Preview: Eintracht Frankfurt – FC Bayern Munich

Justin Separator October 13, 2016

Over the past few visits the home team gave them quite a hard time. But that is not the reason why our interview partner Marvin, Eintracht supporter, is looking forward to the game. Eintracht Frankfurt is in very good shape this season so far.

Hello Marvin, please introduce yourself to our audience and tell us what makes Eintracht Frankfurt so special for you?

Hi, my name is Marvin you can find me on twitter at @marv2punkt0. I am an Eintracht supporter way too long considering all the strangeness around the club.
In 1995 I started to visit matches regularly in the Waldstadion where I experienced the greatness of Okocha, Bindewald and Caio. This may be one of the main reasons for the long-term fascination. Eintracht Frankfurt still affects me emotionally despite or maybe because of the ups and downs we went through together.

Last season you just escaped relegation. Today your team already managed to gain 10 points by beating Schalke and Leverkusen. Are there some major changes or is it too early to judge at this point?

For me it is too early but we may be on the right track. The team has much more potential than everybody expected especially if they reach their top-level performance in combination with maximum effort, which Nico Kovac is demanding for.
Always aggressive and always close in one on one matchups that is how you pressure your opponent. As a result they get nervous and that creates opportunities for our team. I may add that we played Leverkusen and Schalke when they had not reached their top level thanks to the schedule.

What are the short-term and long-term targets of Eintracht Frankfurt?

Right now we should be concentrating to avoid relegation without any drama like last season. After the big change from Bruchhagen to Bobic it is necessary to develop a new long-term strategy for the club. But there are some hints like all the loan players we acquired before the season that there may be some changes regarding the approach. It seems that loaning high-level players with some potential might be better than signing players who more or less match the current level of the team. In addition to that they want to fill up the gaps of the loans with your own talents after the loan ends. But if I am honest this might be a bit too optimistic and is more wishful thinking than reality.

In the long run we must not lose the connection. All the tradition around the club is more or less worthless, if you cannot deliver results. We have to pay attention that clubs like Hoffenheim or Leipzig overtake us completely so that the focus should lie on economic factors. Regarding the sport I want the team to return to the European stage to strengthen the brand Eintracht Frankfurt in general. But the first step is and will be staying in the Bundesliga this season.

There are rumours that Mainz 05 is some kind of role model for the executives. They are able to present attractive football to their fans even by generating money on the transfer market as well. Not everyone sees the tag “Ausbildungsverein” (club that develops players to sell them) as positive because of the self-understanding around the club. But from my point of view this is the goal the executives want to archive in the near future.

Name some strengths of Nico Kovac – what do you think about him?

He and his attitude delight me. I was quite a risk to sign a coach with no experience what so ever to fight against relegation. Right at the beginning you could recognize a difference between him and former coach Armin Veh. He emphasizes discipline and fighting-spirit, which all the players have internalized at this point. My first concern that he may only work as a short-term motivator may be unfounded. Moreover his humbleness makes him very likeable for fans and journalists as well. That is also a big difference compared to Armin Veh.

Niko Kovac und Eintracht Frankfurt haben nach gelungenem Saisonstart gut lachen.(Foto: Alex Grimm / Bongarts / Getty Images)
Niko Kovac and Eintracht Frankfurt are happy with their stat into the season.
(Photo: Alex Grimm / Bongarts / Getty Images)

Up to the 6th match day Eintracht Frankfurt had the highest defensive line just behind Bayern Munich this season. Is high defending up the field an option for the game on Saturday?

I am not sure if Nico Kovac wants to take that risk. The first few games showed that pressuring highly might be an option to irritate the opponent. For me it is the preferable option due to the fact that defending deep vs. Bayern will not get you any result whatsoever. Our full-backs need to have a good day especially Oczipka who was out of form previously.

Do you see any weak points in Bayern’s squad, Frankfurt may be able to exploit?

The first euphoria after the arrival of Ancelotti is gone and the draw against Cologne may be annoying but I really do not see any weaknesses we could profit from. Our only chance will be playing aggressive and with a lot of passion. Maybe Rafinha will play as a right fullback, who is the only player I am not convinced by to the fullest.

The last six matches in Frankfurt Bayern only managed to achieve three wins by drawing two times and losing one time as well. Two of the wins were by only one goal. Maybe that’s some kind of hope for Saturday. What is your prediction for the game?

In the past few years I was quite pessimistic but right now I go with the positive flow. I think a 1-1 is very optimistic but not impossible. We have to make the most of our chances. For me it is sad that a part of the fan area will be closed due to some events at the game in Magdeburg. The support of 2,000 fans will be heavily missed.

If you could choose one Bayern player for your team – who would it be and why?

There is no doubt – I would go for David Alaba even though he has not reached his form this season. He is one of the best in the world. He is so versatile that he could close all our week spots ideally.

Eintracht Frankfurt is on a roll. The former FCB player Nico Kovac managed to stabilize the team with his unique form of coaching.

Solid defence, dangerous individualists

Nico Kovac as a coach stands for fighting, passion and duels like no other coach in the Bundesliga. All of this may sound a bit weird in modern tactical football but those attributes are necessary when fighting against relegation. Due to the aggressiveness the defence is stable even without any special organisation. Kovac demands to defend actively with high pressure. Up until the 5th match day his team had the second best score of interceptions within the league. After the match in Freiburg they lost a few placed.

