Why Eintracht Frankfurt is Playing 'Good Football'
To explain how we got to this season we have to go back a couple of seasons. In the season 15/16 Frankfurt almost got relegated to the 2. League. As a hailmary the board decided to appoint inexperienced Niko Kovac as a head coach. He instantly got to work and with a few very close matches was able to save Frankfurt to 16th place. Which meant we had to play in the relegation match against Nuernberg. With a very close 1:0 win in the second leg (after 1:1 in the first) Frankfurt was saved. But what was to be with a team that only scraped by? And isn't Bobic coming in as new team manager after failing significantly at Stuttgart?
Well Bobic turned everything upside-down. He sold of any player that wasn't up to par. Even some of the best players on the team at the time were sold of (e.g. Aigner). And in came a mixed group of young and loaned players (e.g. Rebic).
Meanwhile Kovac went to work to. Brought ruthless defensive discipline to the team and got them to player a much more stable football that Eintracht hadn't seen in more than a decade. In Kovac's two full seasons Eintracht greatly overperformed, but only for half a season. The second half of both seasons was always filled with disappointment as Eintracht couldn't keep up the high level. Yet, both years Frankfurt was able to reach the Cup final and even able to win it for the first time in 30! years last season. During these two years young, unknown and talented players found their way to Eintracht. Players like Haller, Jovic, Rebic, Wolf, Mascarell, Da Costa, N'Dicka, Vallejo, etc. came for pocket change. And while not all players are still at Eintracht, the team was reformed on a more than solid basis.
The New Coach
After the Cup win Kovac left. Most fans were in dismay. This coach brought us out first title in 30 years made or team better than in a long time and now he's gone? And how is this new coach anyways? Adi Huetter?
Well this new coach came in with an attacking mindset. This stands in contrast to Kovac who's philosophy was to control games and win with low margins. Huetter wanted to make the most out of the attacking quality of the team. A factor that had been grossly underused under Kovac. In the beginning it took a while for Huetter's football style to get embedded in the team but after the 4:1 victory over Hannover the bane was broken and the team was set free. Over the next 10+ games Frankfurt went to tear apart the Bundesliga and Europa league, with the front three of Jovic, Haller, Rebic becoming the best rated front 3 in Europe for a time.
The new style focusses on heavy pressing and direct attacking. The team is set up in a 3-4-1-2 where two full backs cover the entire wings. The two 6s look to control the midfield while the 10s main purpose is to drive attacks forward. At the end the two 9s do their magic and score and score and score. Especially the addition of the two strikers has helped Frankfurt's play significantly as both strikers share responsibility. The direct play either over the wing backs or with through balls perfectly utilizes the formation and leads to many promising attacks within a game. In combination with the relentless gegenpressing this tactic is extremely running intensive and fast, making for entertaining football. On the other hand this means that the defensive can be quite vulnerable. With often only 3 players covering the back and to be honest. a sub-par defensive midfield, better teams can find their way in front of goal more often than they should. All in all this means games are often high scoring and packed with chances for both sides.
The front three of Rebic, Jovic, and Haller have been nicknamed 'The Buffalo Herd' because of their extreme physicality and relentlessness.
Rebic was well known since his world class performance in the cup final against Bayern. He is extremely quick and has an unreal work rate and determination. He often gets into scoring positions out of sheer willpower. And to add to that he has become quite a decent technician on the field, scoring some wonderful goals this season.
Jovic is technically on loan, but there is a buy-out option under 10m€ that will be used by this summer. And boy is he worth it. At only 21 he has an outstanding goal scoring ability rivaling the best number 9s in the world right now. He has the ability to find goals in the most athletic ways possible as well as prolifically scoring (most)chances he gets with a 84! minute to goal ratio this season. Trust me when I say: This guy is the real deal. He will very likely become one of the biggest stars in the world in the years to come.
Haller is a lot less flashy than the other two but arguably the most important. His sheer physicality makes him able to win most duels he enters, especially when heading. In this way he perfectly complements Jovic as he creates space and serves the ball to Jovic who can then score with ease. On top of that he's consistently scoring himself, making him the top scorer (goals + assists) in the Bundesliga.
And now... some selected goals: Rebic vs. Bremen Jovic vs. Mainz Da Costa vs. Leverkusen Haller vs. Augsburg Jovic vs. Shalke
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