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Tuesday, 18 February 2014 23:29

Eintracht Frankfurt – the expert lowdown

In-depth look at FC Porto’s Europa League opposition

sebastian-rode-alexander-meier-frankfurt.jpgPortuGOAL brings you a detailed analysis of the German team standing between FC Porto and a place in the last 16 of the Europa League. Eintracht Frankfurt expert Vlado Angelkovski reports.
1. How have Eintracht Frankfurt looked this season, and what has their recent form been like?
This season has been a bit of a rollercoaster ride for the club, that’s for sure. They started of struggling in the league finishing 15th after the first half of the season and not even able to get a home win in the league, Frankfurt had to improve fast in order to avoid being stuck in the relegation battle. During the winter break the team made a couple of signings (one midfielder and defender) aimed at improving the squad’s depth.
The first games of 2014 saw Frankfurt take two very important wins and apart from the loss to Bayern Munich earlier in the month the team was showing improvement. Last week they were knocked out of the German Cup quarter finals in a very close game against Borussia Dortmund, but on Saturday night they were crushed by the same team, 4-0.
2. How did they get here? Give us a quick guide to Eintracht Frankfurt’s path to this stage of the Europa League.
Frankfurt played an amazing season last year, being promoted back into the first division they were expected to be around the relegation zone, but the team surprised a lot of people and finished in 6th place to earn themselves a place in the Europa league (playoff  round). Frankfurt eased past Qarabag of Azerbaijan winning 4-1 on aggregate. The group stage was seen as a good challenge for the team, playing alongside Bordeaux (France), Maccabi Aviv (Israel) and Apoel (Cyprus). Frankfurt finished first in the group with 5 wins from 6 only dropping points to Maccabi in a 4-2 loss.
3. Ones to watch - Who are Frankfurt’s star players?
There is no doubt in my mind that the so called “match winners” of Frankfurt are Alexander Meier and Sebastian Rode. Both have played exceptionally well this season. Meier was the team’s top scorer last season with 16 goals. It is pointed out he mainly plays as a central attacking midfielder and not a striker. This season he was out injured for almost two months but has scored 5 goals from 11 games in the Bundesliga. Meier has to be watched in set pieces as he is a major threat in the air thanks to his height (1.96m).
Rode meanwhile is a vital part of the team operating both as a central and defensive midfielder. He is not much of a goal-scorer but he always knows what to do with the ball and reads the game very well. These qualities have earned Rode a contract at Bayern Munich next season, something that in my opinion is not going to benefit the young player at all. I hope for his sake that I’m wrong and that all his skills do not go to waste in Munich.
4. Strong points/weak points – what must FC Porto beware of and what can they exploit?
Frankfurt have a lot of players who are strong in the air and can cause problems for Porto’s defence. They are also very strong down the flanks with fullbacks Sebastian Jung and Bastian Oczipka full of running down the flanks and capable of whipping dangerous crosses into the box. Frankfurt is very vulnerable in defence with a strange tendency to concede goals late on in matches (usually in the last 15 minutes). This is most likely caused by the extra matches the team have come across in Europe but it is something that Porto will certainly try to exploit.
5. Formation and playing style – what system do they usually play? Would you describe Frankfurt generically as an attacking or a defensive team?
This season has seen Frankfurt play very attacking football both in Germany and in Europe. The team have mainly played a 4-2-3-1 formation this season but they can set up very differently depending on who they are playing. Against the big teams they always seem nervous and lose possession quickly, while when they take on opposition of similar calibre they look much more organised and play a good passing game.
6. What are the German press saying about the tie? Who are considered favourites?
The German press definitely consider Eintracht as underdogs with some surprised that despite their horrible form in the Bundesliga, surprising many by qualifying for the knockout stages, even more so as group winners. Most people will say Porto are favourites and I’ll have to agree with that. However, I expect Frankfurt to thrive as underdogs and put on a great show for their passionate and loyal fans. 
7. Mood in the camp – judging by player/coach quotes regarding this game, do you think Frankfurt come into the tie in a confident frame of mind?
Everyone at the club is very excited to be playing FC Porto, a team with a great history in Portugal and Europe. Frankfurt’s coach Armin Veh simply said “It’s a great draw” while the team’s sporting director Bruno Hübner also said “it’s an attractive draw for the players and the fans - but also one of the hardest we could have got! Even though we’ll be underdogs in both games I believe we can win.” Given how inconsistent Porto’s form has been this season, Frankfurt’s go into the game with real hope of causing an upset.
8. What do you think the result of the match will be?
Anything can happen in football and Frankfurt will go into the game with nothing to lose. If they were facing the Porto of last season, their chances would have been slim, but this season’s Porto are not the same. Getting at least one away goal for Frankfurt will be crucial in the first leg, then they can go into the home leg with a positive mind-set and attitude and I have no doubt they would have a chance of winning the tie. It promises to be a great spectacle, not just on the pitch!
Our thanks to Vlado Angelkovski. For more from Vlado, follow him on twitter @Vlad17Angel
Comments (3)
perfect time to give bench players some starts
3 Thursday, 20 February 2014 02:17
Ghilas in particular needs some starts. he barely plays in the league even though he has a propensity for goals. i've always said him and jackson should be on the pitch at the same time. he's a great poacher and adds a dimension to a usually stagnant porto attack this year.

Reyes, Kelvin, Ricardo and Fabiano should all be considered to start. maybe not all of them but pick 2 or 3. they need experience against tough opponents when it matters, you never know when they might be needed in the league. a little experience could make a big difference.

It's wishful thinking though, because I expect this scrub of a coach to just use the same starters as a league game. just as he did with the league cup game against maritimo and then we lost the next league game. the guy is so clueless it's amazing.
Thanks Vlado
2 Wednesday, 19 February 2014 11:35
Normally, this would be a game Porto would sweep aside (no disrespect to Eintracht), but given the awful form of the team and Paulo Fonseca's tactical ineptitude, this will be a very competitive matchup.

Porto have been poor at the Dragao while playing for European competitions and this tie will be no different in my opinion. I expect Porto to go through, but it will be much more laboured than it need be.

great article
1 Wednesday, 19 February 2014 04:59
I always love these piece's about the opposition when portuguese teams play in Europe .

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