Wednesday, May 27, 2020

What is wrong with Frankfurt?



It's real now.  The fans.....the players.......the coach.....the media, they are all beginning to speak the words that no club ever wants to speak: Relegation battle.  A year ago, the Eintracht supporters were seeking a way to battle into a Champions League position, and now they are hoping to simply stay up.  This year Eintracht Frankfurt have moved on from the Moody Diva, and have completely lost their footing and their way.  After 6 straight Bundesliga games resulted in 1 points The Eagles now sit 14th in the Bundesliga standings, only 5 points clear of the Relegation playoff position.  Qualifying for European Competition next year now resides on only one hope; winning the DFB Pokal (German Cup).  A team that was looking to make a push into a steady and consistent European Qualifier is now just hoping to stay out of the relegation zone.


But why has this team fallen? A team that captured the hearts of so many in last year's Europa League run that ended with an impressive hard fought loss to Chelsea?  There are so many reasons why.  These cogs don't mesh, and the once well oiled machine is now sputtering to a halt. While it's easy to point out that last years team included a Buffalo Herd that was sold off to the highest bidder, S.G.E. has much deeper routed problems than that. While the visible signs of what this team should be were all over the field on Tuesday's matchup against S.C. Freiburg, the overwhelming evidence of what this team is was also right there, slapping everyone in the face.  There are three huge mechanical breakdowns for Eintracht Frankfurt, which is holding them near the bottom of the Bundesliga Table and keeping them from getting results.  They lie far beyond Adi Hütter's tactics, or player selection.  This team has enormous problems on the field in consistency, quality, and discipline.  While the talent is there to be a mid-table club and challenger for Europe, there are also glaring holes in quality at key positions.  Here is a quick look at the three biggest issues that current squad must directly address.

(1) Defensive Compactness and energy:  There are quite a few reasons why defensive compactness is such a huge problem this year for Frankfurt this year.  The defense has absolutely been gashed in the Ruckrunde (second half of the season).  Injuries (Marco Russ, David Abraham) have limited their depth, as well as Makoto Hasebe's age.  This lack of depth has led to newly acquired Stefan Ilsanker playing heavy minutes in the back, without hardly any time to train and get into the squad.  The results have been poor. With Ilsanker manning the back line, Eintracht have given up 18 goals over the last five appearances.  The fault is not his own, but he is playing poor in 1v1 defense, losing his mark, and not playing balls in the air particularly well.  On Freiburg's first goal from Tuesday, Ilsanker allowed Grifo to easily move past him to the gaping hole in the middle of Eintracht's defense, and place one between himself and Makoto Hasebe.  While the ball ended up being a knuckleball off the backside of Hasebe, Ilsanker never closed down or created the pressure needed to disturb Grifo. With Hasebe being held by

Freshly substituted on Dominik Kohr also failed to get back and into position to cut off the ball carrier.  Ilsanker also got flat out beat by Niels Peterson on the second.  Peterson got inside Ilsanker and outran him to the ball. Ilsanker is not the any culprit by any means. Desperate to make plays, Martin Hinteregger is pushing further and further up the field, leaving himself and his teammates exposed in the back.  Hinteregger has been constantly chasing and out of position.  This leaves gaps in the back line, and in the midfield defense.

David Abraham and Evan N'Dicka have also been shaky and lackadaisical on ball since the return.  Abraham completely lost Alexandre Plea on Gladbach second goal on Matchday 26.   Eintracht has been soo poorly positioned, Bayern shredded them with timely runs and passing. The 4-1-4-1 Adi Hutter had used for several weeks was gashed time and time again as Eintracht could not stay compact, and was gashed to the tune of 5 goals. Bayern's first goal was a prime example of this.  All of it was set up by extremely wide lanes and poor marking.  As Jordy Alaba plays the ball forward to Ivan Perisic, there is soo much space both in front of, and behind Almamy Toure that Perisic simply decoys and plays the ball through.  Thomas Mueller ran into a gaping hole, virtually unchecked, and played the ball into the final third under almost no pressure.  Toure got no help, and had to race back to pick Mueller up, who then played a ball to the cavernous hole in the middle of the field, right in front of the net.  N'Dicka and Ilsanker did nothing to help pressure or play the ball, and while Leon Goretzka came flying in (also unchecked) to score the goal, two other Bayern attackers where also in position to do so.

 

Gelson Fernandes, lacking the pace to get back into the play, was also indecisive and playing no-man's land.  Unfortunately, he was playing like he hadn't played in several months.  While Adi Hutter has tried to adjust tactics, the players on the pitch must give better effort and have better tactical awareness.  They must close down with a purpose.  The midfield, which is pushing up in order to try to create chances, must get back and cover.  The gaps in the midfield are constantly being exposed.  Not just on shots such as Goretzka's, but on passes that that constantly matriculate the ball down field.  Other than Sebastian Rode, who terrorized Freiburg in the attacking third, the midfield has offered almost no resistance vs opposing attacks.  Teams have advanced the ball almost at will against The Eagles in the back end of the season, and especially through the middle.  The forwards, which where an enormous part of Eintracht,s press a year ago, have offered nothing.  Hutter ditched the 3-4-1-2 in order to install a dropping, more solid, 4-4-1-1 which worked for a time, including back to back wins over Hoffenheim and RB Leipzig in January.  But as teams adjusted to it, gaps where exposed and almost no decent chances could be created. While Eintracht ranks first in the league in tackles won, first in the league in shots saved, and in the middle of the pack in most defensive categories, the goals they have conceded since January reflect the gaps that they are leaving in their defense.

Goretzka finds open space, and the back of the net.

Eintracht ranks dead last in touches in the defensive penalty area.  They aren't consistently winning the ball back there, and when teams get the ball in that area, it typically means bad things for the White and Black.  Although Kevin Trapp has been fairly solid this year, the shots that he's facing make it impossible for him to keep the ball out of the net.

(2) Passing: Eintracht ranks 15th in the Bundesliga in passing percentage (74.4%). They rank 16th in short passing percentage (29.6%), 16th in medium passing percentage (83.0%) and 16th in deep passing percentage (63.4%).  They are tied for second most passes out of bounds (258) and tied for first in most passes blocked (427).  Eintracht ranks 16th in Receiving percentage (80.5%). Their best passer, Makoto Hasebe, has been used less and less as the season winds down and their second best passer, Lucas Torro, almost never plays.  Danny Da Costa has been abysmal in the short passing game (1/32), but has actually been near his marks from a year ago in every other passing category, and has almost all but lost his place in the squad rotation.  Eintracht simply cannot string passes together in any manner, much less a dangerous one.  During the Freiburg game, there was a glimpse of the highly creative, free wheeling offense that we saw from last year.  Bas Dost was winning the ball in the air, finding teammates on the run, and connecting play.  We also saw the mishaps which are plaguing the team this season.  Against Freiburg, Rode wins a ball just outside the penalty box creating a 2 v 1 with Dost.  Rode draws the defense, and fires a pass to Dost.  The pass is just behind Dost, who has to stop, take an extra touch, and fires a shot a foot wide of the goal post. It's a consistent, persistent year long problem, and something Hutter must address.


