For Eintracht Frankfurt, it’s amazing what a difference a day makes.
The Frankfurt sky had been falling on fans for several weeks. Fans were at their wits’ end. The club looked awkward, unproductive, and unmotivated. In the span of six days, the high spirits lingering from winning the DFB Cup victory in May had turned into talks of relegation and a wasted season. The loss to SSV Ulm in the opening round of this year’s cup tournament was a shock to all watching. Just a quick scroll through social media, and you’d know that it would be a long season for die Adler and their supporters.
Neither management nor Hütter have waivered from their process.
“The players need time; we need trust,” said Fredi Bobic after Frankfurt was bounded from the Pokal. “After two games, you cannot say that the newcomers are not able to do anything and are bad finds. You have to give this development time to the players. ”
While the loss to Bayern in the SuperCup shook Eintracht, it was the loss in Ulm that really hurt.
“Maybe today we also missed the heart that the Ulmer played with a little,” said Dd Disaster hits us” said defender Danny Da Costa after the loss.
The first goal by Steffen Kienle in the 48th minute was a punch in the stomach. The second put Frankfurt on the mat. However, as hard as it was to see, there were things in that game that brought a glimmer of hope, and you could actually see some of what Hütter is trying to install.
“There were positive things here,” said Hütter. “What I did not like was how we resolved the game from the back. The backlash from the back is missing; we have to make it better. There we can improve. The game itself was not terrible.”
- Rönnow was much improved over his play in the SuperCup fiasco. His positioning, timing, and anticipation where much better. The first goal was avoidable, and he should have knocked it away, but you could begin to see why management picked him as Hradecky’s replacement.
- Luka Jovic was terrific in the first half, and teammates where finding him. His flying bottom-foot attempt just missed off the post, and he was offside by about a half-step on another big chance. After he took a knock to the head late in the first half, he was never the same.
- Mijat Gacinovic was very active and also visibly agitated at the physicality Ulm was playing with. His timing was just a bit off all day.
- While they where creating chances, especially late in the first half, they also passed several up. But you could see the team was reacting more and thinking less than they had in the preseason.
“I’m never afraid of a faltering season. You have to keep humility in today’s competition of the Bundesliga before the season. We have that, too. But I’m not shivering before the season. But on the contrary, I am quite sure that as Eintracht Frankfurt, we are showing exactly what we have shown: stability, solidarity, and we have a good sports team too.”.
– Eintracht Frankfurt President Peter Fisher
SC Freiburg 0:2 Eintracht Frankfurt
Opening day against SC Freiburg brought more curiosity than excitement. Thanks to the late-comers from the World Cup, injuries in the preseason, the creation of the “second training unit” with well known vets, and the new addition of Phillip Kostic, it was hard to anticipate what Eintracht would look like. Even in the preseason friendlies, continuity was scarce.
Freiburg and Eintracht opened last season with a 0-0 draw in Freiburg. Eintracht fans were hoping that this year would not be a repeat. Hütter started the game in his preferred 4-4-2 shape. Eintracht’s starting showed several peculiarities, specifically with Tawatha (LW) and Gacinovic (FW).
Freiburg took control of the game early. Sloppy ball-handling and poor marking led to Freiburg creating chance after chance in the early going. Eintracht could get nothing going, and Freiburg looked to take control of the game. Rönnow was up to the task, perfectly positioned to turn away each shot. Poor marking off an early throw-in by Christian Günter to a wide-open blast just outside the box by Pascal Stenzel. Rönnow picked it up through a sea of bodies to deflect it, and his diving save on the following rebound off a Nils Peterson laser from eight yards out was an absolute gem. Peterson broke through again at the 6-minute mark, and again Rönnow again would not be beaten. Eintracht finally knocked the doors down, after a Haller turnover. Salcedo chased down a clearance to build from the back and hit a hard strike to Haller, who had posted-up just outside the penalty box. Haller held off the defender and heel-tapped it directly to Nicolai Müller, who had circled in behind him. Müller just snuck it past Alexander Schwolow on the first touch to the lower left corner. A beautiful play by the Eagles put them in control of the game. This type created chance off precision passing and movement has been a rare sight around Frankfurt.
Eintracht’s lead was never really threatened after taking the lead in the tenth minute. Haller’s goal in the 82nd concreted the outcome.
Here are a few additional takeaways from the game:
- Frederik Rönnow placed himself in perfect position all game long. Even Florian Niederlechner’s miss at the four-minute mark was due largely to Rönnow’s positioning and getting his body wide on the shot. He cut down angles and squeezed the target area for 90 minutes.
- Sebastian Haller had a foot in both goals and put a ton of pressure on Freiburg the entire game. He was constantly a presence inside the box in a way that hadn’t been really seen since last season’s Hinrude. His heel tap to Müller was both perfectly placed and perfectly timed. His 82nd-minute rocket into the top right corner came off a nice combo with Danny da Costa. Haller took a throw-in from Gacinovic, tapped it to da Costa, and darted into open space directly between two defenders to get himself into terrific goal-scoring position. He accounted for 97 intensive runs on the game, and his movement was key the entire game. Even when not receiving the ball, he was a presence that Freiburg constantly had to deal with. His 18 duels won shows how hard he was working for the ball, and he scored on his only attempt. It was a nice and workmanlike performance from Haller.
- Much has been made about the lack of productivity from the new additions this offseason. But Rönnow, Müller, Evan N’Dicka, and Lucas Torro were huge parts of the win. Torro was a solid presence in the middle defensively and also linking defense to the attack. N’Dicka was well positioned after a bit of a rough early start. He recovered well when beat and fought for every ball. It was nice to see the new additions make a positive impact. Filip Kostic also came on late.
- The game opened with Eintracht unable to hold possession due to sloppy passing. Without the ball, they showed poor marking. Freiburg had four very nice chances in the opening minutes.
- Freiburg dominated statistically, having led the game in possession, attempts, tackles won, passes, passes on target, and tackles won. SCF also had 13 shots from inside the box to the Eagles’ four. Eintracht cannot count on winning these types of games against higher-quality opponents and must improve in every category.
- Eintracht racked up two yellows (Müller, 49th minute and Salcedo, 60th minute) and 13 fouls on the day. While the rugged and almost reckless defense by the Eagles will be needed to keep them in games, they need to clean up the fouling as the season continues.
- Timothy Chandler (knee cartilage) will miss up to six months after his surgery last week. Ante Rebic (foot) is still recovering from an injury sustained against Argentina in the World Cup. David Abraham spent the week in personal training.
Looking on the Brightside
Hütter still has potential on his side. Rebic and Kostic are working their way into the rotation. Chico Geraldes has yet to be seen. And there is offseason addition Allan Souza to consider. With the progression seen over the last 13 days, the roster potential is only looking up with these additions.