Frankfurt reaches EL playoffs – Russia probably badly injured
Rarely glamorous, but still successful: Eintracht Frankfurt has also continued its triumphal march through Europe with the “second guard” and armed itself for the weeks of truth. In the second leg of the 3rd qualifying round for the Europa League, the Bundesliga club defeated FC Vaduz 1-0 (1-0) – and is now waiting for the first indicators of the young season.
Only after the Bundesliga opening on Sunday against the TSG Hoffenheim as well as the further point plays with RB Leipzig and against Fortuna Duesseldorf the Hessen know more exactly, how it is around their efficiency. In between, the play-off matches against the French first division team Racing Strasbourg (22/29 August) will probably demand more than the unequal duels with Vaduz and Flora Tallinn in the qualifying rounds.
“It was a hard piece of work today because Vaduz isn’t a walk-in customer either,” said midfielder Sebastian Rode, who recovered from a serious knee injury at Nitro: “We had to show a good performance and win. Even if it wasn’t quite as glamorous, we can build on it.”
Jonathan de Guzman (31.) shot the Frankfurters to their fifth victory in the fifth compulsory game in front of 48,000 spectators in the sold-out Arena am Stadtwald, including NHL star Leon Draisaitl. The semi-finalist of the previous season had already won the first leg a week ago in Liechtenstein (5-0) and laid the foundation stone for the play-offs, the final hurdle before the group stage.
The only downer was the injury of defender Marco Russ, who had to be replaced before the break (37th). “We assume an Achilles tendon tear,” said sports director Bruno Hübner at Nitro.
As announced, Hütter had turned his starting eleven upside down, with top performers such as David Abraham, Makoto Hasebe and Ante Rebic not even on the squad. With the exception of goalkeeper Kevin Trapp or midfielder Sebastian Rode, who recovered from a serious knee injury, Thursday’s opening line-up is unlikely to be a suitable place for permanent appearances from the outset.
This is also due to the mostly driving appearance against the Swiss second league team, in which Timothy Chandler (3rd) had the opportunity for an early lead. Otherwise, however, the Hessians acted too lethargic, especially in the game forward, in duels sometimes bungling. Trapp even had to save his team from falling behind against Pius Dorn (21.).
After a cracking crossbar by Mijat Gacinovic, de Guzman, who had only been noticed with a few bad passes before, took the lead. After that, the hosts immediately appeared a bit freer – Almamy Toure even dared a bicycle kick (40th). But with the restart of the whistle the euphoria subsided again.
Hütter did well to spare his regulars. By the international break in mid-September, the Frankfurt team will have completed ten competitive matches, with 31 in the first half alone. And the really important games are just around the corner.