In this 3. Liga match day 11 clash, Rot-Weiss Essen thrashed a young SC Freiburg II squad 3-0. Despite suffering a tough loss to the struggling Essen-based club, Freiburg II fielded plenty of young talent. They ran a 3-4-3 system that turned into a flat 4-3-3 at times on offense and a 5-3-2 on defense. Freiburg II wanted to dominate possession, but due to avoidable mistakes that a young team will make at times, were dispossessed in their own third, creating pressure that led to three goals and a visibly dejected squad. It was not completely one sided, though, as Freiburg II was able to generate their share of chances, too, just not finishing them.
- A1 – Very good, could play higher
- A2 – Strong potential to play higher
- B1 – Good, strong player at level
- B2 – Potential to be a strong player at level
- C – Average for the level, rewatch
- D – Below average in this match
- Nationality: German
- Age: 20
- Date of birth: 05/07/2002
- Club: SC Freiburg
- Career: SV Babelsberg 03 (Y), FC Ingolstadt 04
- Position: Center Midfielder
- Preferred foot: Both
Merlin Röhl played 61 minutes in center midfield mainly on the right side. The summer signing from FC Ingolstadt stands at a lanky 192 cm that he uses well aerially. Röhl, who has a senior start already in the DFB Pokal, has below average pace and agility but knows how to use his length to make up for it. He has lots of room to fill out his thin frame, but he can already take the physicality of the senior game due to his understanding of his body and its positioning.
Röhl provided the offense with excellent distribution with either foot on intermediate passes, through balls, and line-breaking balls. His accuracy and touch on these passes were beautiful and easy for his teammates to handle on first touch or create into chances in and around the box. Although he is listed as two-footed, he favors the right, but that left foot is still very strong both with his confident dribbling and ball carrying. Röhl’s strength on the ball is put into question, though, when he faces physical pressure. He can be pushed off ball, especially when Röhl is not expecting the defender. He may need to work on his awareness, looking over his should before receiving a pass could be one way.
Off the ball, Röhl looks to find gaps in the defense to get open for teammates, then approaching the pass so no defender can touch it. Using his long frame to shield and have a wide radius to receive is quite the advantage for him in a crowded midfield. As the attack reached the final third, Röhl also got open using central forward runs toward the box. This both freed space for teammates and made danger atop of the box.
The center midfielder was not asked to provide much defensive coverage in this match before being subbed out, focusing most of his effort on the link up play, attack, and pressing. Röhl utilized his length to crowd opponents on the press and cause problems. His heading ability also helped to stop attacks that went to the air, as he towered over the midfield.
Rating – A2
Merlin Röhl showed the potential in this match that put a €3M price tag on his services over the summer, despite not having his best performance. Röhl has some plus athletic traits and creative abilities that will take some time to develop and/or grow into, but he should work himself into the Freiburg senior team given a season or two of development. His combination of size and vision make him a unique prospect to watch in Germany.
- Nationality: Belgian
- Age: 20
- Date of birth: 09/07/2002
- Club: SC Freiburg
- Career: Standard Liège
- Position: Right Wingback
- Preferred foot: Right
Hugo Siquet is a sturdy 180 cm tall right wingback that has gotten minutes with the senior team this season, just like Röhl. He played the full 90 minutes for the second team in this match and had some promising moments throughout. The young and offensive-minded Belgium U21 international has some decent pace and it showed on his way up and down the right flank.
Siquet is not the most suitable defender on the wing based on this performance. Although he played an advanced role, he did settle in a defensive back five at points during the match, so he there was more expectation on him than to just join the high press. Siquet encountered a few aerial opportunities with mixed results. He looked to clear and successfully did so, but also had a mistake once while trying to control a ball after a bad header, giving away possession at the top of the box leading to the first goal of the match. Siquet did display good positioning in this match, though. He stayed in good positioning to cover, and his intelligence in positioning allowed him to intercept a few over hit passes comfortably without tracking back. Siquet also closed down well in space and was able to put in a successful tackle when needed.
As an attacker, Siquet was constantly looking to be a threat. He looked swing in crosses with both the right and left foot to create danger in the box. These crosses made it in accurately with significant whip to them but got cleared several times. His array of passes were mostly accurate throughout this match, even working in his weaker left comfortably, contrary to some of his teammates that succumbed to the pressure. Siquet also made threatening runs down the right, some on the outside and more inverted. These resulted in a couple dangerous chances falling to him. The first was a long inverted solo run displaying his dribbling and ball carrying confidence with both feet. Siquet then shot from the edge of the box with his weak foot attempting to place the shot back post, but it was well saved. On the second occasion, it was a wide forward run where he received the ball over his shoulder in stride and was able to strike an accurate cross into the box. When in the final third, he would settle into an inverted position at wingback, allowing his winger to work the wide area. Here, Siquet found spaces in the defense to offer support to attackers.
Rating – A2
Hugo Siquet displayed valuable attacking quality out wide in this match. His defense is not without mistakes, but with the creative profile from the wing that he has, the defensive weaknesses can be tolerated. As a young player, these 3. Liga minutes will be important in improving his defense to a quality that can be relied on in Freiburg’s senior team.
- Nationality: German
- Age: 18
- Date of birth: 09/07/2004
- Club: SC Freiburg II
- Career: FC Rot-Weiss Salem (Y), RC Radolfzell (Y), VfB Stuttgart (Y)
- Position: Attacking Midfielder
- Preferred foot: Right
- Other Positions: Left Winger, Right Winger
Mika Baur subbed into the match at half time for more offensive firepower and started off at attacking midfielder before moving to the left wing after a triple sub in the 61st minute. Baur is a highly rated academy talent for Freiburg and made his fourth substitute appearance in 3. Liga this season after being promoted from the U19s this summer. At 172 cm tall he is notably small on the pitch and is not the most physically mature yet either. Baur did display high effort and activity and above average pace during this match.
The attacker is listed as two-footed, but almost exclusively used his right foot in this match. Baur’s passing ability with the right was quite smooth, though, and he had an accurate day distribution-wise. When receiving and carrying the ball, Baur was calm and collected against Rot-Weiss Essen. The confidence on ball against grown men was a promising sign. Baur did have a finishing opportunity from a Siquet cross, but his right-footed shot was blocked. Off ball, Baur got open with wide forward runs and by finding holes in the defense to expose. Although he did many of the right things, his teammates did not seem to trust him as much in attack. One reason for this is probably his awareness. In one instance he did not go back to receive a pass and it went behind him and a counter was started where Rot-Weiss Essen nearly scored. Baur also lost the ball due to indecisiveness. The hesitation in his game needs to be hashed out before he can start in 3. Liga.
Baur’s high effort showed up on what he was asked to do on the defensive end. He was mainly asked to press high and cut out passing lanes occasionally. When pressing high he was relentless and a pest, but this led to some over aggression and a foul. When rotating to cover on the counter, Baur was also able to make interceptions with his instincts, likely triggered by his high activity mindset. Baur even got up to compete for headers but his height surely hindered him.
Rating – B2
I have no doubt that with more minutes in senior football Baur will put together the attacking traits that have put him in the 3. Liga so early, but he looked out of his depth in this match. Based on his play here, it will be quite some time before Baur is ready for the Freiburg senior team and he probably needs minutes with the U19 squad to continue the promising development he displayed last season.