Darmstadt 98 with defense failures before Eintracht game

Darmstadt 98 with defense failures before Eintracht game

Bei us,” says Torsten Lieberknecht, “There is no whining.” Would be even nicer, given a fabulous series of 18 second division and two cup games in which the “lilies” were not defeated. In view of first place in the table, a highlight game and important things such as possible promotion to the Bundesliga and the final completion of the new stadium in mind.

However, from the point of view of the trainer Lieberknecht, a certain amount of quarreling and moaning would even be understandable with regard to his direct area of ​​competence. Other professionals would presumably use the accumulation of injured or sick professionals to dampen expectations. Or even verbally anticipate a possible defeat. Lieberknecht misses any chance to indulge in the lament.

He did that after he took up his post in Darmstadt when a corona wave swept through the squad and ruined the start of the season. And he thinks so before the upcoming game, which has the biggest stage for the “lilies” since the first division relegation in 2017. Nothing less is the “electrifying” (Lieberknecht) cup round of 16 at the big neighbor Eintracht Frankfurt this Tuesday evening (8:45 p.m. in FAZ live ticker for the DFB Cupon ARD and on Sky).

Pfeiffer is out for a long time

The team is accompanied by at least 5100 supporters, but not by a few important players, at least not as active players on the pitch. The week-long absence of defender Patric Pfeiffer, who tore a muscle bundle in his thigh in Sandhausen 44 minutes after his comeback after breaking a toe, is the latest case. Pfeiffer, Matthias Bader (abdominal injury) and Klaus Gjasula (adductor injury) are currently out of action from the core formation of the defensive chain from the start of the season.

It is clear that the Darmstadt back team in particular will face a challenge against the Frankfurt attackers of Champions League format. Now the “lilies”, as they remarkably demonstrated in the first half of the season, always knew how to compensate for the losses. Without loss of good results, but certainly with loss of quality. Because substitute players like Thomas Isherwood or Frank Ronstadt, who will probably be in the starting XI in Frankfurt, benefit primarily from the fact that they enter a stable and harmonious association with a clear division of tasks.

The absence of Bader and Pfeiffer means the absence of two defenders with good playmaking talent. Now one can of course assume that the Darmstadt team is not planning to combine the Eintracht lines with a fluid short passing game from their own penalty area. Lieberknecht also said on Monday: “We want to have fun with the game.” Of course, that can be in the role of the opponent who is willing to run and ready to play a tormentor. With an uncompromising defense, which distinguishes the Darmstadt team in the second division and, if the game should end in a cup fight, could also put a stop to the much-praised Eintracht offensive.

“We won’t make things easy for Frankfurt,” said midfielder Tobias Kempe. “It will depend a lot on passion and defensive work and that we meet them with our boys via counterattacks or set pieces. We’re strong there.” Kempe and captain Fabian Holland are the relics in the “Lilien” squad who played a part in the last SVD victory in the Frankfurt Arena. On St. Nicholas Eve 2015, Kempe gave the free-kick that Aytac Sulu headed in for a 1-0 win for the newly promoted team, thus briefly shifting the balance of power in top-flight Hessian football.

In the second leg of that season, which many people no longer remember, a defeat at Böllenfalltor almost meant Eintracht was relegated. After the break, the SBU was somehow able to win 2:1 against the “lilies”, who were successfully striving to remain in the class – and ultimately saved themselves in the relegation, which is considered the cornerstone of the high flight that continues to this day.

Darmstadt with a back four?

At Eintracht, you will have taken object lessons on how Darmstadt act against teams from higher classes. In the second round of the cup, the Gladbachers deservedly lost 1:2 – albeit at the Böllenfalltor. “It will also be exciting to see how Eintracht adjusts to us and what they have identified as possible dangers,” said Lieberknecht. “We know that Eintracht – when they lost – was inferior to teams that played with a back four. That’s an interesting clue that might help us.”

Whether this is a hint or a smokescreen with a view to the Darmstadt Derby formation remains to be seen. Most recently, the “lilies” had run up with a chain of three. In any case, Lieberknecht does not describe the shortage of personnel in defense as a nuisance, but as a “challenge”. And the Darmstadt veteran Kempe says: “We will enjoy it and leave our hearts on the pitch.”

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