15:30 (CEST), Sunday 20th August, Schwarzwald-Stadion (Freiburg, Germany) BT Sport 1
Freiburg will look for a repeat of last season which saw the club climb to 7th and have the chance to qualify for the Europa League, unfortunately that didn’t come to fruition. Eintracht Frankfurt broke out of the gates in the first half of the season where they were flirting with Champions League, but the second half of the season hit Niko Kovač’s side like a tonne of bricks as they stalled to finish 11th as the season’s end.
Both sides have featured throughout the transfer window with Frankfurt bringing in 9 players to help avoid a repeat of last years collapse. Whilst Freiburg have brought in only 4 players and without European football this season, it has been smart business to keep majority of the squad intact.
Last Time Out
Germania Halberstadt 1-2 Freiburg (DFB Pokal)
It was a family of sorts in Freiburg’s first round match-up with fifth tier side Germania Halberstadt. Striker Nils Petersen would face off against his father Andreas who manages the opponent. It would be Nils who get the upper hand and the 28-year-old found the back of the net on 34 Minutes.
Freiburg made it two in fortuitous circumstances as Nichola Höfler’s shot was deflected in off Halberstadt defender Adli Lachheb. The hosts made things interesting in the second half Kay Michel scored with minutes remaining in the contest but it wouldn’t be enough as Freiburg sailed through to the next round.
TuS Erndtebrück 0-3 Eintracht Frankfurt (DFB Pokal)
Eintracht Frankfurt made the 136 km journey to Siegen to take on their fifth tier opponents TuS Erndtebrück. Niko Kovač’s side didn’t have the most ideal start when captain David Abraham was given a straight red for an extremely dangerous tackle from behind. But with only 41% possession, Frankfurt still created and took the lead on 35 minutes through midfielder Mijat Gaćinović.
The travelling fans would have to wait until the 72nd minute for the next goal and it would be the right wing back Timmy Chandler popping up to increase Frankfurt’s advantage. Four minutes later new signing Sebastian Haller tapped in from close range to score his first goal on German soil.
Manager Christian Streich threw up a curve ball in their cup fixture against Germania Halberstadt as Freiburg went into a 3-4-3 formation. Certainly a formation for the future but one we probably won’t see on Sunday against Eintracht Frankfurt. The 4-4-2 is expected with Julian Schuster the only player to be dropped with Lukas Kübler coming in.
Eintracht Frankfurt Lineup
Niko Kovač has almost a full squad to choose from for the trip to Freiburg. Key players in Omar Mascarell and Marco Fabian will both miss through injury but Frankfurt have the players to cover those losses. Daichi Kamada has impressed throughout pre-season and has earned his place in the starting XI. Former Freiburg player Gelson Fernandes will make his Bundesliga return against his former club and will start in a holding midfield role. A 4-4-2 is expected but don’t be surprised if Kovač adapts to a 3-4-3.
Key Battle: Mike Frantz vs Makoto Hasebe
Two midfield generals provide the key battle for this contest. Makoto Hasebe of Eintracht Frankfurt is the clubs most important player when he went down with injury, there was no doubting how much they missed the Japanese international. Hasebe can play in a variety of roles and many times found himself in Frankfurt’s back three as defensive fraternity ran thin due to injuries. Last season Hasebe completed 83% of passes and won on average 52% of his duels.
Like Hasebe, Mike Frantz can play in a variety of roles and through it his career he has played every position on the pitch besides in goals. In this fixture, he will be in central midfield alongside Nicolas Höfler. Frantz is a strong one-on-one player and is very strong without possession. Last season Frantz won 54% of duels which was best amongst Freiburg player who played at least 25 games. These two brutes will face-off to give their side the best chance of taking victory on Sunday.
Eintracht Frankfurt were poor away from home last season – 17 away fixtures saw them take only 14 points out of a possible 51. Frankfurt also had the second worst goal scoring record on their travels with 12 goals, only Darmstadt with 10 were poorer in front of goal on the road. Niko Kovač brought in Sebastian Haller from Utrecht to bring goals to the club, can Haller and Hrgota help Frankfurt improve their away form this season?
One of Freiburg’s off-season dealings saw Austrian U21 International Philipp Lienhart join from Real Madrid Castilla on a one-year loan deal. Lienhardt has already impressed in pre-season and looks the business in Freiburg’s defensive 4, making a good partnership with Marc-Oliver Kempf. The Austrian has featured in both Europa League Qualifiers and the DFB Pokal win last weekend, but now that he will face much stronger competition than he did in Spain’s third tier, will Lienhardt shine or fade in the Black Forest?
Prediction: Freiburg 2-1 Eintracht Frankfurt
When the two sides met last season it was Freiburg who took the last fixture 2-1 as the club from the Black Forest came from behind thanks to a brace from Florian Niederlechner. Frankfurt are generally a side that starts the season strongly, they beat Schalke on the opening week of the season but away from home is a different kettle of fish for this Frankfurt side. I expect a good contest but Freiburg to overrun Frankfurt.
Will it be Freiburg or Eintracht Frankfurt who take the points on Sunday? Let us know in the comments section below.
Want to share your opinion? Why not Write For Us?