The glory night in Seville was only 11 months ago, but after a first Champions League campaign since their first appearance back in 1960, Eintracht Frankfurt find themselves in a real battle to even qualify for Europe next season let alone return to the European top table. The triumph over Glasgow Rangers last May seems an age away as Oliver Glasner’s side have seen themselves slip out of the top four and with just seven games remaining this season the Adler have it all to do to achieve European qualification for next season.
Slip sliding away
When Frankfurt beat Schalke 3-0 in the first game back following the Winterpause they were second in the league, three points behind leaders Bayern Munich and tipped to be a potential title race participant. Fast forward to matchday 28 and the Main club have dropped down to seventh in the table and looking like they are going to be left behind by a resurgent Bayer Leverkusen and in danger of being overhauled by Mainz and VfL Wolfsburg.
Since the win over Schalke, Eintracht have only notched up two league wins (Hertha Berlin and Werder) and lost four (Köln, RB Leipzig, Union Berlin and most recently Bayer Leverkusen). They were easily dispatched by Napoli in the Champions League, although there has been a cup run to the DFB Pokal semi-finals to cheer them up.
Results have dampened the mood at the club, but constant rumours and confirmations of player departures for next season have certainly not helped forge an atmosphere of optimism going into the final weeks of the Bundesliga season.
Daichi Kamada, Djibril Sow, Evan Ndicka, Jesper Lindström and Randal Kolo Muani are all heavily linked with moves away from the club, there is unrest at board level and trainer Oliver Glasner is also not certain to be continuing beyond the current season. All-in-all a far from optimal set of circumstances to be battling to break back into the top four/ top six.
The time is now
Frankfurt have seven league games to go and a potential 21 points to play for. They however have more than a few tricky encounters ahead of them and it is by no means certain that they have what it takes to achieve the required points tally. They face Borussia Mönchengladbach this weekend and follow that with a trip to face Borussia Dortmund.
They have away matches at Hoffenheim, Stuttgart and Schalke- all teams who are going to be fighting tooth and nail to avoid relegation so these are by no means easy trips. They face Mainz (who are themselves fighting for Europe) and face top four aspirants Freiburg on the final game of the season.
The DFB Pokal does at least offer them a backdoor into Europe with the German Cup winners guaranteed a spot in Europe and the possibility that seventh place in the Bundesliga being given a Conference League berth should the Pokal winners be amongst the league’s top four.
They face VfB Stuttgart in the semi-finals before a potential final match-up with either RB Leipzig or Freiburg. In an ideal world the Adler surge back into the top four, but it looks like it will be an achievement to get back into the top six at this rate. Frankfurt need an upturn in form and they need to start getting back amongst the goals with an over-reliance on Randal Kolo Muani a concern.
The Eagles were flying high last May and rubbed shoulders with Europe’s elite this season. The danger is that this season sees their wings clipped and the talented pool of players they possess fly away in the summer for more lucrative nests.