The Bundesliga Friday night match saw Eintracht Frankfurt secure a 1-0 win over Mainz at the Deutsche Bank Park, although they were far from convincing and the visitors put up a real fight particularly in the first half. The winning goal came in the 73rd minute with Mario Götze getting the benefit of a VAR check for a tight offside to head in after Robin Zentner had saved his initial effort.
It certainly wasn’t pretty, but a win is a win for the Adler. Here are five takeaways from the Friday night action……
1- European ambitions cemented for Eintracht
As already mentioned, this was not a pretty performance from Frankfurt and they really found it hard to get going in the first half with no fluidity or creativity to their game. The win however is what counts and they have now taken seven points from a possible nine at the start of 2024 to cement their place in the top six.
The three points sees them move to within two points of Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig and within three of VfB Stuttgart. European qualification will be the target this season, and ugly wins like these will be potentially key to them achieving it.
2- Mainz remain toothless
Mainz will leave the Deutsche Bank Park frustrated that their efforts brought them nothing and it could be argued that they were actually the better side in the first 45 minutes. They pressed well and defended solidly (until the goal), but the big (massive) Achilles heel remains their inability to score.
Before the match they had the second worst scoring record in the division and Kevin Trapp in the Frankfurt goal was not called upon to make a save of note throughout the game. Jan Siewert started with Karim Onisiwo and Jonathan Burkhardt, with Ludovic Ajorque coming on in the second half. They huffed and they puffed, but there was just no end result and this is going to have to change if they are to have a hope of extricating themselves from the bottom three. If results elsewhere go against them, Mainz could find themselves bottom by the end of the weekend.
3- A plan is needed to utilise Sasa Kalajdzic
The disjointed first half display from Dino Toppmöller’s side saw them struggle to utilise new signing Sasa Kalajdzic properly. The 6ft 7 inch striker cut an ineffective figure as Frankfurt continued to play in their traditional style using pace when the Austrian was more suited to balls coming in from wide areas. This approach works when you have Randal Kolo Muani as your spearhead, but Kalajdzic needs different service.
He has yet to score since returning to the Bundesliga from Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Premier League and Eintracht are going to have to adapt to get the best out of him when he plays in place of Omar Marmoush.
4- Has Mario Götze found a new home?
A rare headed goal from Mario Götze sealed the three points, but it was in a more deep lying role in the centre of midfield that he found himself deployed. He is not the quickest anymore (was he ever?) and in the absence of both Ellyes Skhiri and Sebastian Rode, the World Cup winner has found himself playing in a double-six alongside youngster Hugo Larsson. He has the intelligence to play there as a deep-lying midfielder and the more youthful legs of Larsson or the lungs of Skhiri will be of great help.
5- Skhiri and Chaibi return, but Marmoush still a big miss
The early exit from the African Cup of Nations of both Tunisia and Algeria meant that both Ellyes Skhiri and Fares Chaibi were available and came off the bench. The big miss for the Adler however remains top scorer Omar Marmoush, whose Egypt side have progressed to the round of 16.
It looked as if pace and directness was going to be the key to unlocking a well-organised Mainz side and aside from Ansgar Knauff in spells, Frankfurt were missing this. Marmoush, who has taken over the mantle from the injured Mohamed Salah for the Pharaohs, would have been an ideal spearhead to break down the Nullfünfer. Adler fans will be hoping Egypt don’t go all the way in their continental tournament.