An the evening when the rockets were flying, something historic happened. “The first Champions League victory in the club’s history – that’s unbelievable, of course,” said Markus Krösche. The sports director, torn after Eintracht’s 1-0 win against Olympique, was “happy that we scored three points. But the circumstances had less to do with football“.
After the coup in Marseilles Eintracht is back in the middle of the fight for the desired entry into the round of 16 as third in the table with the upcoming opponent Tottenham Hotspur. For those from the football department who ensured a sportingly significant result, it was a “great victory at all levels”.
“Now everything is open again”
Sebastian Rode said in the catacombs of the Stade Vélodrome what had previously hardly been thought possible for the ailing Frankfurters, but ultimately did not come as a surprise. Eintracht can do Europe – and apparently they can do the Champions League too. At least and above all away, the favorite playground of a team that feels particularly comfortable abroad.
Since the unfortunate semifinals in the Europe League at Chelsea in London, when they were only eliminated on penalties in May 2019, Eintracht has not lost a European Cup game away from home. Substitute captain Rode justified the fact that the first Champions League hurdle was taken by the French, who are very strong at home, with a “fantastic team performance. We almost had to win today, but now everything is open again,” said Rode, who, like his playmates, had hoped for a reaction after the 3-0 defeat against Sporting Lisbon. “Now a lot can be decided in the two games against Tottenham.”
Hasebe’s “incredible performance”
One of the keys to success was returning to the back three. Trainer Oliver Glasner had decided to take this tactical measure due to the injury-related necessity. Makoto Hasebe not only as the head of defence, but also as a sovereign on the pitch: “That was an unbelievable performance from him,” enthused Sport Director Krösche about the Japanese, who will be 39 in four months.
With what calm and game intelligence the phenomenon Hasebe met all the sporting and other adversities of this heated football evening deserves the greatest respect. “Extra praise for Makoto,” said his coach later on the podium, where the Austrian talked about a victory, “which is good for all of us. Even those who haven’t played.”
Jesper Lindström played from the start. He was the only man to score in Olympique’s goal (43rd minute). Other teammates such as Randal Kolo Muani could have done the same, but failed. And as with it Daichi Kamada then someone managed, it was offside in the game.
“It’s not me as the first goalscorer in Frankfurt’s Champions League history that’s important, but the team,” said Lindström later. “It wasn’t easy to perform here.” Rode reported that even on the journey to the Stade Vélodrome, “we sat in the bus for ages and it was brutally loud in the stadium. Overall, it was a scenery that has nothing to do with a Champions League game.
Team goes to the fans
Despite the lapses and gaffes, for which the French chaotic team, who were overpowered in terms of personnel, and the Frankfurt supporters, who were also igniting and firing rockets, were also partly to blame, Glasner’s team did not want to do without the usual ritual. In the cauldron of Marseille, too, she headed towards the corner after the end of the game to thank those of the 3,300 supporters who had peacefully supported the team.
The Frankfurt football professionals kept a large safety distance. The management of the club had never considered doing without this ritual altogether. In a dark hour of football, those responsible were busy worrying about other things. “It is important that everyone comes out of here safe and sound,” said board member Philipp Reschke.
Kamada also knew about the special circumstances on the French Mediterranean coast. “It was a very difficult game. Our coach told us to follow our style and bring it onto the pitch. We didn’t make it last time. But today we played well together.”
It was also the speed of individual players that put Eintracht Olympique under pressure. “We knew that Marseille defended man against man,” said coach Glasner in his analysis. “That’s why we wanted to pose problems for them with our speed, especially with Randal Kolo Muani and Jesper Lindström.” Glasner was impressed by the athletic performance of his players. “They have shown that they can win against many teams in many stadiums at the limit of their performance.”
As nice and reassuring as the 1-0 win against Marseille may have been on what was in many ways a challenging evening: “It was a very aggressive atmosphere,” said Glasner. “A few chaotic people abused football as their stage.” From a sporting point of view, the assessments of the two coaches in charge differed.
While the Eintracht coach spoke of a “deserved victory” after his team’s courageous performance, for Igor Tudor “a draw would have been fair. We were able to push more in the second half and deserved the equaliser,” said the Olympique coach, who was beaten at home for the first time this season in a competitive game. The historically successful football game of Eintracht deserved completely different conditions on this chaotic evening.