Hoffenheim 0-4 Eintracht Frankfurt

HOFFENHEIM paid the price for missing a number of gilt-edged chances early on, as Eintracht Frankfurt struck twice towards the end of both the first and second half to make it two wins out of two in the new 1. Bundesliga season. The home side finished the match with nine men after right-back Stephan Schröck and substitute midfielder Sejad Salihović picked up red cards midway through the second half. However, Hoffenheim hadn’t looked like they were going to get back into the game even with a full complement of players on the pitch, with Frankfurt both mentally and tactically adroit after getting their two-goal cushion shortly before the break. In fairness to Hoffe coach Markus Babbel, whose side have now lost two league games and one cup tie in the 2012/13 campaign, he got his tactics spot on at the start of the match. Allowing the visitors to monopolize possession, the former Liverpool and Stuttgart defender utilised the counter-attacking talents of his foremost four players, as Hoffenheim created – but spurned – a number of one-on-one opportunities. But, once his team had fallen behind through an own goal and a spectacular Pirmin Schwegler strike, Babbel was unable to get his team back into the game, and could only watch on helplessly as his players lost their heads. Lose next week’s match at Freiburg, and the young tactician’s position might become untenable.

Match preview here.

Starting formations

Hoffenheim (4-2-3-1, from right to left): Tim Wiese; Schröck, Matthieu Delpierre, Marvin Compper, Fabian Johnson; Tobias Weis, Sebastian Rudy; Boris Vukčević, Kevin Volland, Roberto Firmino; Erin Derdiyok

Eintracht Frankfurt (4-2-3-1, from right to left): Kevin Trapp; Sebastian Jung, Carlos Zambrano, Bamba Anderson, Bastian Oczipka; Schwegler, Sebastian Rode; Stefan Aigner, Alexander Meier, Takashi Inui; Olivier Occéan Continue reading

Hoffenheim-Eintracht Frankfurt preview

ONE of Germany’s more storied clubs take on the footballing epitome of the nouveau riche this weekend, as Eintracht Frankfurt travel to Hoffenheim. While Frankfurt may not be Germany’s most fashionable or celebrated club these days, they do have a UEFA Cup and several DFB-Pokal trophies in the cabinet. Hoffenheim, on the other hand, were playing in the fifth-tier as recently as 1999. Since then, though, software mogul Dietmar Hopp has ploughed a small fortune into Hoffe, building a 30,000-seater stadium – that is usually at least 90 per cent full – and turning the club into an established top-flight side: albeit one unpopular with football fans who deem them to be a soulless club, and an un-German-like rich man’s plaything.

Despite having history on their side, Armin Veh’s Frankfurt spent last season in the second-tier. They returned to 1. Bundesliga with a bang, defeating Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 at their Commerzbank Arena last Saturday evening. Markus Babbel’s Hoffenheim, meanwhile, slumped to a 2-1 defeat at Borussia Mönchengladbach. This will be the seventh time these two sides have met in the top-flight, with Hoffenheim winning the last encounter – in April 2011 – 1-0. A 19-year-old Roberto Firmino scored his first goal for Hoffenheim that day, and continued his new club’s streak of never having lost to Eintracht Frankfurt. Continue reading

Eintracht Frankfurt 4-3 Alemannia Aachen

The first half formations.

Friedhelm Funkel endured a miserable return to Eintracht Frankfurt as his Aachen side lost an incredible topsy-turvy game at the Commerzbank-Arena. The 57-year-old must take a big portion of the blame too, because, anachronistically, he decided to start the match in a 3-5-2 system: which, coupled with a Boy Waterman blunder, saw Aachen 2-0 down and totally outclassed in the first half. Despite changing to a 4-4-2 diamond shape after the break and netting three late goals (for which Funkel deserves some credit, even if his team were still too flat until the final 12 minutes), Aachen still managed to lose after Karim Matmour’s 89th minute header. The home side won’t play many easier first 77 minutes of football than they did here all season. However, their inability to put games to bed reared its ugly head again, and if they’re not careful, this failing could end up costing Frankfurt promotion. Nevertheless, today’s – deserved – three points lifts them to the top of the table on goal difference, and that, I guess, is all that matters.

Match preview here.