(3) Finishing: Tuesday vs. Freiburg, Eintracht created 34 shots, 16 of which where on target. That resulted in 3 goals. Eintracht ranks tied for third to last in Goals/Shots on Target (.28), behind Paderborn '07.  Daichi Kamada ranks last on the team, and 163 (last among all players who have scored a goal in the entire league) with .06 goals per shot on target.  Best displayed by the final minute of extra time against Freiburg, where Kamada received the ball inside the penalty box and directly in front of goal.  With the game on the line, Kamada left footed the ball 20 feet wide of the goal.  Only two Eintracht players rank in the top 70 of the Bundesliga in Goals per Shot on Target; Martin Hinteregger (41st - .47) and Timmy Chandler (9th - .63). The finishing has been a thorn in their side all season.  Against Freiburg, Kamada twice found himself 1 v 1 with the goal keeper, and twice hit him square in the chest.  Filip Kostic found himself all alone with the keeper late in the game, and found the keeper's knee.  Eintracht has to be more clinical in front of the net if they hope to turn this around.

 

 

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Eintracht holds form in loss to Gladbach.


Match Day 26: 
On a day with nearly perfect weather in Rhein River Valley, and with the entire soccer world watching, Eintracht Frankfurt rolled back into Bundesliga action against Borussia Mönchengladbach.  A much anticipated matchup, Eintracht looked to right the rails after sputtering in the Bundesliga for most of the Ruckrunde, and for the better part of 6 months.  The Eagles faithful fans had hoped that the long lay off had worked wonders for the ailing Eintracht attack, and seeing Bas Dost in the starting eleven rejuvenated the hope that he would indeed become the scorer that put in 15 goals in 27 games at Porto a year ago.  Hütter went with a more defensive 4141 formation than we´ve seen from him in the past. The back four of N´Dicka, Hinteregger, Abraham and Toure have not held much for the Eagles in defense, or going forward for the latter part of the season.  Today would be no different.



35 seconds......That's all it took for Alassane Plea to sneak a goal plast Kevin Trapp into the far post.  In an opening sequence that was a total comedy of errors, Eintracht took the opening kick and blasted it fifty meters down the pitch to Almamy Toure, who miss-played it off his head out of bounds.  2 seconds of possession on the opening kick, no semblance of a buildup or a plan. That would be a recurring theme for Eintracht for a better part of the day. On the ensuing throw in, Alassane Plea snuck in behind Sebastian Rode inside the midfield circle.  Plea had a bad touch, but a stumbling Rode knocked it twenty meters the wrong direction and to the feet of N´Dicka.  N´Dicka headed the ball back to midfield, which Florian Neuhaus returned to Breel Embolo, playing deep.  Embolo volleyed it back to Plea, who touched it to Jonas Hoffman, then streaked passed a sleeping Eintracht defense. Plea got the ball back and bent on past the leaning Trapp. The Eagles came out looking to attack, and Gladbach hit them with a quick counter. The ball by Plea was nicely placed, it wasn´t struck particularly hard, but Trapp was leaning the wrong direction and it nestled into the corner.  The entire sequence screamed of a team that had just came out of training totally unprepared to play.  The defense was out of sorts, out of position, and out played.  The ball was being played and placed terribly, and Eintracht paid a heavy price for it.


The game was essentially over at that point.  The following possession, instead of building a well organized attack, Eintracht played the kickoff back to Trapp, how banged a 50 meter pass to Kamada.  The deflected ball went to Rode, who passed it past Toure and out of bounds.  It was more of the same, time and time again.  Play the ball out of the back, 40-50 meters down the pitch, and watch Gladbach win the ball.  Marcus Thuram beat them again shortly thereafter to take it to 0-2.  At the 7:00, Marcus Thuram got in between Abraham and Hinteregger to sneak in his 8th goal of the season.  With Eintracht overplaying the left side of the pitch, a deep cross off the foot of Stefan Lainer found a streaking Remy Benemaimi. Under little pressure,  Bensemaimi flicked the ball to Thuram who finished with ease. 

David Abraham completely lost Thuram on a ball played into the box, and the Hinteregger never left off his mark to help.  Trapp was a sitting duck.  Again, not a spectacular goal, not particularly hard fought.  The defense  simply gave it away. 

Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Borussia Monchengladbach score: Alassane ...

This has become a theme on the year. The defense, out of position and laying off, overlook a player making a run and concede an easy goal.  Instead of working and grinding back possession to create goal chances, Eintracht consistently plays the ball deep from the back and directly to the other team.  The game score doesn't look so bad. Eintracht actually won possession.  But anyone who watched the game knew that Eintracht never stood a chance.  Despite Filip Kostic's free kick (and the immediate botched rebound by Djibril Sow), Eintracht really never posed a serious threat through the first 80 minutes.  The insertion of Andre Silva and Timothy Chandler picked up the attack, with Silva finally finding the mark on a nice run at the 81 minute mark on a nice ball through by Sebastian Rode.
Eintracht must stabilize their defense.  They must find a way to formulate more attacks.  While Bas Dost is winning balls in the air (5.8 per game), he does nothing with it.  Kamada is providing no punch in Bundesliga action what-so-ever.  The backline of N'Dicka and Toure are constantly out of position, and pose no threat on the attacking end.  N'Dicka and Toure's crosses were consistently missing the mark against Gladbach. From the duo, only 2 of the 8 crosses tried were accurate crosses and they combined for 0 completed long balls on the game also. With Toure on the right side, there's no significant offensive threat to balance out the field and free up Kostic to do his work.  With no real threat in the middle, Kostic is also having to duck inside to try to find space and create.  Kamada, who had a hat trick against RB Salzburg in Europa League's round of 32, and a brace against Arsenal in the group stage, must find his Bundesliga bearings. With 8 games left in the season, and staring straight at a Bayern Munich side that will want revenge from the last matchup, Eintracht has a heavy load in front of them.

 

Thursday, May 14, 2020

One of the biggest sports leagues on the planet is about to start back up, are you paying attention?

