Eintracht Frankfurt 3 – 3 Borussia Dortmund – Frankfurt come from two down to maintain unbeaten record

by Aleix Gwilliam

It was as good a game as we’ll see this season, as an in-form team Eintracht Frankfurt managed to come back from 0-2 to draw 3-3 against Borussia Dortmund on a rainy night in Hesse. Klopp’s men seemed to be cruising at half time but Frankfurt’s never-say-die attitude resulted in two quick goals after the restart and despite conceding again soon after, in a 5-minute spell that brought 3 goals, they managed to level it once again, remaining unbeaten this season and piling the pressure on Dortmund as they now drop 7 points behind Bayern.

Lineups and tactics

Armin Veh  put out the same XI and the same 4-2-3-1 for the first four consecutive matches of the Bundesliga and almost for a fifth, but for the injury of striker Olivier Occéan, who was replaced by Erwin Hoffer, scorer of a goal last Friday at Nürnberg. Once again, Takashi Inui and Stefan Aigner would be the main threats on the wings, overlapped by Oczipka and Jung respectively and Alex Meier would provide the power and the strength behind the striker. Veh also insisted in the central defensive pairing of Zambrano and Anderson, despite the Peruvian’s poor performances and decision making in the last few matches, now up against some of the most dangerous attackers in the league.

On the other side, Jürgen Klopp has a problem that many managers in the Bundesliga would like to have and that’s a hard choice to make in order to pick his attacking midfielders. After last week’s double against HSV, Ivan Perišić made his second consecutive start on the left wing, and it was Mario Götze who was left on the bench this time with Marco Reus playing behind Lewandowski and Kuba on the right. Once again, Klopp started Moritz Leitner replacing Ilkay Gündogan, although the young Bavarian still seems a bit off the pace.

The Match

The game started brightly for both teams. Dortmund were defending with their usual high line and Eintracht were a little deeper but looking solid. The first chance of the game fell to Moritz Leitner after good work by Łukasz Piszczek on the right wing, forcing Kevin Trapp into a good save from short range. Straight away came Eintracht’s reply, with Takashi Inui shooting just wide after a fast counter attack. Eintracht’s defence were frustrating the Dortmund attack with excellent positioning, often forcing Klopp’s men into offside positions, despite getting to their area easily. However, Dortmund was the team with the ball, dominating possession for most of the half and forcing Eintracht into fruitless counter attacking attempts and long balls.

The pressure finally paid off on 24 minutes. Łukasz Piszcek, who had encountered no opposition from Inui on the right wing, picked up the ball and cut inside, unleashing a left-footed shot inside the area that rebounded first Oczipka and then off Anderson, leaving Trapp off-balance and the ball bouncing into the net. Eintracht decided to bring their defence up a bit more and with both teams playing with high lines, the match was being played over a space of no more than 30 yards apart between both defenses in midfield. Dortmund doubled their lead three minutes later, although luck played no part in this. Once again, Piszczek was given freedom on the right wing and cut it back when he got to the by-line, a pass that instead of going inside the area went to the edge of it where Marco Reus was waiting, placing an impeccable right side-footed shot that bounced off Trapp’s right-hand post and into the goal, as precise a goal as we’ll see all season.

This goal seemed to kill Eintracht off completely. They were running out of ideas and their men up front were playing no part in the game. Hoffer was receiving no service, Meier was not in the game and Inui and Aigner seemed invisible if not frustrated. Dortmund seemed to be cruising and could have even increased their lead had Perišić and Kuba been more precise with their headers from corners. Eintracht had a couple of set-piece chances through Meier before half time but they didn’t trouble Weidenfeller much, and the break could not come soon enough for Veh’s men.  Was their great run finally over?

Rallying  after a disappointing first half Eintracht took the initiative after the break and the second half could not have started better for the home side and worse for the away team. Marco Reus was substituted for Mario Götze after limping off at half time after his clash with Schwegler earlier. And things went from bad to worse for die Schwarzgelben. Sebastian Kehl got dispossessed on the edge of the Eintracht area by Schwegler, who quickly brought the ball out of their half and gave it to Inui who, reminiscent of Kagawa last year, led the fast counter attack, feeding Aigner on the right, who cut inside and shot with his left past Weidenfeller, capping off a wonderful team move. If things had gone from bad to worse for Dortmund, they got… well… even worse just a minute later. Eintracht’s strong right wing saw Sebastian Jung play a through ball towards the by-line to Aigner, who whipped in a cross to the far post, where Takashi Inui arrived unmarked to power the header past the helpless BVB keeper and into the net, sending the stadium and the home fans into raptures. In barely 90 seconds, Eintracht had gone from dead and buried to equalizing a match that seemed lost.  Over in Gelsenkirchen Schalke  fans had received news of this comeback during their own game against Mainz and themselves went into rapturous applause.

