sides can take encouragement for different reasons going into the game.

Freiburg, back in the Bundesliga after storming to promotion last season, have an excellent record against their hosts this evening, having won each of the last four in all competitions in a run which stretches back to 2011/12. Köln, however, will be looking to extend their unbeaten start to the season and a win would lift them to the top of the Bundesliga, albeit until Bayern Munich play on Saturday. Essentially, while long-term form favours the visitors, the hosts have yet to concede this season and will be a tough nut to crack.

Form

Köln began the season with a 2-0 victory over SV Darmstadt before holding Wolfsburg to a 0-0 draw. As aforementioned, their defence has held steady – but they also aren’t pushovers in attack either, averaging the second most shots on average per game. However, the fact this has rendered just two goals so far will be a concern.

Freiburg, however, have had a mixed start to the season. A disappointing opening weekend defeat at Hertha Berlin was followed by an outstanding 3-1 win over Borussia Mönchengladbach. After conceding just before the break, they fought back through two goals from Maximilian Philipp before Nils Petersen made the game safe two minutes from time.

Team news

Köln are still without captain Matthias Lehmann and defender Dominic Maroh, however the good news is that Timo Horn may be available after picking up an injury in the first game. However, whether he will start is unclear; 20-year-old Sven Müller has proven an able deputy and may count himself unlucky not to be given the nod, especially if Horn’s recuperation isn’t 100% complete.

Freiburg themselves are without young Marc-Oliver Kempf, Marc Torrejón and loan attacker Florian Niederlechner. However, having coped so well last week it is unlikely they will be in any hurry to make major alterations to the starting eleven,

Possible teams

FC Köln (4-4-2): Timo Horn; Frederik Sörensen, Mergim Mavraj, Dominique Heintz, Jonas Hector; Marcel Risse, Marco Höger, Milos Jojic, Leonardo Bittencourt; Anthony Modeste, Yuya Osako

SC Freiburg (4-1-3-2): Alexander Schwolow; Pascal Stenzel, Manuel Gulde, Caglar Söyüncü, Christian Günter; Nicolas Höfler; Onur Bulut, Mike Frantz, Vincenzo Grifo; Maximilian Philipp, Nils Petersen

Prediction

Given the mix in form and confidence for both sides, this has the makings of an enthralling contest. However, this fixture also tends to favour the home side – and that’s why I think Köln have an excellent chance of ending their Freiburg hoodoo. It’ll be tight, but I foresee the hosts running out 2-1 winners.

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