Kristijan Jakic and Eintracht Frankfurt before the start

DClearing heads and relaxing tired legs – Eintracht coaches had these tasks Oliver Glasner given to his team after the training camp in Dubai. The professionals had two days to carry out this task. The team returned from the emirate on Saturday, and on Tuesday Glasner asked again for team training in the city forest. All the players seem to have completed at least the second part of the task: pedaling gently, they rode their bikes from the professional camp to the training ground – everyone except Tuta, who had an ankle injury, and Marcel Wenig, who recently ended his rehabilitation after breaking a metatarsal has.

Before the first Bundesliga matchday in the new year, on which Eintracht den FC Schalke 04 receives (Saturday, 3.30 p.m. in FAZ live ticker for the Bundesliga and at Sky), Glasner tried different variants of the back three in training – including with Kristijan Jakić on the right. The Croatian has played in different positions over the past few months.

“In the training camp I played in the sixth position and now for the first time on the right back. I don’t know yet where the coach will put me and if I’ll even play from the start,” said Jakić, referring to Saturday. But he is used to being used in a variety of ways and always adapting to new moves – even if he describes the six as his regular position, which he feels most comfortable in. But: “It doesn’t matter what position I’m playing in – my job is to defend the goal and not let anything get burned at the back.” That’s how he sees his job as a defender.

The best months of his life

The 25-year-old looks back on a time that he described as the best months of his life in an interview with the Eintracht club media. Victory in the Europa League final and third place in the World Cup with Croatia and the team’s subsequent reception in front of the fans were “simply unbelievable”.

Although Croatia coach Zlatko Dalić only replaced Frankfurt in Qatar for the last few minutes in the match for third place against Morocco, he has gained a lot of experience, been able to train a lot and enjoyed being one of 26 players in his country “part of the biggest football tournament in the world”, Jakić described his experiences. “Of course you’re happy when you get the chance to play more. But for me it is already a great honor to be appointed at all. I’m proud to be part of the national team.”

He spent the days after the World Cup at home in Croatia, where 2,000 people would have welcomed him in his hometown of Imotski. He didn’t have much time to regenerate. Training at Eintracht started again on January 3rd, followed by the flight to the training camp the day after. “Intense training was the order of the day there, with the exception of two free afternoons. We worked well for ten days,” said the defender, emphasizing how important it was to take the positive mood with us now.

With Schalke, there is no easy opponent waiting for his team. “We have to approach this game with great concentration after a long break,” demands Jakić and warns against underestimating the bottom of the table from the Ruhr area: “Schalke have now had time to regroup. And in general we know that the clubs from the bottom half of the table are not so good for us.” They want to avoid a false start to the new year at Eintracht – after all, another chapter should be added to the success story, as Oliver Glasner described it. And Jakić said: “Of course we want to start the second half of the season as well as we can.”

He has big goals with the Frankfurters, for whom he has been playing since September 2021: “I want to be in the top five in the Bundesliga. And even if some people laugh about it, my goal is to win the Champions League.” Jakić himself thinks that’s unlikely, but he firmly believes in his dream. The round of 16 games against SSC Napoli are scheduled for February and March. “You could see the level our team is at and what they achieved last year. If the opponent catches a wrong one, then anything is possible.”

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