  March: Lovely weather, flowers blooming, spring breakers, and.....COVID Lockdown world wide?  The current SARS-COVID2 crises left a gaping hole for sports fans world wide.  Unilaterally almost every sports league in the world shut down simultaneously.  With everyone social distancing, widespread stay at home orders, and many businesses here in the U.S. closed, a major part of our leisure time was also stricken off the television sets: Sports.  No more NBA, no more MLS, no MLB, and no soccer.  That is about to change however with one of the biggest and best sports leagues on Earth coming back to play.  The Bundesliga is home to some of the most exciting soccer you will see, tremendous rivalries, huge storied teams, and great atmospheres.  I'm not going to use this post to talk about the awesomeness of promotion/relegation or 50+1, but more so why to watch, who to watch, and how you can watch. 
  The Bundesliga isn't just home to some of the greatest talent on the planet, it's home to some of the best American talent on the planet.  Roughly 30  Americans play in the Bundesliga's first and second divisions, most of which are vying for time on the U.S. National team.  The Bundesliga is helping churn out our best talent, including Christian Pulisic.  But, there is also great tradition, and wonderful exciting sport that comes along with it.  Don't know anything about the Bundesliga?  That's fine.  Want to join in but needing a team to root for?  Excellent.  Below I will give a small break down of all 18 teams in the first division, as well as a couple of notable 2. Division teams.  You can watch games beginning Saturday on Fox Sports, FS1 and FS2.  You can watch all 1st and 2nd division games with Fox Soccer MatchPass ($19.99 per month.). 
But First, a simple breakdown of league format for those unaccustomed to European Soccer:
Competition Format: Throughout the course of the season, each team plays all teams in their division twice: Once at home, once away.  Points are awarded based on result; 3 - win, 1 - tie, 0 - loss.  The team with the most points at the end of the season is the champion.  This is where it gets a little interesting however.  There is more to play for than only the league championship, and this super sweet trophy: Die Meisterschale (Champions Bowl)
Guardiola can still complete final Bayern assignment: win ...

Matchday 26.
No Playoffs? What else is there to play for?
A ton. Top four teams go to the UEFA Champions League.  This is where the best clubs in all of Europe go to play mano-e-mano with large amounts of money and pride at stake.  The winner can claim to be the best club in Europe, and therefore one of the best in the world.  The next two (Places 5 and 6) go to UEFA Europa League.  This is basically the N.I.T. of European Soccer.  Also good money at stake, lots of prestige in both making it and winning it.  Two teams are still alive in Europe.  Bayern Munich is still playing in the round of 16 Champions League, and Eintracht Frankfurt is alive in Europa Leagues round of 16 as well.
    There is also relegation at stake.  The bottom two teams automatically swap places with the top two from the 2. Bundesliga, and the third to last has to play a 2 game series, winner take all with the third best team in the 2. BLiga.  This happens every year, at almost every level of German Soccer.  So, in theory, a Sunday Beer League team could essentially one day become a fully professional organization (given they have a stadium) by winning their league consistently year after year.  

OK, but who should I root for?
Below is a brief breakdown of each club, sorted by current standings.  I'll briefly walk you through each clubs history, their best players, any Americans in the ranks, and why you should pick them.
(Buy-earn - Moon-Chin)
Commonly Known As: Bayern

Top Players:  Manuel Neuer, Robert Lewandowski, Joshua Kimmich, Thomas Mueller, Phillipe Coutinho, Kingsley Coman, Serge Gnabry, Niklas Sule, Jerome Boateng, David Alaba.

American Players:  Chris Richards (17 year old Defender, Formerly of FC Dallas), Malik Tillman (18 year old Center Forward, currently in youth system), Taylor Booth (18/Midfielder, youth system)

You might also know: Alphonso Davies (18 year old Canadian Defender/Winger, formerly of Vancouver White Caps.) Maxi Kleber (NBA player, Dallas Maverick, former Bayern Munich Player).

You will like them if: (1) You like global domination (2) You like the NY Yankees (3) You like teams with dominant history, that play solid and exciting soccer, and are one of the biggest teams on the planet.  Bayern Munich is a storied club, winning roughly half (29) of the Bundesliga Championships since it's current form came about in 1962. Bayern has an enormous trophy room packed full to the gils with league championships, DFB Pokal trophies, Golden Boot (top scorer) awards, and basically every accomplishment a team can get.  They have tons of money, they have rabid fans, and they win.  They are the N.Y. Yankees, the Dallas Cowboys, the Boston Celtics of the Bundesliga. Bayern has a massive fanbase both within Germany and America. If you are a fan of the Bundesliga, you either love them or hate them.





(Bore-oose-yuh Door-t-mund)
Commonly Known As: Dortmund

Top Players: Thorgan Hazard, Marco Reus, Julian Brandt, Erling Haaland, Jadon Sancho, Mats Hummels, Roman Burki
American Players: Giovanni Reyna (17 year old Midfielder)
You might also know: Thomas Delaney, Mario Gotze, Axel Witsel
You will like them if: (1) You like fast breaking, high pressing action.  (2) You like the mid-00's Suns or the current Houston Rockets (3) Christian Pulisic.....Borussia Dortmund routinely plays an exciting style of soccer, and they put up points.  Dortmund also gives up a lot of points too. The last team to win the league title not named Bayern Munich, Dortmund is a constant challenger.  They started off slow, but since the addition of Erling Haaland, and the goal scoring tear he went on once arriving, Dortmund are looking like actual challengers down the stretch.  Dortmund has a good history, with 8 league championships and plenty of other trophies to boot.

(RB Lipe-zig)
Commonly Known As: Leipzig, 

Top Players: Timo Werner, Yussuf Poulsen, Emil Forsberg, Kevin Kampl, Dayot Upamecano, Ibrahima Konate, Lucas Klosterman
American Players: Tyler Adams (21 year old midfielder, USMNT standout), Noah Jones (18 year old Center Forward, currently in the Developmental system)
You might also know:
You will like them if: (1) You prefer Darth Vader to Obi-Wan Kenobi (2) You like crashing parties when nobody wants you there (3) You like really talented teams that play hard and play exciting. RB Leipzig is probably the most hated team within Germany.  Why?  If you ask a German, not from Leipzig, you'll get an answer similar to: "Because Red Bull cheated the rules and created a club to be nothing more than a commercial."  That being said, RB Leipzig had a meteoric rise from a 5th division club, has some of the most exciting players in the world on their team, and is a real threat to win the league title year after year.  Timo Werner, although inconsistent, is a rocket.  He tears through defenses with speed and is an excellent goal scorer.  They are fun to watch, they are always dangerous, and if you like the villian, this is your club. Head Coach Julian Nagelsmann is a young, brilliant, extremely innovative tactician that has Leipzig packing a punch. Leipzig is also one of only two teams in the 1st Division from the former East Germany.

