Bundesliga Daily – The Enigma of Eintracht Frankfurt

The dictionary definition of an enigma is: “a person of puzzling or contradictory character.” If you apply that definition to any of the clubs in the Bundesliga, then Eintracht Frankfurt will be the club which is closest to matching that definition.

A look at the club’s last two results gives the argument more validity. In the final league game before the winter break, Eintracht became the first team since the opening day of the season to defeat the runaway league leaders Borussia Dortmund. Then in the DFB Pokal 3rd round clash against Bundesliga 2 side Alemannia Aachen, Eintracht slumped to defeat on penalty kicks to crash out of the competition.

Frankfurt’s history is full of ups and downs. They took part in possibly the most famous football match of all time, the 1960 European Cup Final, but ended up on the end of a 7-3 thumping to Real Madrid. They were founder members of the Bundesliga in 1963, but never finished higher than third place. They struggled to avoid relegation on several occasions, needing play-off victories on twice to secure their top flight status in the 1980’s. In 1996/97 their luck ran out. After selling all-time great Tony Yeboah to Leeds United they were relegated to Bundesliga 2. The next few years saw Frankfurt yo-yo between the divisions, but they have managed to maintain their top flight status since 2004/05, but they have not finished higher than ninth.

Eintracht’s Coach, Michael Skibbe set Frankfurt a target of 50 points this season, a figure that Frankfurt have not reached since their return to the top division. The chances of that figure being reached were slim following the opening two fixtures of the season which saw defeats against Hannover 96 and Hamburger SV. With four defeats in the opening five games, Frankfurt were in the relegation zone. But since then just three defeats in the next 12 games has seen Eintracht record their best first half of the season for 17 years. Now tucked into seventh place and just three points away from Europe, they look well placed to meet their manager’s target and attempt to clinch a place in the UEFA Europa League.

One of the main reasons for their success this year has been the goal scoring form of Greek international striker Theofanis Gekas. His winning goal against Dortmund was his 14th of the season, by far his best season for goal scoring in the Bundesliga. The 30-year-old, who played just one minute in a loan spell at Portsmouth in 2009, joined Frankfurt in the summer from Bayer Leverkusen. The league’s top scorer will be looking to continue his form when the season resumes next weekend, when Eintracht face Hannover 96 at the Waldstadion. Will the enigmatic Eintracht remain for the second half of the season, or can the club finally find some consistency?

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