Fortuna Düsseldorf 4 – 0 Eintracht Frankfurt – F95, Blessed by the Gods

Fortuna Düsseldorf (F95) was owed a jubilant romp by the footy gods. And they got one in a dominant 4-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt, who suffered through 56 minutes of playing a man down.

In terms of old school sporting justice, F95 is a beautiful side: hard runners, tough tacklers, “plucky” intangibles, the upward mobility narrative of any newly promoted sides, and blue-collar workhorses like their charismatic leader Andreas “Lumpi” Lambertz. They’re the sort of side who would get the bandwagon treatment during the playoffs in an American sport. They play football with the look of a side who has “hustle,” “will,” and “courage” to get them through games –  rather than technique, tactics, or star strikers.

Finally, they didn’t have to “little-engine-that-could” their way through a game. No, they rolled over Eintracht. Unfortunately, the romp was sparked by two yellow cards earned by Eintracht’s Karim Matmour, who was sent off at 34′. In F95’s defense, however, at least they looked like the brighter, more threatening side through the first 34 minutes. Who said the gods were fair, anyway?

Besides, F95 they gave us a clinic on winning when a man up.

Formations and Tactics

Two 4-2-3-1s. Can we move on now?

Indeed, both teams are serial 4-2-3-1 users (in 29 0f 30 matches!):

F95 boss Norbert Meier seems finally to be getting his lineup down. Stefan Reisinger remained a starter as the right attacking midfielder. Oliver Fink returned as the starting right defensive midfielder. And Leon Balogun remained the starting rightback. Finally, Nando Rafael started upfront, in place of Robbie Kruse, who was injured shortly before the match. With this lineup, F95 gets a bit of unpredictable excitement on top (thanks to Rafael), which they need – given their usual fairly defensive play – providing their incessant play along the left flank a terminus from which they at least get a dice-roll-of-a-chance on the goal now.  I can see them staying in 1.Bundesliga with lineups like this ; I had my doubts earlier in the year given their paucity in creating chances on goal.

Eintracht boss Armin Veh made three changes from his side that lost to Mainz 05 at midweek: on top, Karim Matmour (for Olivier Occean); at right defensive midfield, Martin Lanig (for Pirmin Schwegler); and at centerback, Vadim Demidov (for Carlos Zambrano). With this lineup, even before Matmour’s second yellow, Eintracht never looked dangerous in creating real threats on goal, as Eintracht’s marauding leftflank of Bastian Oczipka and Takshi Iniu was largely neutralized by F95’s defense, leaving the red-hot Alexander Meier without any real chances (indeed, he finished with only one shot on goal).

After Matmour was sent off, Eintracht switched to something like a 3-3-3 in second half and subbed on Stefano Celozzi (for Lanig at half), Dorge Kouemaha (for Inui at 72′), and Benjamin Köhler (for Rode at 83′). However, no new wrinkles were added to the attack, and Eintracht finished the game passively.

First Half

In the quiet of the “12:12 protest,” Eintracht got a couple of chances from Jung and Inui. Then, as the Düsseldorf crowd roared to life at 12:12, the home team seemed to wake up and promptly reeled off three chances (Fink, Bodzek, and Lumpi). From this point on, it was F95’s game. Matmour earned his first yellow at 26′ for a bad foul on Bodzek. Eight minutes later, policeman Michael Weiner doled out Matmour’s second yellow for a flailing  American football style “horse collar”-type takedown of Reisinger. As if on cue, Reisinger responded with a fantastic dribble through three Eintracht defenders with a goal (38′) sent to the bottom right corner on the assist from Bodzek. (Matmour trice paid for his crimes!) Four minutes later, Fink electrified the crowd with a goal (42′) on a blast of a shot outside the box sent to the bottom left corner of the goal.

By halftime, the match was effectively over. Indeed, it was a great half for F95, especially leftback Johannes van den Bergh:

  • 52 touches (vs. 60 per game average)
  • 40 passes (vs. 38 per game average)
van den Bergh was the engine of the offense, leading his team in touches and passes, as F95 gave another great performance down the left flank. Here’s his first half passing distribution:
.
The left flank continues to be the catalyst for most of F95’s attacking chances, kicked off by van den Bergh’s passing and movement up the flank. Meanwhile, Lumpi, heart and soul of F95, seemed to be everywhere with 40 touches, 33 passes (he averages 36 per game):

Lumpi’s movement was key in disrupting Eintracht’s play and his passing was key in providing a link up from F95’s dominant left flank to other areas of the pitch.

Second Half 

Eintracht started with a couple of chances (Rode and Aigner), but were quickly reminded of their inferiority when Nando Rafael was rewarded for his fine play with a goal (58′) – a left footed strike from the six yard box. By this point, the party was on in Düsseldorf, as the stands erupted into joyous “oleing.” Indeed, my favorite second half highlight was of a F95 supporter swaying and singing “oles” with eyes clenched shut, arms upraised, as if worshiping in a Pentecostal church. F95 scored a 4th goal (85′) for giggles when fanboy Bellinghausen nailed the goal center from the center of the box. A defiant goal, scored from the heart of Eintracht’s territory, signalling the full humiliation of Eintracht, who now have soul-searching to do, taking only 1 point in their last three games.

Van den Bergh finished his dominating performance with 93 touches, 71 passes, and about 11 km logged. His final passing distribution looked like this:

Lumpi finished his ceaseless work in the midfield with a heatmap resembling a lovely slime mold colony:

In other metrics, F95 demonstrated their ability to put on a clinic with a man up:

  • Shots: 7 (vs. 4)
  • Passes: 457 (vs. 284)
  • Ball touches: 729 (vs. 556)

However, they were superior in quality, too, not just quantity, possession-wise. Their play was purposeful, as if spotting them a man reveals a side that  always have a plan. Indeed, psychologically, they seemed to only grow stronger as the game wore on, as the gap in ball touches between them and Eintracht grew greater toward the match’s end:

Armin Veh cannot be happy with how his side folded so easily.

Conclusion

At the moment, F95 is hot with wins over Eintracht Frankfurt, HSV, and that plucky mid-week draw against the champs, Borussia Dortmund. Meier’s squad grows in its confidence to play competitively against anyone in the Bundesliga. Today, their passing was sharp and their defense solid. And finally, they looked more dangerous on top with Rafael and Ilsö as his deputy. Dangerous enough to confidently stay in 1.Bundesliga. Their confidence especially benefits Lumpi though – the diminutive defensive midfielder played what was probably his best match of the season so far. And van den Bergh is emerging as a dominating leftback in the Bundesliga.

Keep your eye on this plucky team. Bandwagon yet, anyone?

Header courtesy of bild.de & Getty images

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Travis serves as an editor and regular columnist here. He writes for Howler magazine's website, as well as The Short Pass where he covers the USL and other topics. Born and groomed in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Travis is a college English instructor in Pittsburgh. Coffee, books, and sports are his passions. His writing has also appeared in Bloomberg Sports, the Good Man Project, and his former blog, Sportisourstory.tumblr.com, and elsewhere. He tweets at @tptimmons. Heja BVB!

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