One thing became clear in the second half.  Dortmund aren’t the team  they were last year and they have showed a lot of defensive frailties in the last two games which the opposition have capitalized on over and over again. However, Eintracht’s eagerness to attack brought a lack of concentration at the back. Bamba Anderson was caught in possession by Mario Götze just outside his area after not dealing with a seemingly easy ball. The young German midfielder was suddenly 1-on-1 with Trapp, exquisitely finishing the move with the outside of his foot under Trapp’s legs, putting BVB in the lead once again after just three minutes of Inui’s equalizer. He very nearly made it 2-4 minutes later after dribbling outside the area and forcing Trapp into a save. Götze changed Dortmund’s attack, with them now focusing on attacking through the middle and not on the right flank like in the first half, with Inui now playing a bit deeper covering Piszczek better. However, Dortmund were struggling to keep hold of the ball for more than 3 or 4 passes, playing with little precision and gifting the ball to Eintracht, who looked menacing on the counter. It was nearly an equalizing goal soon after when Zambrano played a long ball to the left wing, which Inui brought down to the deck beautifully. It was a similar position to his goals against HSV and Nürnberg the other weeks, with the tricky Japanese player cutting inside and shooting with his right foot, but this time he choose power over precision and it was easily saved by Weidenfeller.

This was definitely a game of two halves, as Eintracht now had the ball and were bossing the game with ease. They looked dangerous every time they moved forward and Dortmund seemed nervy and vulnerable, especially in defense, with Hummels and Weidenfeller not doing much to calm the heartbeat of the traveling fans. And the finger could quite easily have been pointed at Hummels in the next move, as Oczipka took a short corner to Inui, who gave it back to the former Leverkusen man, who whipped a cross in that found Anderson’s head, flicking it into the goal past Weidenfeller. He was not troubled at all by his marker Hummels, making it an easy header by the Brazilian and giving him the chance to make amends for his previous mistake.

The game was now frantic and wide open, and Dortmund were beginning to get frustrated and started attacking en masse. Perišić and Blaszczykowski had been replaced by Großkreutz and Gündogan respectively and the men in yellow were throwing everything they had into attack. They definitely had their chances, and it could have been further disaster for Eintracht as both Zambrano and Anderson gifted balls inside their own half that Klopp’s men couldn’t capitalize on, leaving the former Mainz manager furious on the sidelines with his team and anyone around him. Despite Dortmund piling on the pressure in the end, Florian Meyer blew for full time, but not before sending Klopp off for getting in the 4th official’s face with aggressiveness and a facial expression that will surely make more than one newspaper page tomorrow.

Final Verdict

Frankfurt might have lost their 100% record but they won’t be bothered about it. At 0-2, anyone inside the stadium would have settled for a point but the scoreline doesn’t tell the whole story. Dortmund did not play particularly well despite scoring three goals. The first goal was a lucky one and the third one was a huge mistake by Anderson. Eintracht showed a lot of team spirit and not many teams will come back from 0-2 against Dortmund this year. Yes, they might not be the same as last year, but the champions are still one of the main forces in the Bundesliga and will most definitely be up there come May, something which on one hand says a lot about the home team’s performance and on the other means that the men in yellow can never be ruled out, even when playing badly.

This was most definitely a game of two halves. Dortmund dominated the first one, or rather Eintracht showed nothing in it. Their front men were anonymous throughout and Erwin Hoffer will be disappointed after having a great chance to impress today. However, with Occéan set to be sidelined for the next two weeks and with Veh showing consistency in the lineups, he will surely have at least one more chance to shine. Piszczek ran the right wing in the first half and caused a lot of problems in attack, being Dortmund’s best player in the first 45’.  The second one was a whole different story and the entrance of Götze changed his team’s style of play, now playing narrower. Eintracht now though took control of the ball, capitalizing on Dortmund’s slow start to the half by scoring two quick-fire goals. Whilst it seemed that Dortmund didn’t get out of second gear in the first half, Eintracht went full throttle in the second, creating all sorts of problems for the Dortmund backline, giving Klopp plenty of food for thought for his next match, not in terms of team selection but tactics-wise. Inui and Aigner finally appeared and Schwegler put in a good captain’s performance in midfield. However, Eintracht still seem to have problems in central defense, with Zambrano and this time also Anderson both showing lack of concentration in key moments, and the Peruvian lucky to just get a yellow card for a late, late challenge on Lewandowski in the second half. However, they did keep Lewandowski relatively quiet for most of the match so credit to them for that.

Eintracht will most definitely come out of this match the happier side and will be looking for 3 points at home against Freiburg on Sunday, coming into the match with high morale after tonight’s encounter. Dortmund however will have to work hard on things, with three difficult games coming in quick succession, starting with Gladbach at home on Saturday, Manchester City away in the Champions League on Wednesday and Hannover away the following weekend. They are now 7 points behind league leaders Bayern München and they cannot afford to drop more points if they want to have a chance to make it three titles in a row. The pressure is on.

Man of the match

This is a tough one to call since a man of the match award is supposed to be for a whole match, not half of it. Piszczek was very impressive for the first 45’ but did nothing notable in the second half, while Eintracht’s men were invisible for the first half but put in an excellent performance in the second. Mario Götze livened things up when he came on but due to his tireless running and omnipresence in attack and defence, tonight’s award goes to Bastian Oczipka. He was not helped by Inui in the first half in covering the right wing and, if it hadn’t been for him, it could have been more than just 0-2 come half time. In the second half, his set pieces and constant crossing from the left, including his assist for Anderson’s goal, were a huge threat that unsettled Dortmund’s defence and Weidenfeller, while he was keeping Kuba quiet the whole time in defence. An excellent performance all in all from the tireless fullback.

Attendance: 51500

 Header courtesy of derwesten.de

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Author:Aleix Gwilliam

Is a 25-year-old living in Barcelona who gets more pleasure from watching German football than from going to watch his hometown team at the Camp Nou every other week. Passionate about European football and its history, you can follow him on Twitter at @AleixGwilliam
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