The home side wasted no time in attempting to put this tie to bed, attacking their guests with urgency from the word ‘go’. With Aachen instantly sitting deep and compact, ultimately, Frankfurt were forced to play their football along the ground. And that they did – passing from side-to-side, before upping the pace and taking the ball forward through a chink. However, although Veh’s side did create one or two half-chances in the opening ten minutes, the visitors – who had star man David Odonkor on the bench – were like a synchronised swimming squad early on; keeping their positions with impressive discipline, the midfield and defence banks – switching between 3-5-2 and 5-3-2 effortlessly – moving in tandem to ensure that the corridors in the hosts’ final-third were as narrow as could be, and that any balls put into the box were simple enough for goalkeeper Boy Waterman to deal with. Continue reading

Eintracht Frankfurt-Alemannia Aachen preview

As recently as 2005, Alemannia Aachen were playing in the last-32 stage of the UEFA Cup. One year later, Eintracht Frankfurt were taking part in the same continental competition, albeit one they exited at the group stage despite remaining unbeaten against the three teams who progressed at their expense – Newcastle United, Celta Vigo and Fenerbahçe. Half a decade later, however, the good times are over for both clubs, and they meet on Sunday afternoon in a 2. Bundesliga clash which sees Friedhelm Funkel return to the club he coached between 2004 and 2009. After embarking on a star-heavy recruit drive over the summer, Aachen looked as though they’d be up there with Frankfurt – who retained the majority of their Bundesliga squad post-relegation – challenging for promotion to the top-flight.  Yet, despite having one of the tightest defences in the league, goals have proved hard to come by (a mere eight in 14 games), meaning that Aachen come into this game second-bottom in the table. Continue reading

Greuther Fürth 2-3 Eintracht Frankfurt

The first half formations

Karim Matmour’s late strike helped Eintracht Frankfurt come from 2-0 down to win a fairly even opening day 2. Bundesliga match 3-2. The Algerian international, on as a sub, benefited from some tactical indiscipline by SpVgg Greuther Fürth in the 89th minute to trap a slick cross-box pass from two-goal hero Alexander Meier, before burying his finish spectacularly into the bottom corner.

Match preview here  

The home side began the game like there was no tomorrow, most noticeably by pressing at pace when out of possession, and playing direct passes to the nippy wingers as soon as the ball was their’s to use. Rather than trying to match this style of play, Frankfurt instead did things more calmly, more concerned with keeping their 4-1-2-2-1 shape, and thus making it difficult for their hosts to make truly incisive passes or win any loose balls. And, whereas Fürth started their pressing about three-quarters of the way up the pitch, Frankfurt were more content to do their’s on or just behind the halfway line, one man at a time. Continue reading

Greuther Fürth-Eintracht Frankfurt preview

The 15,000-seater Trolli Arena is expected to be sold out tomorrow evening for the 2. Bundesliga opening round showdown between SpVgg Greuther Fürth and Eintracht Frankfurt. Two of the favourites for promotion, 2011/12 is Fürth’s 15th consecutive season in the second division, but the club’s fans must be feeling that this is now surely the year in which they enter the national top-flight for the first ever time. The Bavarian club were one of the dominant forces in German football prior to the formation of the Bundesliga in 1963, but after missing out on a place in that ‘by invitation only’ début season, Fürth have endured years of frustration since: including eight top-five finishes in the last 12 seasons. Continue reading

Eintracht Frankfurt 1-1 Werder Bremen

The general first half formations*. * = Silvestre was actually at left-back, and Pasanen at left-sided centre-back.

Two sides still too far away from mid-table security played out an entertaining, chance-heavy and yellow card-ridden 1-1 draw. Although Werder Bremen perhaps deserved the win on the balance of play, the fact they were held to a draw is unsurprising given that the last clean sheet they kept in the league was on December 4, 2010 against Wolfsburg.

This Friday night round 29 encounter pitted 13th against 12th – two sides four and five points above the relegation zone respectively. After a disastrous start to the season, Bremen had got back on track in recent rounds. Frankfurt, on the other hand, made a great start to the season, before flopping miserably after Christmas – prior to this game, they had scored only four goals and tallied no real number of points to speak of since Christmas, and thus last month, they fired coach Michael Skibbe. Their performance under new man Christoph Daum in last week’s 1-1 draw away to Wolfsburg still left s a lot to be desired, but scoring and holding onto the point perhaps indicated that a corner has been turned. Continue reading

Wolfsburg 1-1 Eintracht Frankfurt

The first half formations

Wolfsburg dominated a limited Frankfurt side but had to come from behind to scrape a draw after missing a host of second-half chances.

