Eintracht means ‘‘harmony’’ but that’s a commodity in precious little supply right now at Bundesliga clubs Frankfurt and Braunschweig.
Eintracht Frankfurt and Eintracht Braunschweig have both played two, lost two in the new league season and neither can afford another defeat when they go head to head in Lower Saxony on Sunday.
It was all so much sweeter 12 months ago: last season Eintracht Frankfurt won their opening four matches of the season for the first time in their history. Playing in the second division, Eintracht Braunschweig kicked off with five victories on the bounce on the way to promotion.
But it’s all gone horribly wrong this term. Frankfurt made a couple of astute signings over the summer, poaching Jan Rosenthal and Johannes Flum from Freiburg (Eagles fans greeted incoming loan deals for the struggling Hoffenheim duo Joselu and Stephan Schrock with less enthusiasm).
Armin Veh’s men travelled to the German capital on the first day of the season full of confidence, but came home on the wrong end of a 6-1 thrashing against Hertha Berlin.
Veh demanded that his men dig in against Bayern Munich last week, and while the 1-0 home defeat may have looked honourable, in truth the European and Bundesliga champions rarely got out of third gear.
Worryingly, Veh has left Permin Schwleger at home for Thursday’s Europa League qualifier in Azerbaijan against Qarabag Agdam.
‘‘For a long time I have had the impression that he lacks enough fitness to play for 90 minutes. He will be more valuable to the club against Braunschweig. Whether he plays, wait and see,’’ Veh added cryptically.
Schwegler is one of four different Frankfurt captains in the last eight matches, hardly a sign of dressing room stability.
UEFA Cup winners in 1980, Eintracht Frankfurt are back in Europe after seven years. Fans feel they belong in European competition. The draw against Qarabag Agdam may have had them searching atlases in vain but The Eagles need European competition. Chief Financial Officer Axel Hellmann says Europa League group stage competition will generate what he calls ‘‘crucial’’ extra revenues of at least €5 million.
Indeed, the club could be at a financial turning point, with its biggest ever sponsorship deal, worth €6 million annually, kicking in this season.
But history does not augur well. Frankfurt’s nickname isn’t ‘‘Eintracht’’ but
‘‘Zwietracht’’ – conflict. The team also has a history of ending the season poorly.
Last season, Veh’s team only just qualified for Europe after winning only two of their last 14 matches. In 2010-11, The Eagles won only once in the second half of the season and slipped to relegation.
In both seasons, the problem has been scoring. Frankfurt’s strikers scored a miserable seven goals last season, and Veh relied for too heavily on giant Alex Meier to strike from attacking midfield. They’ll hope new €3.2 million signing Vaclav Kadlec from Sparta Prague will fix the problem.
On the subject of goals, there are in short supply too at Eintracht Braunschweig.
Again, this Eintracht have a fine tradition, having been founder members of the Bundesliga in 1963 and champions in 1967.
Older fans still grumble about a last minute penalty given to Juventus in the 1968 European Cup, which denied the club a place in the semi-finals.
Coach Torsten Lieberknecht, who turned 40 earlier this month, has done a wonderful job since taking over the team in 2008, celebrating two promotions and taking the club back to the top flight after a 28-year absence.
Lieberknecht played with and under Jurgen Klopp at Mainz and shares the Borussia Dormund coach’s footballing philosophy.
Braunschweig were a touch unlucky to lose their opener against Werder Bremen, who won with a superb late strike from Zlatko Junuzovic. While there was no shame in a 2-1 reverse at Borussia Dortmund, that made it six defeats in a row in all competitions and it’s clear that Braunschweig are badly lacking top-flight quality. Braunschweig, roared on by 7,000 visiting fans in Dortmund, only had two players on show with Bundesliga experience.
This week Lieberknecht looked to address the problem, taking promising but injury-hit youngster Karim Bellarabi on loan from Bayer Leverkusen. Not many 23 year olds can claim to have scored against Bayern Munich and Barcelona, but Bellarabi is one of them. To escape the dreaded bottom three Lieberknecht needs Bellarabi to shine and Domi Kumbela, last year’s top scorer, to recover fully from injury and find his goalscoring touch.
Eintracht Frankfurt need to recover from a 6,000 kilometer-round trip to Azerbaijan for their trip to the Eintracht Stadium in Lower Saxony this weekend. There’ll be plenty of harmony in the winners’ dressing room at the end. But in all likelihood, the losers will be bottom of the table come Sunday night and needs to call on plenty of “Eintracht’’ for the rest of the season.
Bundesliga Commentator, Deputy Head, Eurosport2
Eurosport2 has live Bundesliga action on Friday starting with second division action Aue vs Energie Cottbus. In the top flight it’s Dortmund v Bremen at 20:30. Then on Saturday don’t miss Bayern v Nurenberg (15:30) and Hertha Berlin against Hamburg (18:30). On Sunday Braunschweig play Frankfurt and Augsburg face Stuttgart. Coverage in North and East Europe