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.
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.