After a season in which Eintracht Frankfurt looked to be heading in a positive direction under head coach Oliver Glasner, the last six months at the Waldstadion have proven that success does not come easy. Despite seeing many new faces come through the door over the summer, Die Adler have had to contend with losing their top goalscorer Randal Kolo Muani and their chief creator Jesper Lindstrøm.
As well as this, new head coach Dino Toppmöller has had little time to embed his new players into a side that are still attempting to understand how Julian Nagelsmann’s former assistant is looking to play. Nevertheless, for a club that were crowned champions of Europe just 24 months ago, sitting level on points with Heidenheim – who have never played top-flight football prior to this season – is a worrying sign.
A solitary victory for Frankfurt in their opening six games has certainly not been the start many were hoping for, and it looks much worse when realising that they have scored just four goals thus far. Last season, only Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig scored more than the Eagles, whose disappointing end-of-season form left them having to accept Europa Conference League football.
It would be a position that those associated with the club would be more than happy with this season, however. As per FBref, only Bayern, Dortmund and Bayer Leverkusen have kept more possession so far this campaign than Toppmöller’s side, who boast on average 56.7% of the ball.
However, it is when in possession that Frankfurt fail to look threatening. No other side has taken more touches of the ball in their own penalty area and defensive third than Die Adler. A stat that when compared to Leverkusen, who see less than 1% more of the ball per 90 than Frankfurt, signifies Toppmöller’s issues.
Xabi Alonso’s table toppers take the fewest touches of the ball in the Bundesliga in their own penalty area, while only Bochum take fewer in their own defensive third. Die Werkself, however, get the ball to the midfield as quickly as possible to put pressure on the opposition, as no other side take more touches combined in the final two-thirds.
Whereas, Frankfurt fail to progress the ball quickly up the pitch and, therefore, they rank mid-table for touches in the final third which is reflected in their expected goals, and actual goals scored. As well as this, joint bottom of the table Mainz and Köln have scored the same amount of goals as Frankfurt – a further worrying sign for Die Adler.
Without the creativity and genius of Lindstrøm, as well as the clinical nature of Kolo Muani, it is no surprise that Frankfurt are struggling to find goals and points in this campaign. Failing to replace their output with players of similar quality has led to a significant downturn in form, and potentially a missed opportunity to capitalise in their last few years of relative success.
However, while it may appear concerning for Frankfurt, there is reason to be optimistic. With five goals conceded, it is clear to see that Toppmöller has instilled a defensive rigidity into his side that will stand them in good stead if they can improve their productivity.
A season of transition may be frustrating for Frankfurt now, but in the long run, it could lead to unforeseen prosperity.
GGFN | Will Shopland