(Bore-oose-yuh Moon-chin-glad-back)
Commonly Known As: Gladbach

Top Players: Breel Embolo, Markus Thuram, Alassane Plea, Florian Neuhaus, Nico Elvedi, Denis Zakaria
American Players: Fabian Johnson (31 year old midfielder/left back) Michael Wentzel (18 year old defender, currently in youth system)
You might also know: Matthias Ginter, Yan Sommer, Raffael
You will like them if: (1) You like the Pittsburgh Steelers, Oakland A's, or teams that were once dominant, and still consistently relevant. (2) You loved watching Fabian Johnson play, and still think he should be on the USMNT. (3) You prefer watching reruns of 1970's NFL films highlights to watching the NFL on Sunday. Gladbach once had a proud tradition and some of the best players on the planet. Dominant in the 1970's, with an innovative and creative style of soccer, they swept through the Bundesliga to a tune of 5 titles during the decade. Since then, they have been a mid-table club occasionally finishing in European Competition spots, occasionally battling relegation. They do have a nice attack and are playing great soccer at this point through the 2019/2020 campaign. The spent a good part of the year at the top of the table, and were leading the league on Matchday 14 after a 2-1 win over Bayern Munich. Can they hold onto a Champions League position? Will they continue to falter down the stretch? Currently only 6 points out of first, they are still within shouting distance of a title. Also once the home of USMNT's Michael Bradley, Gladbach is a solid club with deep roots.
(Bay-er Lave-er-kuse-en)
Commonly Known As: Leverkusen

Top Players: Kai Havertz, Leon Bailey, Kevin Volland, Jonathan Tah
American Players: None
You might also know: Lucas Hradecky, Wendell, Kerem Demirbay, Moussa Diaby, Paulinho
You will like them if: (1) Leverkusen started as a sports clubs for the workers of Bayer AG ( pharmaceutical company). (2) was once the home of Landon Donovan (3) You like teams that are in a steady and consistent rise. (4) Leverkusen has one of the best Twitter presences in all of #SoccerTwitter.  Leverkusen has been on the rise from a Regional League team to a first division constant since the 1980's.  Never having won the first division championship, they were winners of the 2.Liga trophy in 78-79 and the UEFA cup in 87/88 and have been a steady Bundesliga presence for 3 decades..  While never having won the title, Leverkusen has had a series of top 4 finishes, including 7 top 4's in the last 10 years and finishing as high as second in 2010/2011.  In Bailey (22) and Havertz (20), Leverkusen has two young stars that could be generational type players.

(Shall-kuh)
Commonly Known As: Schalke

Top Players: Amine Harit, Suat Serdar, Omar Mascarell, Alexander Nubel
American Players: Westin McKinney, David Wagner (Head Coach), Nick Taitague, Matthew Hoppe.
You might also know:
You will like them if: (1) You like the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, and rooting for your teams young stars win Championships for the Yankees. (2) You like "Loveable Losers" (Saints, Cubs etc.). (3) You love small market teams that fight hard, produce terrific prospects, and are from a blue collar town.  There are two big reasons to jump behind this team: David Wagner, and Westin McKennie.  Unlike the Devil Rays, Schalke is a 7 time Bundesliga Champion, but haven't won a single championship since the Bundesliga came into it's current form in 1962.  Schalke is a good, tuff, and gritty team. They are an old school, traditional Bundesliga team that has been around since 1904.  There is a lot to root for in the Veltins-Arena on matchday.

(Wolf's-berg)
Commonly Known As: Wolfsburg
Top Players: Wout Weghorst, Maximilian Arnold, Koen Casteels
American Players: John Brooks (27/Defender) Ulysses Llanez (19/Midfield) Michael Edwards (19/Defender)
You might also know: William, Joshua Guilavogui, 
You will like them if: (1) You dig Volkswagens (2) you appreciate their history with American players (Brian McBride, Claudio Reyna), You like small town clubs with big punch.  Wolfsburg does have a fairly recent title under their belt (08/09) a German Cup (14/15) and a Super Cup (15/16).  Wolfsburg is home of Volkswagen, and in the past they have had problems getting people in their stands on weekday games.  Wolfsburg fights, a consistent Bundesliga member since working there way out of the Regional Leagues in the 80's and 90's to reaching the top division in 1997.  Wolfsburg has a nice stadium, solid players, and are a consistent mid to high table team. They also have fairly awesome uniforms.
(Fry-Burg)
Commonly Known As: Freiburg
Top Players: Nils Petersen, Luca Waldschmidt, Christian Gunter, Robin Koch
American Players: N/A - Most Recent - Caleb Stanko and Alex Mendez
You might also know: Chang Hun-Kwan, Alexander Schwolow
You will like them if: (1) You love beautiful German cities in the heart of the Black Forest. (2) You appreciate teams that consistently churn out homegrown talent on a shoe string budget. (3) You love the "Little engine that could."  Freiburg is the perpetual underdog.  Freiburg has been up and down the 1st and second divisions for the better part of 20 years.  Never placing higher than 5th, Freiburg is always a scrappy team with one of the lowest payrolls in the league, and in Europe.  When the opponent steps into Der Schwarzwald-Stadion, they are in for a dogfight backed with rabid fans.  Freiburg is a team and a fan base that should be deeply respected. Head Coach Christian Streich will always have them playing solid defensive, team work based soccer.  

(Hoff-en-hime)
Commonly Known As: Hoffenheim
Top Players: Andrej Kramaric, Florian Grillitsch, Sebastien Rudy, Diadie Samassekou, 
American Players: N/A
You might also know: Oliver Baumann, Stefan Posch, Robert Skov
You will like them if: (1) you don't care about 50+1 (2) You appreciate the rise of a 5th division nobody to a Champions League Contender (3) you love the Croatian National team.  Hoffenheim rose the ranks of the Bundesliga, much like RB Leipzig, in meteoric fashion with the addition of big money from supporter Dietmar Hopp.  Hoffenheim circumnavigated the 50+1 rule, and the board voted to allow Hopp to take majority ownership of the club.  Hoffenheim rose quickly with tremendous scouting and player acquisition from neighboring countries Serbia and Croatia.  While Julian Nagelsmann, and many of their key players have departed recently, Hoffenheim is a scrappy squad that poses problems for even the most dominant Bundesliga teams.

(Kuln)
Commonly Known As: Cologne, FC (eff-tsay)
Top Players: Timo Horn, Johnas Hector, Ellyes Skhiri, Jhon Cordoba
American Players: Brady Scott (20/Goal Keeper, reserve team)
You might also know: Mark Uth, Anthony Modeste, Dominick Drexler
You will like them if: (1) you have a soft spot for traditional, big clubs that have fallen on hard times. (2) you love Mardi Gras.  (3) like the Green-Bay packers. (4) you like teams with massive potential and possible resurrection stories. Koln won the first ever Bundesliga Championship in 1963-64.  They won again in 77-7, and had 5 second place finishes between 1964 and 1990.  Once a power team in the Bundesliga, Koln has fallen on hard times.  Koln has been and elevator club (constantly moves up and down divisions) for most of the 2000's.  2018/2019 saw them win the 2. BLiga, and currently they are a hard working, undertalented team that when they play together can be very dangerous. After struggling in the early going, Koln has been steadily climbing the table for weeks.

(Oon-yawn Bear-leen)
Commonly Known As: Union Berlin
Top Players:
American Players:
You might also know:
You will like them if: (1) you love one of the coolest stories in all of professional sports. (2) you love an underdog. (3) you are looking for a feel good story and cheering for a team just to stay up.  Union Berlin is an amazing story, as I don't have time to get into the complete history, they shocked many last year by winning the relegation playoff in 2019 (only the second club ever to do so since 1981) for their first ever trip to the top flight.  Currently, only the second East German side in the Bundesliga, they are Mighty Mouse; they play hard, their fans cheer hard, and every win is a Rocky Balboa type struggle.  They are a fun story, play good soccer, and a fun team to jump behind.

