Eintracht does not convince before the Champions League game in Naples
Ehonesty is trumps. Sebastian Rode didn’t hesitate for a second when asked about his goal. “That should be a cross,” said the Eintracht captain after his artful shot in the 55th minute. It was the moment when the ball made its way in a high arc towards the goal, VfB defender Borna Sosa gave a little support with an unwanted header extension – and finally landed 1-0 in the Stuttgart goal. Goal number four of the season for the Frankfurt leader, who is everything possible, but only that: a goalscorer.
Rode is someone who leads the way fearlessly and in an exemplary manner. One who is also battered, like in the Europa League final in Seville against Glasgow Rangers, and goes about his game work as a matter of course in pain. In short: Rode is one of the football professionals who have been good for Eintracht for years. The 32-year-old man from Bergstrasse also speaks plainly and doesn’t sugarcoat anything. “We didn’t have the punch in the first half today,” said the midfield driver after the 1-1 draw against Stuttgart.
He also complained that “we lacked a certain lightness”. The obvious, the expected – things that Eintracht automatically brought to the pitch in the strong first half of the season. There isn’t much to see at the moment, and Oliver Glasner also complained about this. “We have to admit that we have a lot to work for. You can feel that. It doesn’t work much from the feeling and from the gut.
The game isn’t easy for us at the moment,” said the Eintracht coach. A lot of it was patchwork, what the 50,000 visitors in the Frankfurt Arena, which was again sold out, saw against a recalcitrant relegation candidate who believed more than ever in his first-class future. “You need confidence,” Glasner said. “But we don’t have that right now.” How to get it back? “We need results. We have to try to be relaxed and creative.”
Successful like never before
Eintracht went into the southern classics with VfB as sixth in the table – and is still sixth after the draw. Rode has scored the fourth goal of the season and is more successful than ever before in his career. A good six months ago, when Eintracht won 3-1 away in Stuttgart, Rode was one of the goalscorers. The fact that he was once again successful against the Swabians with his unsuccessful cross ball seemed like the right bang for his team at the right time – but it wasn’t enough to win. “Four goals from me so far, that’s extraordinary,” said the Frankfurt captain in the catacombs of the arena.
Philipp Reschke had rushed there a good three hours earlier. The board member responsible for the fans complex, among other things, was initially pleased to report the developments from Italy, after which Eintracht supporters had meanwhile been allowed to travel to Naples to watch the second leg of the second leg of the Champions League live on Wednesday to be there before ticket sales were banned again in the evening – this time expressly for residents of the city of Frankfurt (see Sport, page 24).
Glasner had taken note of the developments surrounding the meanwhile withdrawn fan exclusion for initially German citizens with a pinch of sarcasm. “We hope that we can enter. Some of us have German passports.” With Rode, Kevin Trapp, Philipp Max and Mario Götze, four German football professionals were in the starting XI against VfB. A quartet that should also be challenged on Vesuvius from the start against a team that has skilfully completed their dress rehearsal.
The league game against Atalanta Bergamo, the club with which Eintracht has been a fan for many years, was won 2-0. The troops from Campania feel ready for the second comparison with Eintracht.
But positive tones can also be heard from the people of Frankfurt. Coach Glasner said: “We’ve proven many times that we’re capable of extraordinary performances.” Sport director Krösche added: “We’re going to Naples with great hope. The boys have often shown that they can turn games around.” The Italian travel group will also include the injured Ansgar Knauff, as his coach predicted on Saturday. Another German for the sporting challenge of making the seemingly impossible possible in Naples. Others are responsible for the administrative pitfalls.