Oliver Glasner ran towards the fans with his team, but unlike his players, the Eintracht Frankfurt coach stopped in front of the black and white block. With his hands crossed and at a distance, Glasner attended the celebrations between his team and the fans. As in a large-screen cinema, he looked impressed in the stands of the steeply rising stadium, in which 3,000 Eintracht fans were making noise as if they were 30,000 like in Barcelona recently.
The endless rituals of joy – the players threw their shirts at the crowd and hugged the spectators down the aisle – must have made Glasner realize what a coup he had just done. For the first time since 1980, half-time, Frankfurt Eintracht are on the verge of reaching a European Cup final with a superb 2-1 (1-1) win over West Ham United in the first Europa League semi-final. League. .
However, for players and coaches who have never reached that far internationally, it may be advisable not to even think about it before Thursday’s second game. The historic dimension can be as overwhelming as the strength of this club – where the professional department is most likely to be pushed towards high performance by the power of supporters. In Frankfurt there is “only the Europa League as an issue,” Glasner noted. This can become “an immeasurable effect” that excites “a few extra points”.
Frankfurt is unbeaten in the eleven competitive matches of this round of the Europa League
Unlike the Frankfurt DFB Cup winners in 2018 and the Europa League semi-finalists in 2019, who had dazzling personalities in Kevin-Prince Boateng, Ante Rebic and Luka Jovic, the current success is based particularly on a team effort – or rather, given symbiosis between players and fans, in a club performance. The fact that all professionals contribute equally to the collective is arguably the biggest compliment to Glasner.
Out of respect for Frankfurt’s well-tested processes, West Ham coach David Moyes lined up his squad with the change to a three-man defense behind Eintracht. But the Londoners’ plan to reflect the opponent’s order to exploit the supposed individual (and physical) superiority in many duels only worked when Michail Antonio made it 1-1 in the meantime (21st minute). Instead, Frankfurt’s Ansgar Knauff made use of the position mistake made by Pablo Fornals, who had little experience as a left winger, to take the lead after just 51 seconds. Knauff, which was used primarily in the third category until the winter break, is considered one of the revelations of the second half of the season.
Because Eintracht had not made a single contribution to his position in the first half of the season, sporting director Markus Krösche took him on loan from Dortmund – a direct hit. Because of his speed and dexterity, Eintracht now has a counterpart on Filip Kostic on the left, one of the team’s most sought-after players. At the same time, Glasner strengthened the defense, paying special attention to the counterattack defense.
Even against West Ham, it was evident that the differences between the different parts of the team were narrow. The performance of his players, Glasner said, was “simply fantastic” – especially the winning goal by Daichi Kamada (54), which was preceded by a brilliant pass from Jesper Lindström. This means that Frankfurt is still undefeated in the eleven competitive matches in this round of the Europa League.
There is only one test left before the long-awaited final
Compared to seventh place in the Premier League, which rose significantly from the expectations of nearly 60,000 local fans at London’s sold-out stadium, Frankfurt seemed to benefit from the European Cup experience of previous seasons. In particular, the axis around goalkeeper Trapp, center-backs Hinteregger and cleaner Rode, who played a role in the painful semi-final penalties against Chelsea three years ago, radiated sovereignty and maturity. West Ham, who suffered from injury in the center of defense, did not have this image of himself.
Glasner, 47, laid the groundwork for this with his capable coaching management and a clear focus on international competition, although the Austrian has never faced this challenge in his coaching career. The team was able to split their forces – despite the last seven meetings in 22 days. Last but not least, the merits of athletics leader Andreas Beck, team doctor Florian Pfab and their staff.
Before the final, Frankfurt now has only one test left. Unlike previous Europa League games, Eintracht then bears the burden of losing something for the first time. But it is better not to think about it.