(Ine-tract Frank-fort)
Commonly Known As: Eintracht, SGE
Top Players: Kevin Trapp, Martin Hinteregger, Filip Kostic, Danny DaCosta
American Players: Timothy Chandler (31 -RB, RM) Mason Judge (17 - Defender, youth team)
You might also know: Makato Hasabe, Jonathan de Guzman, Andre Silva, Bas Dost, 
You will like them if: (1) you want to be part of the best fan base in all of sports. (2) you love exciting counterattacking soccer. (3) you have stock in ant-acids. Eintracht Frankurt's nickname is "The Moody Diva", and as a fan of this club I can't tell you how appropriate that is.  They love to elate you, then rip your guts out.  Things like beating Bayern 5-1 (one of Bayern's worst losses to anyone in recent memory) while making good runs in the DFB Pokal and the Europa League, then losing six out of seven contests.  Eintracht has exciting players and talent, and their fans make every game feel like a home game.  Not the biggest club, they've never won a Bundesliga title, but their fans will always make every game feel like a home game. They are a must follow.

(Hair-tuh Bear-lean)
Commonly Known As: Hertha
Top Players: Dodi Lukebakio, Marko Grujic, Krsysztof Piatek, 
American Players: Vedad Ibisevic (35/CF, duel national) 
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You will like them if: (1) you love the NY Knicks, or the NY Jets. (2) You're looking for a club with massive potential (3) You love "If they can just get the right guy in there..." scenarios.  Hertha has had the lion's share of Germany's biggest market, with a massive stadium for nearly a half century.  Hertha has all the makings of a sleeping giant, but in 50 years they have yet to build the fan base needed to dominate the landscape, or successfully compete at the highest Bundesliga levels.  Successful runs in the 1970's and 2000's bookend horrific plummets to the depths of German soccer. Hertha has never won a Bundesliga title (have won 3 in the 2.Liga), but are 3 time DFB Pokal winners.  Overspending, poor management, and the inability to draw the attention of a city that has a population of 3.5 million has left fans of the club baffled.  As cross town rival Union Berlin showed, the city will get behind a club they believe in.  Hertha seems to be making strides to correct course, and could be a good ship to jump on if they ever figure it out.

(Ow-gz-burg)
Commonly Known As: Augsburg
Top Players: Florian Niederlechner, Philipp Max,  Tomas Koubek
American Players: Maurice Malone (19/CF)
You might also know: Tin Jedvaj, Rani Khedira, Felix Gotze
You will like them if: (1) you love small college sports. (2) You want a great sense of community out of your team experience. (3) You like traditional clubs.  Augsburg has slowly grinded their way up the German soccer landscape to a club that can hold it's own at the first division.  For nearly 50 years Augsburg bounced back and forth between the lower divisions, until winning promotion in the 2010-2011 season. Augsburg has stuck ever since, placing as high as 5th and winning a spot in the Europa League in 2014/2015.  Augsburg is a tuff, gritty club from a beautiful Bavarian town. Without big-time sponsorships, and with one of the smallest supporters groups in Germany, Augsburg is a well run club with a family atmosphere.

(Mine-ts Null-fuh-mpf)
Commonly Known As: Mainz, the 05'ers.
Top Players: Robin Quaison, Moussa Niakhate, Robin Zentner, Jean-Paul Boetius
American Players: N/A
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You will like them if: (1) you love the opportunity for bright young coaches to come innovate the game, with the freedom to do it. (2) You love teams that punch above their weight. (3) You love Jurgen Klopp.  Klopp put both himself and Mainz '05 on the map with a rise through the 2. Liga, winning promotion in 2004.  After a brief 2 year stint back in the 2. liga, Mainz has held a steady place in the Bundesliga for a decade.  Mainz has a history of getting good young coaches and giving them freedom to innovate.  Always near the bottom in spending, without major sponsors and having a small supporters group, Mainz is still a battle on many match days.  Mainz sits in the midst of beautiful wine country near the Rein and Mainz rivers, and has wonderful fans and supporters. Also once the home of USMNT legend Conor Casey.

(For-tuna Doo-sell-dorf)
Commonly Known As: Dusseldorf.
Top Players: Rouwen Hennings, Erik Thommy, Kaan Ayhan, Matthias Zimmerman
American Players: Zac Steffen, Alfredo Morales
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You will like them if: (1) you hear Uwe Rosler's story (2) you want to watch what Zac Steffen can do on the big stage.  (3) you are into traditional, old school clubs.  Rosler looks to bring an up-tempo, high paced attack to Dusseldorf to close out the season.  Duesseldorf holds one German German Championship (32/33, before the formation of the Bundesliga) two DFB Pokals, and two 2. BLiga championships.  Dusseldorf has little to hope for this season save staying up, and every game here on out will be a battle.  Zac Steffen has been wonderfully solid for them in goal this year, and getting to watch two Americans anchor the defense for this squad is worth a look.
(Vair-der Bray-men)
Commonly Known As: Werder Bremen
Top Players: Davy Klaassen, Jiri Pavlenka, Maximillion Eggestein, Leonardo Bittencourt, Milot Rashica
American Players: Josh Sargent (19/Striker)
You might also know: Niklas Moisander, Omer Toprak, Kevin Vogt, Nuri Sahin
You will like them if: (1) you like traditional as tradition can get. (2) you love passing, ball movement, and people movement. (3) you are looking for an underdog story.  Bremen is in a deep hole.  18 points through 24 games has left them 8 points shy of being safe, and currently running a goal differential of -28 on the season, it hasn't been pretty for Die Grün-Wießen.  Injuries have absolutely decimated the club this year, and left an already thin roster even thinner.  Florian Kohfeldt is a young, energetic coach that has them playing really fun soccer to watch.  Bremen just hasnät had enough in the tank to pull out games.  Bremen is a traditional club, 100% supporter driven, and has a strong history with four Bundesliga Championships and six DFB Pokal trophies.

(Pat-er-born)
Commonly Known As: Paderborn
Top Players: Dennis Srbeny
American Players:
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You will like them if: You want to cheer for the team that might win the 2.Liga next year. Paderborn is a yo-yo club.  They will bounce from the third to the first division, back to the second.  They are a small club that plays hard and has a good base.

Other teams from other divisions that might catch your attention:
FC St. Pauli  
Why Watch? If you like for your club to be social activists and have a really cool flag.
Gruether Furth 
Why Watch? Julian Green and Timothy Tillman are getting good minutes there, and they are fun to watch.
Hannover '96
Why Watch? Sebastien Soto is an up and coming USMNT hopeful.
Hamburger SV
Why Wach? Don't watch for Bobby Wood.  He's been terrible and hasn't seen the field in 10 games.  Do watch to see if this large, traditional club which had never been relegated until two years ago can win their way back to the top.

