Dhe program is crisp. 13 games are on the diary for Eintracht Frankfurt before the World Cup break in six weeks, nine in October alone. How does a Bundesliga soccer team do that? Trainer Oliver Glasner’s first three words of his answer surprise: “With a smile.” And then he adds: “Because then everything is only half as exhausting.”
The Austrian reminds that this busy schedule is exactly what he, the pros and the whole club wanted. “We would have had to miss just one penalty in Seville and we would have had six games fewer. But we didn’t want that either.” Glasner sounds convincingly optimistic when he explains why Eintracht will come through the endurance test well.
“Because the players are highly professional, because they are well looked after, because they get days off to clear their heads as soon as possible and because they are competitors.” His players would rather play in front of 50,000 fans in the stadium than in front of them 24 spectators train on the practice area. “My players like to compare themselves. League leaders Union are coming on Saturday (3.30 p.m. in the FAZ live ticker for the Bundesliga and on Sky), and Tottenham on Tuesday, who recently smashed Leicester 6-2. My team wants to show and prove themselves against such opponents.”
Not only the last results with Eintracht, but also the experiences with the national teams would have strengthened the self-confidence of many in the squad. Rafael Borré has scored one goal and set up a goal from a colleague in his two appearances for Colombia. Daichi Kamada also scored again for Japan, Jesper Lindström won with Denmark against world champions France, Djibril Sow with Switzerland against the Czech Republic.
Hrvoje Smolcic qualified with Croatia for the final round of the U21 European Championships and Ansgar Knauff, Faride Alidou and Marcel Wenig all got playing times in the German junior teams.
But those who stayed at home would have used the time well, especially Luca Pellegrini, the new Italian signing for the left flank. Coming from Juventus Turin, the 23-year-old made a pleasant surprise on his debut, and the first good impression faded more and more with every further game. Even non-professionals among the spectators noticed his great physical deficits. “Luca used the break very diligently. He also trained twice a day on the non-training days at the weekend,” praises Glasner. Did he catch up with that?
Sebastian Rode’s value
“I don’t know, but if he were already as fit as the other players who have been building up their rhythm and form for months, then the others must have done something wrong.” However, Glasner believes that Pellegrini is now the basis has to get into a rhythm through bets.
Sebastian Rode also used the game break to regenerate and rebuild his strained body. “I’m happy to say that Sebastien is reasonably stable,” says Glasner, who considers the captain to be one of the most important parts of the team. Before the break, Rode could only be used sparingly, but when he was on the pitch, he underlined his value for the Frankfurt game community with every minute.
Although Rode is extremely fit for his standards, he will not play all 13 matches in the coming weeks. Glasner says, “He and Makoto Hasebe are the only ones I’m thinking about bringing them or not beyond the next game. Before I overload them and then nothing works anymore, I give them a break.”
When the Frankfurt coach talks about Saturday’s opponent, he gets enthusiastic. “Union are rightly at the top of the table, they’re just doing great. They have the second least possession of the ball in the league, the second worst passing rate, but they scored the second most goals.” Which Glasner doesn’t want to be understood as a curiosity, but as praise. “Union have a game plan and are executing it brilliantly. That’s going to be a tough nut to crack.”