October 24, 2017

Eintracht Frankfurt 1 – 1 Greuther Fürth – Kevin Trapp and Alex Meier’s record goal gift hosts lucky point

22 seconds was all it took Eintracht to score the first goal of the night, but 22 seconds was all that they could take from the game too as a lacklustre performance combined with the excellent Kevin Trapp stopped resilient and lively Fürth from taking all three points. Zoltan Stieber equalised for the away side with an exquisite chip early in the second half but thanks to Trapp and poor finishing from the visitors Eintracht Frankfurt escaped in their most disappointing performance of the season.

Lineups and formation

Eintracht looked to carry on their excellent home form and were encouraged by the return of captain Pirmin Schwegler in the lineup after missing last week’s defeat at Stuttgart due to injury. Carlos Zambrano missed out with a broken toe, with Vadim Demidov taking his place to partner Bamba Anderson in central defence. Up front, Oliver Occéan started up front against his old team and looked to kick-start his season and regain the form that saw him help Fürth to promotion last season.

Mike Büskens once again tweaked his lineup to counter Eintracht’s 4-2-3-1 and played Edgar Prib in central attacking midfield behind striker Gerald Asamoah. Edu dropped to the bench in place of Milorad Peković, who partnered Stephan Fürstner in holding midfield. Zoltan Stieber and Sercan Sararer would exploit the space behind the offensive Eintracht fullbacks, Bastian Oczipka and Sebastian Jung and the added man in midfield was meant to counter the strong core of Schwegler and Rode.  Armin Veh stated that he expects Fürth not to defend too deep, something that Alex Meier should attempt to exploit in search for his 7th goal of the season.


The Match

First half

As quick as matches can start, this was a pretty quick one. Straight from kick-off, Sebastian Rode picked up the ball from midfield and ran to the Fürth goal, with his subsequent shot being parried by Max Grün. Alex Meier was there to pick up the pieces and let out a shot across goal that beat the diving Grün and put Eintracht one up. The goal was timed at 22 seconds and is the fastest one in the Bundesliga so far this season.

However, true to their spirit in recent weeks, Fürth remained resilient and, as Veh predicted pre-match, pushed up higher and higher and pressed Eintracht into their own half. Seeing most of the ball, the away side played most of their football inside Frankfurt’s half but were let down by their final ball. The goal seemed to have made Eintracht complacent and Sercan Sararer nearly equalized after his excellent volley was tipped for a corner by Kevin Trapp after an excellent scooped pass from Heinrich Schmidtgal.

Eintracht’s concentration seemed all over the place as their long balls to the attack were either going nowhere or were intercepted. Their defensive concentration (or lack of) almost cost them dearlt too. Sebastian Jung’s back-pass to Trapp was a terrible one and Gerald Asamoah latched onto it going one-on-one with Trapp, but his lack of pace and poor finishing allowed Trapp to save and Anderson to clear.

Like in previous games, despite going a goal down in psychologically-demoralising circumstances (i.e. Hoffenheim two weeks ago three times), Fürth kept the ball and the defense pushed higher up, meaning that Occéan was seeing none of it and remained virtually isolated. The long balls that Eintracht were attempting weren’t reaching the Canadian and gave possession straight back to Mike Büskens’ men repeatedly.

Occéan, though, had his chance soon after. Two Fürth defenders got in each other’s way with a bouncing ball and allowed the former Kleeblätter to run through on goal, although his poor first touch and poorer second one saw him dispossessed and the chance disappear. He tried to redeem himself seconds later with a shot from outside the area that dipped beautifully and looked destined for the net but an excellent save by Grün, like many we’ve seen him do this season, meant it went for a corner.

Eintracht were enjoying a brief spell of domination and pressure but Fürth were still pushing up and Edgar Prib found himself through on goal beating the offside trap, although his position slightly to the left of the goal saw his shot easily saved by Trapp.

Despite going one down at the interval, it was Fürth who had had the better chances (8 to Eintracht’s 5) but their inability to convert their chances meant that the result wasn’t favorable.

Second half

Fürth carried on their impetuous manner at the start of the second half and it was soon rewarded. Just after six minutes had passed, an excellent and slick move saw Asamoah receive the ball from deep inside his own half, which he laid off first touch to Prib, who himself put in a beautiful first-time ball to Stieber. The Hungarian found himself one-on-one with Trapp with 30 yards to run and beautifully chipped it over the Eintracht keeper from 20 yards out and put the away side level.

This goal was no more than Fürth deserved and Eintracht seemed to come out without their first half momentum for the second period. Once again, the lack of concentration from the home side became apparent and Bamba Anderson, who had been having a decent game so far, made yet another mistake this season and misjudged a bouncing goal kick from Max Grün. The ball bounced over the Brazilian defender and the battling Gerald Asamoah was there to pick up the pieces and unleashed a great volley, only to be met by yet another excellent save from Trapp who came out and read the play in time. The former Kaiserslautern goalkeeper kept his side in the game as Gerald Asamoah held his head in his hands in disbelief.

Sebastian Rode, an early doubt for the match today, was having a quiet game so far but had the chance to put his side in front on 64 minutes, as a Bastian Oczipka cross from the left was cleared by the Fürth defence, only to fall to the German U21 star, but his shot cleared the bar and another good chance went by.

