The 2021/22 saw Eintracht Frankfurt crowned as champions of the Europa League. The German team had a spectacular tournament, leaving the likes of Real Betis, FC Barcelona, West Ham and the Glasgow Rangers in their wake.
In this article, analyst Fernando Nuñez brings us another fascinating tactical analysis, looking at Frankfurt and their run in the Europa League.
German teams have always been famous for their intensity of play and devastating attack. The famous German “roll” applies suffocating pressure and constant player-heavy attacks. Couple this with great physical power and German teams are always difficult to play against.
You know the big names, Bayern Munich, Leverkusen, Gladbach, Dortmund, and little by little, Eintracht are starting to cosy up to them. Although they don’t have the biggest budget, this team is garnering a reputation for playing the market well, signing both young players and the more experienced who haven’t reached their full potential.
Evidently this policy is bearing fruit. Champions of Europe’s second tier, Frankfurt have eliminated some massive teams on their road to glory, including Barcelona with a memorable display at the Nou Camp.
Oliver Gasner’s men play attacking, high speed football. They love taking risks in attack, loading up the area, ready to pounce. Their defense is based on high pressure with an aim to recover possession as high as possible.
With a 3-5-2 formation, Eintracht likes to set up their attacks from the back. Here, the two wingers play an extremely important role as they fall back, almost to the same height as the midfield.
In turn, the midfielders place themselves on the inside to form one long line, with one of them moving forward on occasions.
One of the strikers will position themselves just inside the opposition field, ready to receive a pass behind the opposition full back. The other striker will stick close by in case a long ball is played and there’s a rebound.
Positioning is similar for both short and long ball plays.
An essential part of Eintracht’s success, as demonstrated throughout the Europa league, is their offensive plan. Here, the mobility of the forward line is key, as they coordinate well to open up possibilities in attack.
One of the forwards usually moves towards the wing, looking to use his speed to get an advantage on the side. The other forward stays near the area, looking to receive a pass between the lines of the opposition, or to get on the end of a rebound.
We should also highlight the number of players that Eintracht accumulate in front of the ball, making it easy for them to advance their attack. It’s not unusual to find four or five players in front of the line of the ball.
Two are placed open on the wings and three on the inside, looking to receive a pass between the lines or behind the defense.
A big strength of this team are the wide midfielders and how they push into the box for attacks. Frankfurt incorporates up to four players in different positions a the front, one at the near post, one at the far, one in the middle and one on the penalty spot. By doing this, they cover all the shooting zones. A fifth player usually hangs back, waiting for rebounds.
With a defensive formation of 3-2-3-2, Eintracht divide their defense into two phases, something that we’ve seen through their Europa League campaign. The first phase is set up to hinder the initial movement of the ball and ends up in a 5-3-2 if the opposition gets too close to the Eintracht goal.
In this first phase, they leave the opposite side of the field unguarded, concentrating on the side where the ball is positioned. This is a risk, but if the opposition change wings, then they fall back to the 5-3-2 formation to defend. They accumulate as many people in the middle, forcing the opposition to go wide, where they restart the pressure.
Eintracht take a lot of risks in attack, but this is a plan which has worked well during the Europa League and, ultimately, has seen them crowned as champions.
However, Eintracht are adept at falling back and, thus, it’s very difficult to surprise them on the counter. This gives them more freedom to load up the box and also means that the team can line up in 5-4-1 formation, depending on the match.
Applying pressure has probably been one of the keys to Eintracht’s success in the Europa league. The defense forces the opposition towards the wing, and it’s here that they turn the screw.
They often let the opposition push into their own half, which in turn leaves spaces out front for Eintracht to fill. Once the opposition enter their half, they push them wide and apply pressure rapidly, with up to four players surrounding the ball holder.
After applying pressure and winning the ball back, Frankfurt counter at full speed, deploying many players to the attack.
Two players push out wide in front of the ball to provide verticality and make runs behind the opposition lines.
Another player drives through the central lane to pin the opposition defense.
In addition, two players follow the ball, staying just behind so that, in the event of a loss of possession, they can press and recover as quickly as possible, or give their teammates a chance to fall back and regroup.
Right after losing possession, the players closest to the ball will start a high press, surrounding the ball holder, forcing him to make a rushed pass or pass backwards, allowing them to get organised defensively.
At the same time, Eintracht are prepared to apply pressure if they lose the ball during a forward pass. Since they have many players in front of the ball, their positioning is key to not leaving much space for their opposition.
The new champions are a very colourful team who are fun to watch, especially as they attack at breakneck speed with many supporting players.
One part of the campaign which will live long in the memories of players and fans alike is the defeat of Barcelona at the Nou Camp stadium, in which they ran out victors by three goals.
Without a doubt, they were deserving champions, beating bigger teams with huge budgets, but doing so with speed, flare and conviction.
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Until next time, thanks for reading!
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