So, that's it.  Grab a coffee, make some pancakes, and enjoy the Bundesliga this Saturday starting at 8:30 Central.  Check out Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Gladbach at 11:30, there are games Sunday and Monday as well.  It's a great time to get into the Bundesliga.  


Wednesday, May 13, 2020

How does Eintracht recover in the midst of COVID?

Bundesliga: Eintracht Frankfurt discover recipe to beat RB Leipzig ...
It has been a whacky, out of sorts season for Eintracht Frankfurt from the time the season started until the unexpected break that took the world by storm.  The COVID-19 crisis that led to a lockdown of sporting events world wide interrupted a tumultuous season for Die Adler that is seeing deep runs in both the DFB Pokal and the Europa League, but cost them standing in the Bundesliga.  Eintracht has never been higher than 7th in the table, other than their matchday 1 win against Hoffenheim. This season has gone beyond Die Launische Diva, and in to full blown looney toons mode. After an exhilarating 5-1 win over Bayern Munich at Der Waldstadion, the season plummeted. Currently 12th in the table with 28 points (and with a game to make up against Bremen) Eintracht will play 11 games in the next 33 days in a race towards the finish. Big questions exist for this version of Die Adler: What happened? What happens next?  Can Eintracht stay up? Can they qualify for European Competition?  

Question #1: What happened?
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    Eintracht started their season early, with Europa League Qualifications starting July 25th the Eagles have already been on a long arduous road to this point.  Eintracht had played 31 matches that count (not including friendlies) by the time the Winter Pause rolled around.  Kostic, Hinteregger, and Sow logged heavy duty minutes through the first half of the season.  Injuries took their toll, and David Abrahams unacceptable actions led them being short handed in the Bundesliga for a time as well.  But that's only part of the story.  The attack is nowhere close to what it was last year.  Baz Dost (5 goals, 0 assists, 900 minutes played) has looked lost, a step slow, and his skill set neither replaces Sebastien Haller nor adds a different dimension to this attack.  He's been poor in the box all year; unable to break free, unable to get his head on the ball, and unable to make plays for his teammates.  He's shown almost no creativity, and can't find space to get his foot on the ball.  He's been a major hole in the Eintracht attack.  While it is noted he's been battling injuries to his groin and abdomen for quite some time, it's not unreasonable to expect better production from a guy that scored 34, 27, and 15 goals the last three years in Portugal. 
    As bad as he's been, Silva has been worse.  Not necessarily because of poor skill or technique, but because you almost don't even notice that he's on the pitch most times.  His runs have proven fruitless many times, and he's not a viable threat at the top of the attack at the moment.  Some of the fault is not his own, as Eintracht has no dependable playmaking from the middle of the field.  While the midfield has been solid in defense, they provide little in the terms of service for the guys up top.  Last year, with Sebastien Haller roaming the middle of the pitch and wreaking havoc on defenses, Eintracht had a player who was not just a threat to score on you at any time but also created holes for Jovic and Rebic to run and created timely service for them. Eintracht has found nothing in to replace this hole.  Daichi Kamada has been severely disappointing this year, with more yellow cards (3) than goals and assists combined in his 14 Bundesliga starts. Mijat Gacinovic (0 Goals, 1 Assist, 916 Minutes played across all appearances) and Djibril Sow (1 goal, 2 assists, 1400 minutes played) have not been the spark plugs this attack needs.  While Silva has been a far cry from the hard charging, frantic pressing Rebic, the guys behind him have given him little to no help at all. Adding to the frustration, one of the biggest offensive threats from the first part of the season was Martin Hinteregger, who's charging from the back often left Eintracht exposed to the counter.  Hinteregger currently ranks 5th on the squad in Expected Goals per game (3.1) and second in goals (6)  When one of the key anchors of your defense ranks second on the squad in Goals scored, you are putting yourself in a terrible position.  
    In the midst of this storm, you had Kevin Trapp missing 11 Bundesliga games after shoulder surgery, David Abraham missing 5 games for running over Christian Streich, and Adi Hutter switching formations.   The odd thing about the entire season is the team went south when you would expect them to be settling in.  The 4-2 loss to Borussia Monchengladbach on October 27 was backed by a 5-1 win over Bayern Munich the next week.  Just as fans are gearing up, ready for this team to take off, Eintracht went 0-1-6 over their next seven.  During the run, they were shut out by Freiburg, Wolfsburg, and Schalke, and held to only one goal against Mainz and S.C. Paderborn.  Eintracht hasn't been able to get off the ground against some of the bottom dwellers of the Bundesliga table, going 3-3-4 this year against Union Berlin, Hertha Berlin, Augsburg, Mainz, Dusseldorf, Bremen, and Paderborn.  If you take out the 5-0 walloping of Augsburg in February, Eintracht has been outscored 13-15 in the nine other games.  In games where the Eagles really needed to set themselves apart, they simply weren't able to.



Question #2: What Happens Next?
  Eintracht has the capability of pulling this out and making it back to Europa-League position.  Whether they can actually put it together on the field, and what Adi Hutter does with his line-ups remains to be seen.  Timmy Chandler flourished in the most recent matches, pulling off 4 goals in 3 games as a newly inserted playmaker on the right wing.  Eintracht managed to recover a bit with a 3-1-0 stretch in January and February that included an impressive 2-1 win over RB Leipzig.  Has the break enabled Filip Kostic to recharge his batteries after already playing over 3,000 minutes?  Has the break allowed Baz Dost to get healthy?  Will Goncalo Paciencia be able to keep up his steady play? Did the break give new life to an aging Makato Hasabe? All that remains to be seen.  Hutter will most likely stay with his 4-4-2 formation, and try to win the ball high and strike quick.  Whether they will have the cohesion needed to execute after this long break is the big question.
Bundesliga: NADA investigating treatment of Eintracht Frankfurt′s ...
Question #3: Can Eintracht stay up?
Eintracht currently sits closer to the Relegation Zone than they do to European qualifying, but.....yes, they absolutely can and should stay up.  Six points of cushion stand between them and he Relegation playoff position.  Eintracht has an additional game to play as well. Eintracht must capitalize on their remaining games against the bottom of the table however.  Matchday 30 - vs Mainz, 31 - Hertha Berlin, Matchday 34- S.C. Paderborn, and the makeup match vs. Bremen are all huge matches as the season draws to an end.  Eintracht has the capability to sweep these matches.  Add Koln and Freiburg as games that Eintracht must win.  It would help to have the Frankfurt faithful pack Commerzbank Arena.  How well they will play their 5 remaining home games in front of an empty stadium is worrisome. 
Only available for Eintracht Frankfurt in 2020 - Teller Report
Question #4: Can they qualify for European Competition?
There are actually two ways that Eintracht could qualify for European competition.  (1) Win the DFB Pokal. (2) Finish top 7.  Due to the fact that both Bayern and Leverkusen are still in it, there's a good chance that 7th will get you into Europa League this year.  Much like last year, when the Bayern win vaulted Eintracht into Europa League qualifying, 7th can get you into the league if all standings above stand pat.  If Leverkusen wins, and drops from 5th, it changes the story.  Eintracht has a nasty matchup vs. Bayern in the next round, and has faired well in the Pokal so far. Their current position of 8 points out of 7th with 9 games left to go isn't promising, but also isn't mathematically impossible. They need help, and don't control their own destiny.  So, is it possible?  Absolutely.  Is it likely?  No. Unless we see a completely different Eagles squad over this haul there will be no European competitions for  Eintracht next year.
Eintracht Frankfurt want 'dream' Manchester United clash after ...

