Are Eintracht Frankfurt ready for a serious tilt at the European places?

With the first half of the Bundesliga season behind us, we’ve entered the Rückrunde and the time when teams can hit a purple patch of form that can set them up for a really good push into the end of the season. With seven points from a possible nine so far, Eintracht Frankfurt are moving up to within touching distance of the top five. Could the Adler be ready for a concerted push for a possible Champions League/ Europa League place?

There are certainly plenty of reasons for optimism amongst the Frankfurt faithful and if they can just hit that old thing called ‘consistency’ on a more regular basis, then there is every reason to believe they can challenge the likes of VfB Stuttgart, Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig for one of the tickets to the top four and Champions League football next season. 

Dino Toppmöller’s side had to be rebuilt somewhat after the summer departures of Randal Kolo Muani, Jesper Lindstrom, Daichi Kamada, Djibril Sow and Evan Ndicka. The recruitment has been a success overall and the Launische Diva find themselves in sixth place right now having started the New Year with two wins (RB Leipzig and Mainz) and a draw (Darmstadt). It was only a 95th minute equaliser from Christoph Klarer at the Böllenfalltor against Darmstadt that prevented them from matching Dortmund’s perfect 100% start.

They find themselves just two points behind RB Leipzig in fifth and five adrift of Borussia Dortmund. They have had their disappointments this season, but they can look back on their 5-1 demolition of Bayern Munich on matchday 14 as an example of what they are capable of when all the pieces of their jigsaw click into place. 

The defence

The defence was one of the main issues last season with coach Oliver Glasner getting to the point where he publicly criticised some of the back line saying he “didn’t know how to train quality”. The arrival of both Robin Koch and Willian Pacho has really solidified things at the back with Koch emerging as a potential candidate for the German national team and the Ecuadorian gaining plenty of plaudits and even interest from ‘big’ clubs overseas. 

Indeed Eintracht have the third tightest defence in the entire Bundesliga behind Leverkusen and Bayern with just 22 goals conceded in 19 games so far. Kevin Trapp remains a top shot stopper when balls do get through, while Brazilian Tuta keeps maturing into a fine Bundesliga defender.

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The midfield

Again, there were losses to compensate for, but the club have not suffered too greatly from the loss of quality they saw depart. 18-year-old Swedish youngster Hugo Larsson has taken no time at all to settle into the higher level and has shown a maturity beyond his years. He is combative, passes well and has the energy to get around the centre of the park. The engine of Ellyes Skhiri is returning from African Cup of Nations duty at just the right time and he provides plenty of running and Köln are showing this season just how important he was to them with their struggles. 

Sebastian Rode’s impact and influence may be on the wane, but Junior Dina Ebimbe continues to progress and his display against Bayern in particular showed the levels he can get to. Mario Götze looks to be adapting to a deeper number six role, where he can use his game intelligence, while Ansgar Knauff injects a lot of pace into the Adlers forward game.

The attack

With 30 goals scored Frankfurt are the eighth highest scorers and while not hitting the kind of figures of Kolo Muani, Omar Marmoush has been a success thus far with his seven goals and three assists and Egypt’s early departure from the African Cup of Nations will be welcome news for Dino Toppmöller. If he can keep scoring and if someone else can start contributing on a regular basis, Frankfurt’s chances of the sought-after top six finish will become more realistic.

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The transfer window

The Hinrunde gave the management the opportunity to assess the squad and they have so far brought in three players in the transfer window to add quality and options to the squad. Donny van de Beek arrived on an initial loan from Manchester United looking to return to the outstanding form he showed at Ajax that made him one of Europe’s most sought-after prospects two years ago. 

Sasa Kalajdzic has also arrived on loan from Wolves after injury blighted his time in the Premier League with the Midlands side. At Stuttgart he was a formidable goal threat and if Frankfurt can deploy him successfully in tandem with Marmoush or use him as an impact player, then Eintracht could and should increase their goal threat. 

18-year-old French winger Jean-Matteo Bahoya has also signed for €8 million giving Dino Toppmöller an added weapon to deploy. 

Time to push on

Sitting in sixth place with plenty of reasons to be optimistic, it is now up to the team to produce the consistency and bring their qualities to the fore. They have a run of fixtures that on paper are all eminently winnable and it is wholly conceivable that the Adler can maintain their positive start. As we know however, the club can also go the other way and go on a run of inconsistency and underperform in comparison to the players they have. Which way will it go for the club from the Main?

Next fixtures: Köln (a), Bochum (h), Freiburg (a), Wolfsburg (h), Heidenheim (a), Hoffenheim (h)

About Mathew Burt 1054 Articles
Former writer at Goal.com and JustFootball, I've been doing my thing for Bundesliga Fanatic since 2015. A long-suffering Werder Bremen fan and disciple of the Germanic holy trinity...Bier. Wurst und Fußball

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