As well as being a tussle between two sides struggling to avoid the drop, this game was also intriguing as it saw Felix Magath take charge of his first home game in his second spell at Wolfsburg. Meanwhile, there was also another new face on the bench a few feet away from Magath’s: Christoph Daum, the former Fenerbahçe manager, was back in the Bundesliga after a two-year absence. The 57-year-old East German replaced Michael Skibbe last week: Skibbe oversaw a solid first half of the season (including a 3-1 win over Steve McClaren’s Wolfsburg in November), but then a terrible second half of the season which has seen Frankfurt fall from being credible Europa League challengers to 14th place in the table and a mere three points above the relegation zone. Wolfsburg, sat in 17th before this match, knew that a win would take them to within a point of their guests. Continue reading

Bayern Munich 4-1 Eintracht Frankfurt

The formations.

A quickfire second half double saw Bayern Munich leapfrog Frankfurt in the table and move to within five points of the Champions League spots.

From the off, Bayern deployed their usual pass n’ patience tactics in the face of a 4-5-1 – part and parcel of being the visiting side at the Allianz Arena. Louis van Gaal had two playmakers on the pitch in Bastian Schweinsteiger and Toni Kroos, and two direct attackers in Franck Ribéry and Thomas Müller. With so many options in the Frankfurt half, Michael Skibbe kept his banks set, rather than pressing Bayern vigorously and leaving gaps for them to exploit.

Nevertheless, Theofanis Gekas’s game is based on running, so he was left to hurry the centre-backs and Anatoliy Tymoschuk. Not only is the Greek international highly effective at doing this, it also helps him score goals. In the first half, Gekas forced several errors from Daniel van Buyten and Breno, and at one point found himself one-on-one with Hans-Jörg Butt. However, the former Portsmouth striker fluffed his lines, and Sonny Kittel did little better with the follow-up.

The 17-year-old Kittel was making just his fourth appearance for Frankfurt, and was a thorn in the side of Bayern down the left. Quick to join in or make counter-attacks (something Frankfurt did decisively – no second thoughts, no holding and waiting for Bayern to flood back), Kittel also sent in a series of testing set pieces for Marco Russ, Halil Altintop, Aleksandar Vasoski & co. to hurl themselves at.

On the subject of big guys and headers, Skibbe’s primary tactic at restarts involved long punts to the centre circle for the 1.96m-tall Alexander Meier to flick on for the deliberately semi-circular midfield three and Gekas hovering behind him in amongst Bayern’s defenders. Yet when they got the ball down in Bayern’s half, the lack of space available saw Frankfurt panic, and either squander possession, or pass back to Ola Nikolov. Continue reading

Bundesliga round three preview

Tobias Weis - an inspiration and whirlwind from RCM this season.

Hoffenheim vs Schalke

The league leaders host a side whose bid for the title is already looking splintered. Hoffenheim‘s 4-1-4-1, complete with rampaging right back Andreas Beck, blends defensive muscle, imagination, clever movement, and powerful dribblers. Decisive then narrow wins against Werder Bremen and St. Pauli respectively mark Hoffe as a team capable of clinching three points regardless of circumstance and adversary.

A Friday evening kick-off benefits Schalke as they begin their Champions League campaign against Lyon the following Tuesday. Nevertheless, recent form suggests they needn’t bother turning up to either game. The purchase of Klaas-Jan Huntelaar – he and Raul making a Real Madrid benchwarming Old Boys Club – won’t solve the creative paucity in midfield, or deficiencies in defence. Continue reading

Eyes on Eintracht Frankfurt

Frankfurt's players bask in the glory of conquering Chelsea.

Yesterday afternoon, Eintracht Frankfurt beat Chelsea 2-1 in a friendly. I was alerted to the scoreline by the reliably orotund Sky Sports News, the network expressing mild consternation at the result.

Bundesliga followers will have been less shocked by the result, however, as Michael Skibbe’s well-drilled side were one of the league’s better teams last season.

Die Adler commence the 2010/11 season amidst minimal emendation to the squad. The XI facing Chelsea contained eight 2009/10 regulars, more than matching a side containing a similar number of starters.

Two of Frankfurt’s newbies featured in the friendly, one of whom was left back Georgios Tzavellas, who the Germans beat off stiff competition to capture – unsurprising given that the Greek international looks to be an exciting prospect. Continue reading