Frankfurt vs Apollon – Thursday, October 25, 20:00BST/21:00 CEST – Frankfurt Stadion, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
It was a slow, perhaps by definition a disastrous, start for Eintracht Frankfurt into the current Bundesliga season. The DFB Pokal champions lost 5-0 to Bayern in the DFL Supercup and then followed that result up with a 2-1 defeat to Regionalliga (fourth division) side SSV Ulm 1846 in the first round of the German Cup. In the Bundesliga, Frankfurt collected just one win in the first five games.
Hence, after matchday 5 was in the books, some already started to doubt new head coach Adi Hütter. The 48-year-old Austrian had taken over from Niko Kovac, who in turn had taken the Bayern München job this summer, and Kovac seemed impossibly large shoes to fill after winning the Cup last summer, ending 30-year long title drought.
Slowly, but surely, however, Hütter started to turn things around at Eintracht. It was always going to take time to move away from Kovac’s physical play to a more cultural approach, but by matchday 5 Frankfurt’s players seemed to understand the sort of football Hütter expected. On matchday 6 Frankfurt dismantled Hannover 4-1 in a game in which die Adler’s individual quality one the day. Then Eintracht repeated the trick by defeating Lazio 4-1 at home, which was already their second win in the Europa League this season, before beating Hoffenheim 2-1 and the unexpectedly crushing Fortuna Düsseldorf, thanks to five goals by Luka Jović, 7-1.
In other words, die Adler (Eagles) have been soaring. Now on Thursday, they are facing the Cypriot side Apollon Limassol for the first time in history.
The two matches against Apollon in some ways will be like two match balls for Eintracht. Win both and die Adler will be on 12 points and with Lazio and Olympique Lyon taking points from each other may have qualified for the round of 32 after just four matchdays in the Europa League.
But while Apollon have never won, or even scored, against German sides, Eintracht should not underestimate last season’s runners-up from the Cypriot First Division. Still unbeaten with three wins in five games Apollon have an incredible goal differential of +17. Win and die Adler set the stage to get the job done in Cyprus in two weeks time. Given the recent form, anything but a positive result would be a surprise as Frankfurt are playing with the freedom created by confidence.
Frankfurt vs Apollon – Players to look out for:
Luka Jović #8 – Eintracht Frankfurt
Luka Jović wrote history on Friday night against Fortuna Düsseldorf. The 20-year-old Serbian striker is now the youngest player in the Bundesliga to have scored five goals in one Bundesliga game. Furthermore, in the last 30 years, only two other players, Robert Lewandowski (2015) and Michael Tönnies (1991) managed to score five goals in one game. “I haven’t seen many striker like him. Luka has enormous potential,” Hütter told the media after the game. Frankfurt signed Jović on loan from Benfica in the summer of 2017. Jović had struggled in Portugal after completing a difficult transfer from Red Star to Benfica. Lacking playing time Jović then decided to make the move to Germany and Eintracht sporting director was clever enough to anchor a buy-on clause of €12 million into his loan contract. Frankfurt are now more than willing to trigger the clause for the forward, who is often compared to Colombian striker Falcao.
Facundo Pereyra #14 – Apollon Limassol
Facundo Pereyra has been in excellent form in the Cypriot First Division this season. In four games the 31-year-old Argentine has already managed five goals scoring every 55 minutes for his club. The story is, however, different in the Europa League. Here Pereyra has struggled to find the net as he is still waiting for his first goal in seven games (including qualifying). Nonetheless, the 31-year-old is a dangerous forward, who can hurt his opponent.
Frankfurt vs Apollon – Match Stats
- Eintracht have won both of their previous matches against Cypriot opposition without conceding, whereas Apollon have lost all three of theirs against German clubs without scoring.
- The Cypriot side’s one previous fixture in Germany, a UEFA Europa League group stage encounter at Borussia Mönchengladbach in 2014/15, yielded their heaviest defeat in this competition (0-5).
- Eintracht’s only European participation in the past dozen seasons came in 2013/14, when they successfully negotiated the UEFA Europa League play-offs and group stage before going out to Porto in the round of 32.
- The 1980 UEFA Cup winners won four of their five home fixtures in that 2013/14 campaign, including all three in the group stage, and have not lost at home in Europe since 2006 – a run of seven matches (W5 D2). Eintracht have won 12 of their last 15 European home games.
- Apollon have been in three previous UEFA Europa League group campaigns – a fourth is a record for a Cypriot club – but have never progressed beyond this stage, finishing third in their section in 2013/14 and fourth in both 2014/15 and 2017/18.
- Apollon’s record in the group stage is W2 D5 L13 with no wins in the last 13. Should they fail to beat Frankfurt, they will set a new record for the longest run in the competition proper without a victory.
- The Limassol club have won only one of their last seven European away fixtures, losing the other six, although they did draw in last season’s group stage at English Premier League side Everton (2-2).
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Frankfurt vs Apollon – 3-1
Frankfurt vs Apollon – Lineups
Trapp – Ndicka, Hasebe, Abraham – Kostić, Gaćinović, Torro, Rebić, da Costa – Jović, Haller
Head Coach: Adi Hütter
Vale – Vasiliou, Roberge, Yuste, João Pedro – Sachetti, Kyriakou – Schembri, Papoulis, Pereyra – Maglica
Head Coach: Sofronis Avgousti
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and among others works for the Bundesliga and Pro Soccer USA. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which is available HERE. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.