An Early Christmas Cracker – The Hessen Derby

It is a mere 24 kilometres as the crow flies between the Commerzbank Arena, the home of Eintracht Frankfurt, and the Böllenfalltor in Darmstadt, but the closeness ends there. It may not be a direct city rivalry, but this weekend’s derby clash between the Adler and the Lilien is fiercely anticipated and will grab the attention of the watching Hessen public of both footballing persuasions.

What is adding to the excitement is the fact that Sunday’s clash will be the first time the two have gone head-to-head in the Bundesliga since 1982. Back then Eintracht beat their local foes 2-0 at the old Waldstadion with goals from Korean Bum-Kun Cha and Norbert Nachtweih. Indeed there have only ever been four top flight encounters between the two sides with Frankfurt winning three to SV Darmstadt’s one.

The forthcoming match up has been highly anticipated since Dirk Schuster’s side clinched promotion to the German top-tier, and will be given extra spice (if any were needed) with their close proximity in the current Bundesliga standings. Darmstadt currently occupy 12th position just one point ahead of Frankfurt in 13th. Neither side has a win in their previous four league matches giving the three points on offer on Matchday 15 added value.

The Eintracht fans made their opinions perfectly clear following their side’s defeat to Mainz at the weekend making the players abundantly clear at the fulltime whistle that they were hugely dissatisfied and that they expected nothing but 100% against Darmstadt in the upcoming derby.

Some Adler fans, however, have taken the rivalry a little beyond what some people deem appropriate with some rather inflammatory posters appearing recently in the city depicting a Frankfurt fan with an axe strangling a female Darmstadt fan with the accompanying headline ’Destroy Darmstadt’.

Spokesmen from both clubs as well as fan groups have criticised the poster, but the police have designated this weekend’s game a ‘risk match’ and will deploy an increased presence to stop the rivalry from spilling over into anything more severe.

There are plenty of fierce rivalries in the Bundesliga with the Revierderby, the Nordderby and the Rhinederby all grabbing the headlines and providing some stunning atmospheres. Now the German top flight has another mouth-watering clash of local rivals and this weekend as Germany celebrates ‘Niklaustag’ there could well be fireworks at the Commerzbank Arena.

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Mathew Burt

A year spent living in Bremen got Mathew hooked on the Bundesliga with regular visits to the Weser Stadion getting in the way of his studies. Back in the UK now, he still keenly follows the Grün-Weißen and German football in general. Follow him on Twitter @matburt74.