With only 7 games remaining in the Bundesliga season, Eintracht Frankfurt’s path to Champions League qualification is now in the club’s own hands. Thanks to some help from FC Düsseldorf, Die Adler have jumped into 4th place and now have a hold on the final Champions League spot. While the road ahead is not easy, Eintracht now control it’s own destiny in Champions League Qualification.
Schalke 04 1:2 Eintracht Frankfurt
In a game that saw Eintracht Frankfurt come out looking like much the better squad, Huub Stevens made several key adjustments to completely change the game in favor of Schalke. For the first 20 minutes, Eintracht came out with more energy, more pace, and a quick attack that left Schalke constantly chasing from behind. Filip Kostic was wreaking havoc on Shalke’s right flank for much of the early going. Taking advantage of gaping holes in the defense, Kostic constantly pushed forward and made runs into empty space. Finally, Kostic connected on a superb pass to Ante Rebic who changed pace, switched feet, and left Alexander Nübel grasping for air. Rebic placed the shot home and Eintracht led 1:0.
Only seconds later, Martin Hinteregger took an interception at midfield and almost caught Nübel napping with an on target blast that the keeper just barely kept out of the net.
But Schalke’s defense dug in. Midfielders Omar Mascarell, Nassim Boujellab and Suat Serdar began to choke out the middle of the field. Wing Backs Bastian Oczipka and Daniel Caligiuri began to attack passes on the edge, making life difficult for Da Costa and Kostic. The two also began to play the ball up to Guido Burgstaller and Breel Embolo every time they won the ball back. The quick hitting action began to find it’s way through the Eintracht defense despite several nice plays by both Hinteregger and Mokato Hasabe. The pressure began to build and in the 21st minute Hinteregger’s takedown on Breel Embolo led to a foul and a Schalke free kick from the right wing.
Embolo’s header off the free kick was knocked away by Kevin Trapp, but Suat Serdar was left virtually unchecked at the back post and beat Trapp to even the score 1:1.
As the game turned into a grinding back and forth affair that saw both teams struggle to get decent chances, Eintracht finally began to make waves when Gonçalo Paciência came in for Jonathan de Guzman at half time.
Paciência gave the attack a much needed boost as he was constantly testing Schalke’s last line of defense for a way through. His runs and aggressive passing where just what Jovic and Rebic needed to play off of. Eintracht began wear the Royal Blues down, and when 90′ came, the Eagles really began to pour it on. Starting with a free kick won by Luka Jovic, The Eagles picked up the pace and began to encircle their prey. Eintracht held possession for virtually the entire extra time, and when Sedart took down Kostic with a step on the ankle in the 93rd minute, Eintracht threw everything forward. Sedart’s second yellow on the play allowed Frankfurt to be a man up, and shortly afterward as luck would have it, a ball found a hand. At first, it was as if it went unnoticed, Rebic scrambled desperately up and down the left side of the box, looking for a cross. When his cross into Jovic was parried away it seemed as if the referee was going to let it go. A mad scramble, protests from Eintracht, players still playing for the game winning goal, and then the referee put his finger to his ear.
Everyone watching knew what was coming next. You could see Ante Rebic and Luka Jovic celebrating while the ref was still at the VAR board. The referee returned, Luka Jovic lined himself up behind the ball and did what he does…..put the ball in the back of the net. End of time, game over, Schalke 1:2 Eintracht Frankfurt.
No “Moody Diva” Yet
Eintracht have put themselves in control of the final Champions League Spot. With both Wolfsburg and Borussia Monchengladbach struggling for much of the Ruckrunde, the surging Eagles have set themselves up in beautiful position. The Eagles have yet to lose in the year 2019, either in the Europa League or in Bundesliga play. And while things could have been better (4 straight draws in League play), the gents from Frankfurt have handled their business every time they step on the pitch.
This year’s clubs seems set for die launische Diva to make her appearance. From FIFA.com:
“However, the name ‘moody diva’ was not unearned. The football could be pleasing on the eye, but lethargy and a certain aloofness were never far away either, and the greatest setback in club history was looming on the horizon. World-class Hungarian Lajos Detari led Eintracht to their fourth and last German cup triumph in 1988, before Uwe Bein, a 1990 FIFA World Cup winner and another elegant playmaker, became the dominant figure of the club’s last great era.
Once again conjuring up football from a future age, the team dominated the 1991/92 Bundesliga season with crisp short passing and thrilling attacking play. However, points were unnecessarily dropped here and there, and Eintracht ultimately tossed away the title on the last day in a 2-1 defeat to practically relegated Hansa Rostock, dull but consistent Stuttgart seizing the crown instead.”
As injuries begin to pile, it will be interesting to see if the squad depth is enough to carry them through to the final spot.
Sebastian Rode, Martin Hinteregger, Almamy Toure, Gonçalo Paciência, and Lucas Torro brought in a lot of fresh and capable bodies in December. A few new (Rode, Hinteregger, Toure), a couple coming back from Injury. Each has been desperately needed in the second half of the season in order to keep legs fresh. Sebastian Rode has been an enormous pick up for Frankfurt. Frankfurt is 5-4-0 with Rode in the lineup since he came on loan from Borussia Dortmund in December. Although he is battling calf problems, he is patrolling the midfield and keeping Eintracht in possession. His link up play with Rebic and Haller has been a huge part of why Eintracht have been able to stay unbeaten this year.
Hinteregger has done more than fill in and keep legs fresh, he’s been a downright dominant force on the back line. His aggression in both going after the ball and getting it upfield have been completely dynamic for Eintracht. Die Adler haven’t given up a goal in 6 of the last 8 games, all with Hinteregger in the starting 11. He’s locking down the left side of the defense, and allowing Filip Kostic to create chaos upfield going forward. He’s taken a lot of pressure off of both Kostic and the midfield in front of him with his defensive prowess.
December additions where well needed, especially since a few of the additions had been subtractions. Gonçalo Paciência has been absolutely terrific in his time on the pitch. He is leading Eintracht Frankfurt in Shots per 90 minutes (6.00), Expected Goals per 90 minutes (0.84) and Expected Assists per 90 minutes (.45) even after his road back from a torn meniscus in September. Torro and Timothy Chandler can hopefully find their way back into the lineup as they both also battle back from knee injuries.
Eintracht’s road to a Champions League Position is completely in their hands. Every game, with the exception of Bayer, is against opponents underneath them on the table. They can create some distance, and also will get some help. Wolfsburg and Bayer Leverkusen always dangerous opponents, especially away from Commerzbank Arena. Eintracht has won 4 straight games on the road, and has not lost in it’s last ten road games. Augsburg, Hertha and Mainz will come to Frankfurt and will try to play the spoiler. It all could come down to the final week of the season in a Matchup against Bayern Munich.
Other Matches Eintracht Will Be Watching
R.B. Leipzig have four key dates remaining that could greatly affect things for Eintracht.
- Matchday 29 vs. Wolfsburg
- Matchday 30 at Mönchengladbach
- Matchday 35 vs. Bayern Munich
- Matchday 30 vs. RB Leipzig
- Matchday 34 vs. 1899 Hoffenheim
- Matchday 36 vs. Borussia Dortmund.
Both Mönchengladbach and Eintracht have the chance to play spoiler as well, as the final game of the season could determine the Bundesliga Champion. It is an exciting race in the Bundesliga this year, and will be until the final match day.
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