Sébastien Haller Flying High with the Eagles

After a hugely disappointing Rückrunde last season, Eintracht Frankfurt have seen a big change in fortunes in this season’s Hinrunde and a large part of that is down to striker Sébastien Haller. Bundesliga Fanatic takes a closer look at die Adler’s man of the moment.

With 14 points from 9 games Frankfurt find themselves comfortably in 7th place in the Bundesliga table and are through to the round of 16 in the DFB Pokal having overcome Schweinfurt in round 2. Quite an improvement when you consider that they only took 13 points from the whole of the second half of last season making them the league’s worst performers in the Rückrunde. They were also the lowest scorers with a lowly 14 goals in 17 games.

This season Niko Kovac’s side have already scored 10 so what has changed? Well they now have Sébastien Haller in their ranks and the 23-year-old Frenchman has made a hugely impressive start to life at the Commerzbank Arena scoring four league goals.

Few would have missed his spectacular overhead scissor-kick goal against Stuttgart as he hit an injury time winner on matchday 7 and it will no doubt be many people’s choice for Goal of the Season. Haller also scored an important penalty against Dortmund last week in their 2-2 draw, which was the third successive league game he’d scored in.

Two more goals arrived in midweek in the DFB Pokal and Eintracht fans must be thinking that the €7 million they paid Utrecht for the striker in the summer is a real bargain.

“We thought in the summer about how we could improve the team. We’ve done that with Sébastien. If he stays healthy, he can have a big career” Eagles trainer Niko Kovac has said about Haller.

There is more to Haller than meets the eye. The first thing you see is a big, tall striker, who standing at 6ft 2 inches is robust and a handful for defenders. The stats show that he leads the entire Bundesliga in making challenges (278), attacking challenges (238) as well as aerial challenges (145) so clearly he like to put himself about.

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But, he’s not just a big man using his size to bully defenders. He has the vision to bring in other players, as his two assists and 11 chances created show. He’s also not averse to tracking back to help out in his own half. This however is something Niko Kovac might want to change as Haller also leads the way in losing the ball in his own half (126).

He keeps a cool head as his penalties against both Dortmund and Köln show. His best scoring season for Utrecht in the Dutch Eredivisie was in 2015-16 when he bagged 17 goals and if he can get into double figures for Frankfurt this season, it will be considered a very good start.

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Haller began his career at Auxerre, but struggled to find the goals in the first team after impressing with the second string. A move to Holland, first on loan kick started things and he scored a total of 51 goals in 98 appearances in all competitions for the club.

The Bundesliga is impressed with Haller and the player is equally impressed with his new surroundings. “I’m seriously impressed. The atmosphere in our stadium with our fantastic fans alone is fantastic. A lot of fans come to support us in away games, too. I’ve never experienced anything like it. I’m also really impressed with the city” he told the Bundesliga’s official website.

“There’s a lot of potential in our team. Our team is fairly new and we have to refine our understanding, but I’m sure we can make more of our potential.”

Potential is something that Haller is already delivering on and he’s already become a real star of the Hinrunde so far. With the likes of Marco Fabian and Alex Meier out long-term with injuries, an in-form Sébastien Haller is just what the doctor ordered for Eintracht and they’ll have their sights set firmly on the European places come the end of the season.

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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.

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