After disappointing Champions League results in midweek, both Eintracht Frankfurt and Bayer Leverkusen will be looking to the Bundesliga to return themselves to winning ways. The Adler in particular will want to get back on the winning road after their defeat to Tottenham followed on the heels of last weekend’s shock loss to Bochum.
The defeat to the league’s bottom side and one without a win all season to that point was doubly shocking considering Frankfurt has beaten league leaders Union Berlin just a week earlier and held Spurs to a 0-0 draw in Europe. Going from the sublime to the ridiculous is a trait not alien to Eintracht but a third loss on the bounce is not something they really want to experience.
The matches are coming thick and fast and although player fatigue has to play a role, the need to keep winning Bundesliga points is paramount. The tinkering that coach Oliver Glasner did last week backfired (as he admitted) so the key players are just going to have to get used to the added physical and mental burden.
Leverkusen began life under Xabi Alonso in perfect style with a 4-0 home win over Schalke last week, but the Spaniard was brought down to earth with a bump with a 3-0 loss to Porto in the Champions League. He will have seen some of the weaknesses that caused Gerardo Seoane to lose his job and will be looking for an improvement at Frankfurt.
The Werkself are currently 15th in the table despite their win last weekend and dropping points could see them drop even lower when the mission for Alonso is to get them moving up the table. Like Glasner at Eintracht, the temptation to rotate is there, but the urgent need for points takes precedence at the moment.
Makoto Hasebe has suffered a knee injury against Tottenham and is now likely to be out for some weeks. Hrvoje Smolčić or the more experienced Timothy Chandler could deputise of the back four could be deployed.
Eric Junior Dina Ebimbe could be an option in the central midfield to freshen things up, while Rafael Borré needs some more game time to keep him happy
Possible line-up: Trapp, Tuta, Chandler, Ndicka, Jakic, Rode, Sow, Lenz, Kamada, Götze, Kolo Muani
Both Jeremie Frimpong and Robert Andrich were suspended in midweek so will be fresher at the weekend. There seems little reason for Xabi Alonso to change the winning line-up that beat Schalke last week meaning places on the bench for Kerem Demirbay, Adam Hlozek and Paulinho.
Possible line-up: Hradecky, Tapsoba, Tah, Hincapie, Frimpong, Aranguiz, Andrich, Bakker, Diaby, Hudson-Odoi, Schick
What they’re saying:
Oliver Glasner: “Leverkusen have recently played with a 3-4-3. Before the season I named Leverkusen along with RB Leipzig as Bayern’s biggest competition, because they had maintained their squad and strengthened. They are the highest tempo team in the league.
“We’ve had to improvise for weeks in defence. It is our task to find solutions. It is important that the players accept the situation and deliver the best performance that is possible from their position.
“I don’t see the problem that we don’t score enough goals, we have the third highest and the goals are spread amongst different players. We have to look at conceding fewer goals.”
Xabi Alonso: “We did many things well against Porto but we also made mistakes. At the highest level, those are punished immediately. We have to be more compact and find the spaces better.
“Frankfurt is a strong opponent, they won last season’s Europa League. We need a lot of energy and must be ready to fight. It’s an important game. We are working hard to find our identity and continue to build team spirit. We spent the first week getting to know each other better and better.“
12.08.22 Tottenham (a) 3-2 L (Champions League)
08.10.22 VfL Bochum (a) 3-0 L (Bundesliga)
04.10.22 Tottenham (h) 0-0 D (Champions League)
01.10.22 Union Berlin (h) 2-0 W (Bundesliga)
17.09.22 VfB Stuttgart (a) 1-3 W (Bundesliga)
11.08.22 Porto (h) 0-3 L (Champions League)
08.10.22 Schalke (h) 4-0 (Bundesliga)
04.10.22 Porto (a) 0-2 L (Champions League)
30.09.22 Bayern Munich (a) 4-0 L (Bundesliga)
17.09.22 Werder Bremen (h) 1-1 D (Bundesliga)
The corresponding fixture at the Deutsche Bank Park last season took place on matchday 15 and was a goal-fest that ended 5-2 in Frankfurt’s favour. Patrik Schick scored twice for the visitors in the first twenty minutes, but goals from Tuta and Jesper Lindstrom levelled things before the break. In the second half Evan Ndicka, Kristijan Jakic and Djibril Sow got on the scoresheet to seal the win for the Adler.
Players to watch:
In the battle of the strikers, it will be Randal Kolo Muani in the Frankfurt corner vs Patrik Schick in the Bayer corner. The Frenchman’s absence last week at Bochum due to suspension was sorely felt and he will be keen to make a scoring return to the Bundesliga.
Patrik Schick scored twice in last season’s fixture at the Deutsche Bank Park, but this season Leverkusen are still waiting for him to click into gear and reproduce the goalscoring form that he had last year. Many predicted he would replace Robert Lewandowski as the owner of the Torschutzenkanone, but he is going to have to start hitting the back of the nest more often to fulfil the predictions.