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Eintracht Frankfurt against Saint-Gilloise: Hot guys are in demand

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Eintracht Frankfurt against Saint-Gilloise: Hot guys are in demand

Round of 16 or out – it’s all or nothing. Eintracht knows this. But so does Royale Union Saint-Gilloise. Dino Toppmöller, the Frankfurt football teacher, is looking forward to part two in the Conference League play-offs. Already in the first leg, Eintracht got the impression of uncomfortable, fast and uncompromising Belgians.

This Thursday, late in the evening under floodlights (9 p.m. in the FAZ live ticker for the Conference League and on RTL), this shouldn’t happen a second time. “We want to use our home advantage,” said Toppmöller on Wednesday after the final training session in the catacombs of the Frankfurt Arena. “With our fans as the twelfth man. We definitely want to advance to the next round.”

The round of 16 will be drawn on Friday – and Eintracht wants to do everything they can to ensure that their name is on one of the 16 pieces of paper. “I’m ready,” said Sebastian Rode. Together with Toppmöller, the Frankfurt captain sat on the podium in the basement of the arena at the mandatory press conference. “I’m really looking forward to it,” said the 33-year-old captain, who is in the final stretch of his career. He’ll end in the summer. Until then, he wants to experience a few more magical European Cup nights with Eintracht. “The atmosphere against Saint-Gilloise will be fantastic,” predicted Rode and promised: “We will play a great game on the field.”

“Super” games have rarely been played in connection with Eintracht recently. Neither in the first leg in Brussels a week ago nor last Sunday in the Bundesliga core business in Freiburg did Toppmöller’s team manage to gain a lead over time. The 2-2 draw in Belgium is a dangerous result. Eintracht has to win, which in turn should make them the more active team this Thursday. But this gives the Belgians room for counterattacks. “We need a good mix,” emphasized Toppmöller.

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“Don’t fall into self-pity”

He had already said that the previous week – and then there was this unnecessary dalliance and play in their own penalty area and Saint-Gilloise took advantage of the unexpected invitation to score the groundbreaking goal. Rode was the only Eintracht professional who appeared later in the Belgian capital. “I was very disappointed,” said Rode. “Because we carelessly squandered our good starting position.” This is also why Rode now sees a completely different focus on the team. “We’re all hot,” claimed the captain. Toppmöller’s hope and demand: “We have to be on the pitch for 90 minutes in the first 35 minutes.”

Toppmöller has to make personnel changes again. Robin Koch, suspended in Freiburg, will take on the role of middle man in the three-man defense chain. On offense, Omar Marmoush will storm up front. The fact that Sasa Kalajdzic will no longer be able to help Eintracht this season because of his torn cruciate ligament is bitter for the player “and a loss for us,” as his coach said, “because Sasa was hired as absolute reinforcement. It’s a total shame that he’s not there. I comforted him and hugged him,” said Toppmöller about the encounter with the Austrian after his extremely unfortunate injury in Freiburg. Eintracht without two-meter man Kalajdzic: “It is what it is,” said Toppmöller and recommended “not to fall into self-pity now.”

If someone can’t do it, someone else has to do it. Marmoush has been primarily responsible for the gates department for months. The man from the land of the pyramids has improved a lot since he has the eagle on his chest and is no longer on the ball for Wolfsburg.

Nine Bundesliga goals make the Egyptian the most successful and dangerous Frankfurt attacker. The fact that he could be formally and alone against Saint-Gilloise is only half the story. Help is coming from left and right. Good for Marmoush and Eintracht: Fares Chaibi and Ansgar Knauff are also in form. The latter in particular, as his two direct hits in the 3-3 draw in Freiburg made clear.

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Toppmöller gave his team general praise on Wednesday: “The collective is strong.” The young Swede Hugo Larsson was part of this community for months. A week and a half ago he suffered a tendon injury in his thigh against Bochum, which, according to the prognosis, means he will be out for around three weeks. Individually, the endurance runner is already training again in front of the defense. But he is not an option for the knockout game against Saint-Gilloise. “We will have Hugo back with us soon,” said his coach.

The other Hugo in the Eintracht team, striker Ekitiké, is ready for action but is still not a candidate for the starting eleven. The Frenchman, who played no role at Paris Saint-Germain for months and hardly trained at all, has a lot to catch up on. It’s enough for short-term assignments, although Toppmöller didn’t always agree with Ekitiké’s performances. “In the first leg I wasn’t happy with his performance after coming on as a substitute,” said Toppmöller.

Jörg Daniels, Marc Heinrich, Peter Heß and Ralf Weitbrecht Published/Updated: , Peter Heß Published/Updated: Ralf Weitbrecht Published/Updated: Recommendations: 1

The Eintracht coach can hardly be satisfied with his team’s standard situations. Goals from corners? Rarely. Directly converted free kicks? None. “We have relatively little time to train such things,” said Toppmöller and also referred to the coming English weeks. “We’re not happy about it because we don’t score enough easy goals that would help us.” If it’s such a simple and proven means to be successful, Toppmöller has to create space for it in his daily routine.

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