Soccer-Freiburg eye Champions League while players defect
DORTMUND (Reuters) - Bundesliga minnows Freiburg are in contention for a Champions League spot but coach Christian Streich is already planning next season's relegation battle as his players are lured away by bigger clubs.
With four games to play, Freiburg travel to newly-crowned champions Bayern Munich on Saturday knowing a point or more against the Champions League semi-finalists would keep them in contention for a qualification round spot for Europe's elite club competition.
Freiburg have created their own little miracle this season, playing an exciting brand of football to climb to fifth, a point behind Schalke 04 who occupy the final Champions League spot.
The 47-year-old Streich took over in December 2011 and quickly turned the outfit into one of the most exciting to watch, staying true to his motto that "football should be fun".
There are not many things in football that make Streich happy these days despite the prospect of European action next season, a rarity for Freiburg.
Bigger clubs have been swooping on the sleepy southwestern German town, snatching player after player for next term.
Freiburg top scorer Max Kruse has already joined Borussia Moenchengladbach while Jan Rosenthal has signed for Eintracht Frankfurt.
Sports director Dirk Dufner joined Hanover 96 days ago, while Daniel Caligiuri is linked with a move to VfL Wolfsburg and fellow midfielder Johannes Flum is seen joining Frankfurt. Teenager Matthias Ginter could also be on his way out.
"I am already thinking about how I can get a team together to stay in the top division next season," Streich, whose side have lost their last two matches, said in his trademark heavy regional accent.
Alarmed by the rate of departures, Streich knows he cannot stop players from one of the Bundesliga's smallest clubs aiming higher.
Bayern already clinched the title weeks ago and with a Champions League second leg at Barcelona next week after the German side won the first leg 4-0, coach Jupp Heynckes is expected to rest several key players.
The Bavarians, however, will be looking to set a new points record for a season after equalling the best mark of 81 points last week.
Dortmund, also with one foot in the Champions League final after crushing Real Madrid 4-1 in their semi-final first leg on Wednesday, take on struggling Fortuna Duesseldorf with the Champions League spot for next season already in the bag.
(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Sonia Oxley)
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