A win at the Allianz Arena should be considered a shock result, but many in the German Football sphere could see this one coming. Two defeats all season and on a devastating run of 11 games unbeaten, had ‘Die Adler’ found their winning formula earlier in the season we would be looking at genuine title challengers this season in Eintracht Frankfurt.
Saturday’s win was the icing on the cake for this immense run of form. An outstanding first half performance at the weekend with exceptional goals from Daichi Kamada and the in-form Amin Younes saw the side on the Main secure an impressive three points. Adi Hütter’s men look fresh, hungry and determined. Sitting seven points from the dizzy heights off the top and staring down the barrel of what is increasingly looking like an eventual top four finish, Eintracht’s season didn’t start with dazzling performances.
Just two victories in their opening 12 games, many were scratching their heads over Eintracht’s performances during the opening months. Lacklustre performances against FC Köln and newly-promoted Arminia Bielefeld preceded a demolishing at the Allianz Arena. A lack of goals and willingness to see out games left Frankfurt lingering in mid-table. No European football to contend with, the fans would be expecting better.
Fast forward to late December, Die Adler began to soar. Filip Kostić returned to his very best, perhaps aware of a fellow countryman returning in January, becoming a main asset to the current rise with 10 assists this season. He formed an impressive triangular relationship with striker André Silva and attacking-midfielder Kamada. The interchanging trio, reminiscent of the former successful three of Sébastien Haller, Luka Jović and Ante Rebić. Silva has scored 18 league goals to date – sitting second to Robert Lewandowski – being the brightest spark in this lightning surge up the table.
January was the time for new players to shine through and cement their quick attacking tactics. Jović made his sensational loan return to Deutsche Bank Park, making the impact we all expected. Two goals in his first 38 minutes, matching his goal return in his 32 game stint in Madrid. The Serbian looked like he was home once again. At the back we were introduced to Tuta, the Brazilian youngster bursting into the ranks and becoming a fitting replacement to the recently retired David Abraham. With all players firing and a strong bank of replacements on the bench, Hütter has built himself a top Bundesliga team.
Title challenging is not uncommon to Hütter though. He has previous experience in competing for titles and overcoming successful dominant teams. In his native Austria, he was 2014/15 Bundesliga winners with Red Bull Salzburg before a 2017/18 historic Swiss Super League title with Young Boys, the club’s first in over 30 years and stopping powerful and eight in a row champions FC Basel. The Austrian has already proved Frankfurt’s capabilities on the European stage but now with no extra distractions, could he take this team and become Bundesliga title challengers?
RB Leipzig closed the gap at the top to two points following their 3-0 win in the capital against Hertha BSC while Wolfsburg have made their home in Autostadt a complete fortress this season. The trio have capitalised on an uninspiring season from Borussia Dortmund this year and will be hoping to retain top four status come May. The two games against these sides left to play could be the biggest factors in who will run Bayern the closest. Eintracht Frankfurt play Julian Naglesmann’s RB Leipzig in March which will prove the first test for this rejuvenated side that managed a draw in the reverse fixture.
There is still every chance Bayern will return to form but if there was any season to put your hat in the mix and take the opportunity, it is this one. Hansi Flick’s side are struggling with their busy schedule over the past year, resulting in obvious fatigued performances. Injuries and Covid-19 struggles are beginning to hamper their league form. Frankfurt may not be a prominent worry for Flick at the moment but they are surely looking over their shoulder and seeing a rampant side coming their way. All eyes will be on the Red Bull Arena on March 14. The title race is on and Eintracht Frankfurt are flying.
By Roy Campbell.