On March 14 Eintracht Frankfurt beat Inter Milan 1-0 to qualify for the Quarter-finals of the Europa League, this result left Frankfurt the only German team left in any of the European competitions. This small resurgence of the team began at the end of last season where they beat Bayern Munich 3-1 to win the DFB Pokal however, this was under Niko Kovac, who left for Bayern Munich at the end of the season. The team in the past have not been successful as they have not won the Bundesliga since 1959 and the DFB-Pokal last season was their first major honour since winning the Bundesliga 2 in 1998.
The team this year did not start well at all under new manager Adi Hutter, as their season started with a 5-0 loss to Bayern Munich in the DFB Super-Cup, as well as losing 4 out of their 5 first games in the Bundesliga. They also lost in the first round of the DFB Pokal to SSV Ulm 1846 who are 4th Division team. However after this slump they managed to turn it around with a 7 game unbeaten run. This run was down to a tactical change from a 4-2-3-1 to a 5-3-2, which promoted defensive discipline and exciting attacking football. This run was highlighted with a 7-1 win against Fortuna Dusseldorf which showcased the talent of Luka Jovic, who in that game scored 5 goals in that one game.
The switch to the back 5 helped the team gain more stability in their defence. This allowed the team to have 2 pacey wing-backs and allows them to defend well. The 2 wing-backs in Filip Kostic, more of a winger turned wing-back, and Danny Da Costa are able to attack when not defending as they act as the ‘wingers’. This can be seen with Kostic providing 8 assists in the Bundesliga this season. Their improved defensive stability is seen in the Europa league where they conceded on average 0.8 goals per game. The team do not really focus on gaining possession and instead prefer to press and then counter attack, this can be shown with their average 46% in the Europa League. When the team counter attack they use the attacking 3 of Luka Jovic, Sebastian Haller and Ante Rebic, also known as the Magic Triangle. Sebastian Haller is the target man, Jovic is the finisher and Rebic is the play maker. When attacking, this allows Jovic and Haller to occupy 2 centre backs in a back 4, which then allows Rebic to break between through the defensive line and then create a chance. This has proved effective with Jovic scoring 7 in the Europa League and 15 in the Bundesliga, while Haller has scored 14 and 5 and Rebic 8 and 3 as he plays a more creative role.
The key part of the Frankfurt attack, Jovic, is certain to leave the team in the summer as he is on loan from Benfica. However, even though Frankfurt are looking for to sign him permanently, there are rumours that Barcelona are interested in the signing of him. Frankfurt thou, unless they win the Europa League, will be unable to afford him due. The reason for this is due to Frankfurt being on a budget. In recent years this has been seen in their transfer activity. Most transfers did not cost more than £7 million pounds and their squad consisting of mainly loan players as well as free transfers. This further shows their success on being able to achieve such a feat. However they cannot be called a selling club due to them not making significant profit on developed players. This has effected them and will likely again with Luka Jovic.
The reason Frankfurt are the only team left in Europe is because the Bundesliga is becoming weaker. Bayer Leverkusen lost in the Round of 32, RB Leipzig finished 3rd in their group all in the Europa League, Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and Schalke all lost in the Round of 16 in the Champions League, while Hoffenheim finished 4th in their Champions League group, and it can be argued that they were all outplayed by their opponents. Normally them getting this far could have been because of an easy group or draw but this is in fact not the case. Their group consisted of Marseille (2018 finalists), Lazio and Apollon Limassol. The team managed to only concede 5 goals throughout the group stage while scoring 15. In the round of 32 and 16 they played difficult teams as well in Shaktar Donestk of Ukraine and Inter Milan. They managed to beat Shaktar 6-2 on aggregate, while their more impressive win came against Inter Milan, where they were able to win 1-0 on aggregate with that only goal coming in the San Siro. In the next round Frankfurt face a challenge in Benfica. Who are another free scoring and defensively sound team. So keep an eye out to see whether Eintracht Frankfurt can be equally as effective in the latter stages of the Europa League as they have done up to this point
Links used: https://www.transfermarkt.co.uk/eintracht-frankfurt/startseite/verein/24/saison_id/2018
Stats from One Football App