Eintrach Frankfurt re-opens the season at Commerzbank Arena against Borussia Monchengladbach.  The lone match saturday @ 11:30 AM Central 

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Bundesliga Season Preview (2019/2020) – Eintracht Frankfurt

Bundesliga Season Preview (2019/2020) – Eintracht Frankfurt
Basics: Full Name: Eintracht Frankfurt e.V.
Nicknames: Die Adler (The Eagles); S.G.E.; Launische Diva (Moody Diva) Founded: March 8th, 1899 Club Colors: Black, White, Red.
Primary Rivals: Kickers Offenbach, Mainz ‘05, 1. FC Kaiserslautern,
Fan Friendship: Oldham Athletic (England)
Stadium – Der Commerzbank Arena (Der Waldstadion)
Commerzbank-Arena - Meeting rooms - fiylo
Year Built: 1925 Capacity: 51,500 2017-2018
Attendance: 834,700 (49,100 per match; 7th in Bundesliga)

Trophies: German Championship – 1959 DFB Pokal – 1974, 1975, 1981, 1988, 2018 2.Bundesliga – 1997/1998 UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League – 1979-80 UEFA Intertoto Cup – 1967 2019/2020

Kits:

Coach: Adi Hütter 2018/2019
Bundesliga Position: 7th DFB
Pokal Result: Lost in First Round
Europa League Results: Semi Final Defeat to Chelsea
Eintracht Frankfurt - Wikipedia

Additions: Erik Durm (Huddersfield), Martin Hinteregger (Augsburg), Dejan Joveljic (Red Star Belgrade), Dominik Kohr (Bayer Leverkusen), Djibril Sow (Young Boys), Rodrigo Zalazar (Malaga), Kevin Trapp (Paris-Saint Germain)

Losses: Danny Blum (Bochum), Sebastien Haller (West Ham United), Mischa Häuser (FSV Frankfurt), Branimir Hrgota (out of contract), Luka Jovic (Real Madrid), Nelson Mandela Mbouhom (end of contract), Andersson Ordonez (LDU Quito), Tobias Stirl (Wolfsburg reserves), Kevin Trapp (Paris St. Germain, end of loan), Rodrigo Zalazar (Korona Kielce, loan)

The team 2019/20.

Eintracht Frankfurt » Squad 2019/2020

2018/2019 Overview:

The season started off horribly last year for Adi Hütter’s squad. Starting with a disappointing American pre-season tour that showed them drawing Real Salt Lake (1-1) and losing to The Philadelphia Union (1-0), Hütter’s squad continued to struggle to find traction. Losing to SSV Ulm (2-1) in the opening round of the DFB Pokal, Bayern Munich (5-0) in the DFB Super Cup. Eintracht went on to post a 1-1-3 record their first five Bundesliga matches. When Eintracht finally found their ground however, they did so in style. They won every game in the group stage of the Europa League, and went on a midseason run that saw them jump to as high as third in the standings on Matchday 12. Eintracht came back from the Winter Break to go unbeaten in 11 straight Bundesliga matches, and go unbeaten in both Europa League and Bundesliga play from January 19th to April 14th. Hütter had them playing a high flying, free wheeling attack that included a Dusseldorf 1-7 Eintracht Frankfurt victory in which Luca Jovic notched 5 goals. After the semi-final loss to Chelsea in the Europa-League, Eintracht faded down the stretch losing their last three games. Thanks to a key 4-2 victory from Mainz 05 over FSV Hoffenheim on Matchday 34 Eintracht managed to qualify for Europa League in consecutive seasons for the first time in almost 25 years. Roster Breakdown:

2019/2020 Outlook:

Goalkeeper

Frederik Rønnow, Felix Wiedwald, Jan Carpenter, Kevin Trapp.
Bundesliga | Kevin Trapp returns to Eintracht Frankfurt from Paris ...
After rumors swirled all offseason, Kevin Trapp is finally back in Eintracht. This time on a permanent deal that should make him the #1 in Frankfurt with a contract that runs through 2024. Trapp was rock solid last year, ranking second in Bundesliga play with 124 shots saved. He posted 8 clean sheets, and gave up one goal or less 22 times during Eintracht’s run in the Bundesliga last year. He came up big in big spots. Even though Eintracht eventually fell to Chelsea on penalty shots in the Semifinals of the Europa League, Trapp came up big time and time again. The main questions will be depth, and what Eintracht will do with Frederik Rønnow. Ill timed injuries have hurt Rønnow , who has yet to see significant action since his arrival. Trapp’s transfer this summer most likely means the end of Rønnow’s tenure in Frankfurt. Both Rønnow and Felix Wiedwald are capable number 2’s and can handle the workload over a short span should the need arise.

Central Defense:


Evan N’Dicka, Martin Hinteregger, David Abraham, Makato Hasebe, Simon Falette, Marco Russ, Tuta
Left Back Football
The most important part of Hutter’s scheme, and the most overlooked position on the field, the boys at the back for Eintracht Frankfurt in the 2018/2019 campaign where tuff as nails all year long. Makato Hasabe made the transition from midfield to central defender wonderfully, and despite aging legs both he (35) and David Abraham (33) continually scrambled all over the field to make big plays. The youngster Evan N’Dicka started the year on fire, and even though he leveled off down the stretch was a huge part of Eintracht’s scorching midseason run. Martin Hinteregger was an instant fan favorite for his tough, gritty play and really added depth and stability to the back line. The #HintiArmy was was born, and the fans cared enough to send letters and cards to FC Augsburg begging for his release. The depth behind this four varies. Simon Falette has played well when called upon, but is not in Hütter’s plans. Falette managed only 1100 combined minutes and had big plays in the come from behind victory over Marseille in October but didn’t factor at all during the second half of the season. Marco Russ also doesn’t seem to feature much this upcoming year, but the veteran is always ready when his name is called upon.

