Freiburg vs. Hannover: Final score 3-1, Jonathan Schmid shines then commits to the club

Alex Grimm

Freiburg beat Hannover on Friday to move level on points with Schalke for the final Champions League position.

It's been a very up-and-down week for SC Freiburg.

The week started on Saturday with a victory over Hamburg to keep pace with Schalke for the final Champions League place. Midweek, Daniel Caligiuri was again linked with a move to Wolfsburg (Which, he is likely to make.), and Max Kruse confirmed that he was leaving the club and moving to Borussia Mönchengladbach in the summer.

As Friday's match against Hannover drew closer, the realization that the club were in a fight for European competition in the 2013-14 season. However, it's not just a spot in the Europa League. The Black Forest club are in prime position to compete for a place in next season's Champions League. A win against Hannover, a club that were in desperate need of points to keep pace with the Europa League challengers, would put immense pressure on Schalke to get a result on Saturday against Bayer Leverkusen.

Kruse didn't let his recently-announced summer move distract him and was lively early, testing Ron-Robert Zieler in the Hannover goal several times. The midfielder was unable to find the goal in the first twenty minutes, and Christian Schulz had seen enough. The Hannover defender focused on an incoming cross from Jonathan Schmid and put the next ball he touched into the back of the net. Issue: It was his net. In fact, the own goal made me laugh out loud. Here's a video of it.

A little more than ten minutes later the match was level. Mame Biram Diouf pounced on a header from Pavel Krmas before Zieler. With the goalkeeper in "no man's land", the Senegalese forward squared the ball back to Konstantin Rausch who finished first time. Unfortunately for the 96ers, Freiburg would strike back before the end of the first half. Kruse finally found the back of the net and made it 2-1 in the 44th minute to give Freiburg some breathing room heading into the half. Schmid's cross found the midfielder at the top of the Hannover penalty area, and he smacked a quick shot past Zieler.

Schmid was unable to beat Zieler multiple times as the goalkeeper coming up with several key saves to keep the Frenchman from scoring. His great performance was continued in the 73rd minute with a goal of his own. Caligiuri put a shot off the post, and Schmid scored the rebound to make it 3-1 and put the match out of reach.

After the match, Schmid capped his performance and improved Freiburg's hopes for next season by announcing that he would be staying in Freiburg.

Freiburg are now level on points and goal differential with Schalke for the fourth Champions League place for next season. If Schalke lose to Bayer Leverkusen tomorrow, Freiburg will be all alone in fourth place. The rise of the club under energetic manager Christian Streich has been nothing short of meteoric. When he took over last winter, Freiburg were sitting at the bottom of the Bundesliga table. Now, with only five matches remaining in the 2012-13 Bundesliga season, Freiburg are within reaching distance of playing against Europe's elite.

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