Frustration was setting into the home players, likely sparked by the crowd’s impatience, as it was clear that this wasn’t the Eintracht that we’ve become accostumed to this season. Imprecise, careless and lacking ideas up front, Veh’s men didn’t really do much with their slightly higher ball possession (52-48) and Fürth looked more likely to make something happen. Sebastian Jung was booked for a cynical challenge and captain Pirmin Schwegler likewise two minutes later. Even Sebastian Rode unleashed a reckless kick after losing possession but the up-until-then lenient referee Herr Schmidt starting handing out the cards, which further increased their frustration and the crowd’s.

The ever-reliable Oczipka also had his shaky moment tonight, as his mistake saw Serarer move inside and square it to Asamoah, who backheeled it to Fürstner. The midfielder ran onto the ball and unleashed a great shot that once again was brilliantly saved by Trapp. For a team that had only scored six goals going into tonight’s game, the chances were coming thick and fast, helped mostly and involuntarily by their rivals.

Eintracht were not dead yet and Alex Meier played Oczipka in on the left with 15 minutes to go, but the former Leverkusen man’s cross missed everybody and rolled across the front of the goal waiting for the tap in. This was the final straw for Olivier Occéan today, and the crowd finally started to get on his back, as his appalling display highlighted the imminent need for a new competent striker at the Commerzbank-Arena, as any striker with instinct would have been on the end of that cross.

However, with five minutes left, Fürth could have had the last laugh. Sercan Sararer picked up the ball on the left flank and shot straight at Trapp, who could only parry it with excellent reflexes. The rebound fell to Sararer again but his shot was wild and went over the bar. Had he seen Edgar Prib alone in the middle, the end result could have been different.

Final verdict

It was a totally unrecognisable Eintracht side tonight. Their dream start promised more flowing attacking play by this year’s Bundesliga surprise package but it was not to be. Despite getting four out of seven of their shots on target tonight, Max Grün only needed to pull off a decent save or two. Olivier Occéan’s performance was incredibly lacklustre to say the least. Despite his one good chance in the first half, his positioning, decision-making, first touch and finishing were not worthy of the main striker in a team in the top 3 of the Bundesliga. Admittedly, the options on the bench (Erwin Hoffer and Karim Matmour) don’t offer obvious improved alternatives but one cannot help but feel that with a half-decent striker, this Eintracht team would have won today and could easily challenge for a top 4 finish.

Despite not having Carlos Zambrano tonight, usually at the centre of most of Eintracht’s defensive mistakes, the home defence were all over the place. Even the reliable Bastian Oczipka had his moments tonight and Bamba Anderson made yet another mistake which could have been very costly. Vadim Demidov didn’t seem comfortable at all either, on or off the ball, and looked very shaky. Even Sebastian Jung had little protagonism, not going on his usual runs up the right wing and losing his marker on more than one occasion.

As for Fürth, they say that the table doesn’t lie, but one cannot help but feel that the fact that they are bottom of the table (second bottom after tonight’s draw, leapfrogging Augsburg) is a bit harsh. The problem that Mike Büskens’ side has is that they can’t score goals. Tonight’s match saw them create 16 chances, but only 4 were on target. Asamoah had two clear ones and Sararer had a couple. Had it not been for the heroics of Trapp, die Kleeblätter could have easily had 3 or 4 tonight. Before tonight’s match, their tally of goals conceded so far (15) was only two more than Eintracht (3rd), three more than Bayer Leverkusen (5th) and four more than Borussia Dortmund (4th).  If they can manage to address the attacking problem, they might have a fighting chance since Prib and Serarer can provide service and Asamoah works his socks off up front and deserved a goal tonight, so a striker who could net 10 goals in the Rückrunde could be the key.

The result means that Fürth will leave the happier side. Eintracht will feel that it’s two points lost and their performance left a lot to be desired. Eintracht travel to the Allianz Arena next week and much needs to improve if they don’t want to come away with a hiding. Fürth host Borussia Mönchengladbach, who have the second worse defense in the league (18 goals), an encouraging statistic if we take into account the amount of chances they can create. Tonight’s match exposed both clubs’ biggest problems: for Eintracht, concentration; for Fürth: finishing. Addressing them could be the difference between European football and mid-table mediocrity or between another season in the Bundesliga, or inevitable relegation.

Man of the match

Despite hard-working performances by Gerald Asamoah, Edgar Prib and Sercan Sararer, today’s man of the match is a no brainer. Kevin Trapp put in a display that only furthers the opinions that consider him one of the best (young) goalkeepers in the country. His three or four key saves tonight kept his side in the game and he was the only calm individual in the Eintracht rearguard. Trapp frustrated Asamoah, Serarer, Fürstner and the travelling fans, as his excellent reflexes, positioning and shot-stopping meant that Eintracht walked away with a lucky point today. Veh can rest assured that his man between the sticks is a safety guarantee; his problem lies at the other end of the pitch. However, naming Trapp as MoM speaks volumes of Fürth’s performance today, a somewhat paradoxical achievement considering that the opposition today was the lowest scoring team in the league.

Header courtesy of sportschau.de

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Aleix Gwilliam

Is a 27-year-old living in Barcelona who gets more pleasure from watching German lower-league football than from going to watch his hometown team at the Camp Nou every other week. Passionate about European football, its history and culture, you can follow him on Twitter at @AleixGwilliam

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