Wing Backs:

Danny Da Costa, Filip Kostic, Timothy Chandler, Erik Durm, Almamy Toure,Taleb Tawatha
Filip Kostic - Player profile 19/20 | Transfermarkt
What Danny Da Costa and Filip Kostic accomplished last year was simply phenomenal. Da Costa played every single second of play for the Eagles in the Europa League, Bundesliga, The DFB Super Cup, and DFB Pokal. If Eintracht was playing, Da Costa was pulling 90 minutes of action. Kostic was not far off his pace in terms of minutes played. It’s not just about the amount of minutes they played, it’s how they played. Da Costa and Kostic both played high intensive, very demanding roles for Adi Hütter last year. Covering box to box, defending the opposing wings and being the threat to stretch the defense, Da Costa and Kostic wreaked havoc on the opposition for most of the year. Both are dangerous crossers, and have the ability to finish. Da Costa and Kostic were also completely gassed over the final month of the season and the results on the pitch showed. After Eintracht’s loss to Chelsea in the Europa League semi-finals, Eintracht lost total traction. Bayer Leverkusen exploited the wings routinely en route to a 6-1 victory on May 5th, and Bayern Munich had a field day in their 5-1 win over the Eagles on Matchday 34. The good news is Eintracht have added depth in the summer transfer window with the additions of Erik Durm (transfer – Fullham) and Timothy Chandler (knee injury). Durm is a sturdy player capable of holding down the demanding position, and Timothy Chandler returns after a year of recovering from a torn meniscus. Chandler was a key player for former coach Niko Kovac during the 2017/2018 DFB Pokal winning campaign. Almamy Toure should feature some for Eintracht as well. This is a position of strength for the Eagles.

Midfield:

Gelson Fernandes, Jonathan De Guzman, Sebastian Rode, Djibril Sow, Mijat Gacinovic, Lucas Torro, Marc Stendera, Nils Stendera, Nicolai Muller, Dominik Kohr, Sahverdi Cetin, Patrick Finger, Marijan Cavar
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The midfield was sort of an enigma for Eintracht last year. Although the play from players such as Jonathan De Guzman and Gelson Fernandes was often solid, it lacked the energy and creativity to really make the Eagles a contender. Mijat Gacinovic played very well in Europa League play (2 Goals, 7 assists in 14 appearances), but his production was almost non-existent in the Bundesliga (0 Goals, 2 assists in 29 appearances). Sebastian Rode offered quality play and defensive stability upon his arrival from Borussia Dortmund in December. He was a key component in Eintracht’s semi final run in the Europa League. Lucas Torro also played well when in the lineup, but missed the better of 4 months with a torn abductor muscle. Torro is a quality defender and really goes after balls in the air well,Image result for Sebastian Rode and is truly a threat on set pieces. Marc Stendera filled in sparingly for Coach Hütter last year, and Eintracht is actively looking for a transfer partner for him. Stendera has never regained his promise since a knee injury took him out of action in the 2015/2016 season. A former Germany U-21 player, Stendera could fill in for spot duty, but it appears as his time vying for first team minutes are over in Frankfurt. Djibril Sow (transfer) was an intriguing pickup for Fredi Bobic this off-season. Sow played under Hütter at BSC Young Boys in the Swiss Super League posting 2800 minutes played in the 2017/2018 campaign. He is an athletic, rangy player that brings lots of action and energy to the pitch. “Djibril Sow is a player who has caught the eye on the international stage recently, he was highly sought-after, which makes it all the more pleasing that he chose to come to Eintracht Frankfurt. We’re absolutely convinced of his ability to perform and his potential to develop further. His technical, strategic and athletic abilities will strengthen us.” said Fredi Bobic on his arrival.

Forwards
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Ante Rebic, Gonçalo Paciência, Daichi Kamada, Dejan Joveljic

This area has gone from The Eagles strongest position, and possibly the best combination of young attacking talent in Europe to an area of enormous concern. Last year Haller and Jovic combined for 47 goals and 19 assists across all competitions. Haller was more than just a goal scorer, he was the most important offensive player on Eintracht’s squad. He led all Bundesliga players in both duels won (459) and aerial duels won (205), ranked 5th in goals (15) and 6th in assists (9) and his player rating of 7.55 ranked 5th. The two were one of the most dynamic duos in all of Europe last year, and add them to Da Costa and Kostic you had a lethal attack going forward. Rebic is almost forgotten about, but playing in an unfamiliar position and often the third in line for the ball still managed to post career numbers in goals (10) and assists (6). Those numbers and opportunities should vastly improve this year. Rebic will most likely be the primary threat every second his is on the field. He’s a bull, and capable of making spectacular plays. Gonçalo Paciência is a solid #2, and has a knack for heading the ball in the back of the net. A decent distributor, he should be able to help fill the playmaking void left by Haller’s departure. While not as skilled or dynamic, Paciência is a hard worker and has the skill to succeed in the Bundesliga. Daichi Kamada is an interesting player. Breaking through on loan last year for Belgium’s Sint-Truidense VV, Kamada banged home 16 goals to go with 9 assists. Kamada is a skilled player, but not the athletic specimen of Haller. The 23 year old has a thin frame and slight build and there is question if he can handle the rigor of both Bundesliga and Europa League play. Dejan Joveljic is a young (19) Serbian striker much in the same mold as Luca Jovic. Both Kamada and Joveljic have showed promise in the early goings of the 2019/2020 season. Joveljic scored the game deciding header in his first action during Europa League qualifying. This is a position that could haunt Eintracht this year, but is really a coin toss as to who will perform outside of Rebic.

Synopsis:


This is going to be an interesting year for Eintracht. Who will step up and fill the gaps left by the departures of Haller and Jovic? Will they be able to play the quick hitting, exciting style that Coach Adi Hütter is known for? The Eagles desperately need play making and goal scoring, and with CEO Wolfgang Stuebner stating that money is tight despite the moves of Haller and Jovic, that most likely will have to come from within. Rebic, Paciencia, Kamada, and Joveljic will have to step up their games in order to provide the offensive punch that Eintracht needs to compete with the big boys of the Bundesliga. Last year, the lack of depth was evident as Eintracht ground to a halt over the last three weeks of the season. As great as Jovic, Haller, Kostic and De Costa were, they showed signs of exhaustion over the final month of play. With Eintracht fighting for a spot in Europa League, hoping to make a run in the DFB Pokal, and balancing a very competitive Bundesliga schedule the new additions will be key. Hütter must do a much better job at rotating the squad and keeping them fresh. It would be negligent to leave out the effect that Eintracht’s fans have on their beloved team. The Frankfurt Faithful are the best fans in all of Europe and quite often turn away games into home games. On matchdays, the entire Commerzbank arena is a giant supporters section, and they travel well. Over 10,000 supporters traveled to Italy for a matchup against Inter Milan, and the energy they bring energizes the men on the pitch. They are the 12th man, and this team with this coach and these fans are a wonderfully deadly combination both home and away. Celebrating the 120th year of Sport Group Eintracht, the fans will have plenty to watch this year.

Prediction: The Eagles, with the help of the new additions and the emergence of Paciencia and Kamada will notch into the 5th spot in the Bundesliga this year. Look for Eintracht to show well in Europa, making it out of the group and advancing to the quarterfinals. The DFB Pokal is a coin flip, but look for The Eagles to make a nice run before being knocked out mid tournament.