Abb. 1: Das Diagramm zeigt die durchschnittliche Position bei Ballgewinnen sowie beim Passspiel. (Grafik: Lukas)
Image 1: The Diagram shows the average position when intercepting and passing
(Analysis: Lukas)

Nevertheless Frankfurt is in the upper half of this statistic and the personal impression that the team is way more active this season can be confirmed as well. Just behind Bayern (6.7) and Leipzig (8.7) the team is one with the fewest shots allowed. Another indicator are the six goals conceded and therefor rank number 5 in the Bundesliga as well as 22.2 interceptions which is number 4 within the league. Are pretty good start to avoid relegation.

Considering the offence you have to name one man first – Alexander Meier. He is the main man up front with already three goals scored this season. Him (13) and Patrick Fabían (16, two goals) are the ones with most shots for the team. Both players are unselfish as well. Meier (5 assists to shots) and Fabían (5 assists to shots, two assists) are in the top five within their team. The top spot belongs to Huszti who assisted eight shots overall. Per game the team manages to shoot on the opponent’s goal 12.7 times, which is improvable although they are ranked, 7th in the Bundesliga.

Abb. 2: Frankfurt hat sich in vielen Bereichen von einem Abstiegskandidaten zum Durchschnitt entwickelt. (Grafik: Lukas)
Image 2: Eintracht Frankfurt has improved a lot. A relegation candidate regressed to the mean.
(Analysis: Lukas)

Missing structure and short on collective penetrating power

The biggest blind spot of a team, coached by Nico Kovac, is their tactical discipline.
Due to the high intensity in combination with the aggressive play-style, spaces are frequently open. Without the ball Frankfurt struggles to act patiently and calm. They do not let the opponent shoot that often but 64% of the shots allowed were inside the box.

In addition to that they are lacking creativity offensively. Because of the missing tactical structure the focus on the wings is very high. That causes early shots from the distance (5 per game) as well as many crosses (15.5 per game) and turnovers before entering the final third of the pitch. The simple 4-2-3-1 structure does not enable offensive link-ups but allows the team to stay in possession against most Bundesliga competitors. The lack of risk is confirmed by the statistic of forward passes (image 2). Although they are playing more forward passes than the majority of the Bundesliga teams that matches only 40% of their own passes. The third lowest rank overall.

The passmap from the game vs. Darmstadt shows that both defensive midfielders do not link up with the players up front. As a result Alex Meier becomes ineffective and the focus lies on the wings.

Abb. 2: Frankfurt spielt zu wenig Pässe in die gefährlichen Zonen. (Grafik: Lukas)
Image 3: There are only a few successful passes in dangerous territory.
(Analysis: Lukas)

In image number three you can see that there is a big lack of deep passes and structure as well. They fully count on individual quality by the names of Meier, Fabían and Huszti.
We should not forget that Frankfurt is battling relegation and that their courageous style of play is able to endanger opponents – even Bayern Munich.

Things Bayern should pay attention to

The German record champion needs to play his game on Saturday. It will be important to avoid Frankfurt’s pressure as well. During the international break we mainly spoke about the midfielder support for the wingers. Right now the team crosses 19.2 times per game (6.2 times successful) caused by low presence in the half spaces.

Tobias Hahn made a great visualization. It is evident that there is a lack of support and triangles. If they want to beat Frankfurt on Saturday it will be mandatory to move quickly and make sure the ball is circulating fluently. Frankfurt is keen on trying to get Bayern down on their own level to get into one on one duels. Without structure and triangles this may work much easier on the wings.


Last five games against Eintracht Frankfurt

Overall record

  • 133 Matchups – Bayern wins: 65, draws: 29, Frankfurt wins 39
  • goals scored: Bayern 244, Frankfurt 186
  • Bayern is unbeaten by Frankfurt for 10 straight games.

Fun Facts

  • Frankfurt has not scored a goal vs. Bayern for 8 games. (Bundesliga record).
  • In the Oberliga-Süd (14 wins, 8 draws, 12 losses) as well as in the Uefa Cup (3 wins, 1 loss) Frankfurt has a higher win loss ratio against Bayern.
  • The last time Frankfurt gained points in both games vs. Bayern was in 1995/1996.
  • Bayern only scored once against Frankfurt last season. Every other team scored more.
  • After the 6th matchday last season Müller and Lewandowski had already scored 14 times together. Right now the score is 5 – all goals by Lewandowski.
  • Alexander Meier scored all opening goals for Eintracht Frankfurt in home games this season. He never scored against Bayern at home.
  • Nico Kovac turns 45 on Saturday.
  • Our miasanrot player of the month Joshua Kimmich is the leading goal scorer in September. 6 games 5 goals.

Five bold predictions

  1. Bayern will score at least one goal.
  2. Lewandowski ends his goal drought.
  3. There will be at least five yellow cards in the game.
  4. Bayern will not concede.
  5. The first Bayern goal will result from a set-piece.

»Eier, wir brauchen Eier!«

— Oliver Kahn

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