Our next opponents: Europe – curse and blessing for Eintracht

Crucial weeks in the Bundesliga. Not just for Bayer 04 but also for Eintracht Frankfurt, our next opponents on Sunday (5 May, 18.00 CET) at the BayArena and direct rivals in the race to qualify for Europe in a game that could prove to be crucial. For the team from Hessen these are exciting days in the middle of the Europa League semi-finals. That has positive and negative aspects for the game against the Werkself.


Following the 1-1 draw in Thursday's semi-final first leg against Chelsea, Frankfurt have every chance of going through to the Europa League final. Eintracht have enjoyed some magical nights in the competition so far beating top European sides Olympic Marseille, Lazio, Inter Milan and, most recently, Benfica. In the midst of this European euphoria, Frankfurt have recently failed to achieve positive results in the league. After an outstanding start to the second half of the season with six wins on the bounce, Eintracht have only picked up two points from the last three games in the league. Nevertheless, Frankfurt are still in pole position to qualify for the Champions League next season for the first time in the club's history. The lead over rivals Borussia Mönchengladbach and Bayer Leverkusen is currently three points and the Frankfurt club also have a better goal difference than the two teams from the Rhine. But Sunday’s game could still be very significant in determining the outcome of this season's league campaign – including for Bayer 04.


The, at times, thrilling attacking football shown by Frankfurt this season is mainly associated with three players who form a physical and technically impressive offensive trio: Luka Jovic, Ante Rebic and Sebastien Haller. While Rebic missed the first leg against Chelsea due to suspension and is therefore well rested for the game against Bayer 04, Frankfurt have worries about central striker Haller. The Frenchman has been sidelined since the start of April with a stomach muscle injury that may require an operation, and that would mean an early end to his season. To avoid that, Haller has even visited a specialist in Austria. That makes it clear: It is not easy for Frankfurt to replace the striker. Equally important for the intensive game under coach Adi Hütter are the two wingers Filip Kostic (pictured above on the left next to Luka Jovic) and Danny da Costa, who started his career at Bayer 04. Both players are responsible for the whole of their flanks and their dynamism and running ability are key elements in the success of Eintracht this season.


There is a huge question over Haller playing against the Werkself and his power up front has clearly been missing recently. Midfielder Mijat Gacinovic is also sidelined with a muscle problem. In addition to these issues for the squad there is also a lack of vitality due to the large number competitive matches and that has affected Eintracht's recent performances. After Europa League battles that cost nerves and power, Frankfurt have rarely played with freedom in the past few weeks unlike much of the Bundesliga season before that. Players like Rebic, Kostic and da Costa have played in nearly every game and have recently suffered due to a lack of energy. At least the one-match ban for Rebic gives him the chance to rest ahead of the game against Bayer 04.


First, lifting the DFB Cup, now the Europa League semi-finals at least and, under certain circumstances, the first ever qualification for the Champions League next season. There could hardly be more excitement in Frankfurt. The euphoria of the fans has spilled over onto the pitch and the supporters have been a big plus for the team. With this European run and the associated confidence levels, Frankfurt are currently able to win every game – and achieve a lot in the future: Players like Jovic, Rebic and Haller are sought-after and that could bring a lot of money into the club. Eintracht Frankfurt have the potential to be able to compete for European competitions over the long term.


Where Eintracht will end up this season depends to a large extent on the result against the Werkself. If Frankfurt secure an away win then they have every chance of qualifying for the Champions League otherwise it could be a tough battle for the team from Hessen. Mainz, who are already safe, visit the Commerzbank Arena next week but Frankfurt are away to Bayern Munich on the last day of the season with FCB still possibly involved in the title race. Frankfurt would like to have fourth place secured before the last matchday. Therefore, they have to get a positive result on Sunday.

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