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

Borussia Mönchengladbach-Stuttgart preview

The second round of the new Bundesliga season continues this evening with a clash between two of the opening day’s biggest expectation-exceeders. Whereas disciplined Borussia Mönchengladbach – who, lest we forget, only just edged out Bochum three months back to preserve their top-flight status – won 1-0 away to Bayern Munich after riding the storm, Stuttgart put in a commanding performance to beat Schalke 3-0. Those results last weekend ensured that both Lucien Favre and Bruno Labbadia – tonight’s home and away side coaches respectively – boast 100 percent records in 2011/12 so far; the former’s side knocking Jahn Regensburg out of the cup and the latter’s overcoming SV Wehen in the same competition two weeks back.

No one would be surprised if Stuttgart managed to keep up their early season form until Christmas, but it’s how they fare after the winter break that counts. Both the club and coach Bruno Labbadia himself have a reputation for producing spectacular half-season showings, but they always follow or precede 17 games of relegation form. Continue reading

Borussia Mönchengladbach 1-0 Bochum

The first half formations.

Borussia Mönchengladbach scored a controversial winner in injury time to keep one foot in the top division of German football. Referee Günter Perl’s fourth official had indicated that there were to be two minutes of time added on to the requisite 90, but the Bavarian man in the middle went beyond that, allowing the hosts to take a crucial advantage from the first game of a two-legged tie.

After 34 rounds spent in the Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga respectively, Gladbach and Bochum will have had mixed feelings before entering this first leg of their two-legged relegation/promotion play-off. The hosts, for instance, managed to haul themselves up to 16th place after looking doomed for most of the season. However, although they’ll no doubt have come into this game happy to have given themselves a 180-minute chance against a team from a lower division to preserve their top-flight status, Gladbach started the campaign with high expectations, only for positive results to begin to materialise far too late when Lucien Favre came in as coach. Continue reading

Mainz 1-0 Borussia Mönchengladbach

The first half formations.

Mainz took a huge step towards Europa League qualification after overcoming ten-man Borussia Mönchengladbach with a late goal from André Schürrle.

Round 30 began on Friday night with a game between two sides experiencing seasons beyond their wildest dreams. Hosts Mainz came into this match against Mönchengladbach in 5th spot – looking well set to secure a spot in next season’s Europa League, despite briefly flirting with qualification for the Champions League up until a few weeks ago. However, their last win in the league was nearly a month and a half ago. Their visitors, on the other hand, had ambitions of at least finishing in mid-table at the start of the season, but with five games to go, they came into this game bottom of the table. Nevertheless, they thrashed Köln 5-1 last week, giving their survival hopes a shot in the arm (Mainz lost 2-0 to Hannover, perhaps finally ending any lingering Champions League hopes). Thomas Tuchel had several key players missing for this game, including Bo Svensson, Nikolce Noveski, Jan Šimák, Zsolt Lőw, Ádám Szalai, and Heinz Müller. Visiting coach Lucien Favre was blessed in comparison – the only notable absentees being Paul Stalteri and Igor de Camargo. Intriguingly, both coaches seemed to ditch the status quo in naming their line-up’s, picking more offensive formations than was expected. Continue reading