Just like that.
Not only will there be no successful defense of Eintracht Frankfurt’s DFB Cup title, the defensive stand was nearly as abbreviated as it could possibly have been.
Frankfurt will continue to be the most-recent winner of the German federation’s tournament until someone else lays claim to it on 25 May 2019, but Saturday’s 2:1 loss to fourth division club SSV Ulm 1846 brought Eintracht’s run as the defending champion to a close at a young 91 days. They can thank the World Cup for slightly pushing competition dates to give them two weeks more with the title than what 1. FC Kaiserslautern had in 1996 when they were the last defending champion to fall in the first round.
Not to discount the value of being able to continually chant “German Cup Winner,” even when down several goals in the SuperCup, but Frankfurt still have to sample the major spoils from their May victory in Berlin: direct entry into the group stage of Europa League. The competition’s draw for groups comes on the last day of August.
And Frankfurt will be hoping that between now and then they have some answers.
In the span of six days, Eintracht have taken a 0:5 beating at the feet of FC Bayern München and been ousted by a Regionalliga club from the competition they won last season. Though the DFB Cup gave the club a title celebration for the ages, it would be fair to say that of the three competitions in which Eintracht Frankfurt are participating this season, it will be missed the least. Successful runs in the Bundesliga and Europa League would go a long way in helping fans forget what happened Saturday in Ulm.
The problem is that what happened in Ulm, in light of how the team looked last Sunday against Bayern, must give fans concern about how able this team, under the leadership of new trainer Adi Hütter, will manage their remaining work load.
“You can lose to FC Bayern,” said Hütter after the loss to Ulm. “That we lose here is disappointing. No need to beat around the bush about that. Clearly, I had imagined things differently. ”
Eintracht sporting director Bruno Hübner was perhaps even more blunt about the result.
“You cannot lose to a fourth-division club, said Hübner. “No need to make it sound better than it is. ”
Despite surrendering an early opportunity through a poor midfield turnover, Frankfurt had control of the match for most of the first half and had multiple chances to be first on the scoreboard. Twice, Danny da Costa provided terrific service to teammates from the right flank, only for Frankfurt to twice be denied a lead.
In the 26th minute, da Costa delivered a cross to Jetro Willems on the far side of the area. The Dutchman hammered a low shot toward the near post, only for Ulm keeper Christian Ortag to make the stop.
Da Costa was again at it near the end of the half, sending a ball into the area for a Luka Jovic deflection that found too much of the far post and bounced harmlessly away, preserving the scoreless score line.
Shortly after the sides changed sides, Ulm seized their moment.
A 48th-minute free kick led to a a headed attempt by Ardian Morina and a diving effort by Frederik Rönnow. The Danish keeper could not control the shot, however, opening the door for Steffen Kienle to pounce on the parried ball and convert the opportunity into a 1:0 lead. The hosts would double their lead when Vitalij Lux beat Carlos Salcedo in a sprint to a long ball and then beat Rönnow for the 2:0, which made Goncalo Pancienca’s late 1:2 more a point of honor than a legitimate threat to turn the match around.
“We were in the final twice consecutively, but now we have a different reality,” said 2018 DFB heroe ni rfefMajit Gacinovic. “We must speak with one another honestly and look that we quickly find a different path. “