Borussia Mönchengladbach – Eintracht Frankfurt: Gladbach Capitalize During Moments That Matter (4-2)
Frankfurt’s 5-3-2 defensive structure has proven difficult to play through, however Gladbach’s fast transitional play saw them score four against Adi Hütter’s team, asserting their place on top of the Bundesliga standings.
Tactical analysis and match report by Joel Parker.
Both Borussia Mönchengladbach and Eintracht Frankfurt returned to Bundesliga action following a more upbeat Europa League matchday for both teams. Though the game was evenly contested, it would take a 95th minute penalty from Lars Stindl to draw against AS Roma, whilst Frankfurt comfortably dispatched Standard Liège to keep close tabs with Arsenal in Group F.
Though Adi Hütter and Marco Rose had yet to go head-to-head with one another, their pathways to the Bundesliga draw similarities. Whilst Hütter led Red Bull Salzburg to a domestic double back in 2015, Rose oversaw the Austrian teams under-16’s. Since then, both managers have enjoyed great success in their journey to their current clubs.
Hütter masterminded BSC Young Boys’ first top-flight title since 1986, before leading Frankfurt to the Europa League semi-finals last campaign. Rose would take Salzburg to new heights in Austria, not losing a single home match during his two-year stint, also reaching the Europa League semi-finals the year before Hütter. Two great tacticians meeting for the first time, a highly anticipated match, ever since Rose’s appointment in the summer.
Gladbach remained top of the table, despite the Dortmund curse haunting them once again last week. It is no secret that they have started the campaign in fine fashion, adopting the 4-3-1-2 structure to great effect.
Frankfurt went into the match day in eighth place, though could leapfrog the league leaders in the standings. Having sold their terrific attacking trio in the summer, Frankfurt recruited both Bas Dost and André Silva in the summer, scoring six between them; whilst Gonçalo Paciência has already scored more goals this season – five – than he did in the previous campaign.
Frankfurt’s defense superior early on
Gladbach’s ball progression has certainly been a key component in their attacking play, so nullifying them on the ball was a key objective for Frankfurt. Hütter lined up with both Daichi Kamada and Gonçalo Paciência on both of Gladbach’s center-backs, whilst one of the players in the midfield line broke out to press on Denis Zakaria.
Frankfurt’s defensive shape versus Gladbach, heavy numbers on Zakaria.
In their 5-3-2 defensive system, Frankfurt were enabled to push more men forward whenever Filip Kostić and Danny da Costa were part of the midfield line. This alternated between Sebastian Rode and Djibril Sow pushing up and applying pressure on Zakaria, whilst the two other central midfielders were able to occupy László Bénes or Florian Neuhaus in the buildup.
There wasn’t anything drastically different in Frankfurt’s defensive shape, however, there was an emphasis on man-marking and overloading When one team has more players in a certain area or zone than the other team. specific areas when Gladbach could potentially lose possession. Hütter’s men were well-calculated in their pressing game, rather than just aimlessly sprinting forward, closing passing options only when the time was right to push up the field.
These factors gave Frankfurt positional superiority in the matches early stages. Gladbach struggled to effectively break through the middle third If you divide the pitch in three horizontal zones, the middle third is the most central area. of the pitch and access good positions to take a shot at goal.
Gladbach find a way through
After initially struggling to get into the final third, The far side is the side of the pitch where the ball is not. Marco Rose’s team adapted and found a way to play between the midfield and defensive lines. Fast attacking transitions were the answer and once the Frankfurt defense were caught daydreaming, Gladbach’s counters were an alarming wake up call.
The first opportunity originating from a counterattack would be the game’s opening goal. With possession given away cheaply from Frankfurt, Patrick Herrmann’s channel pass broke the midfield line and into the path of Breel Embolo. A neat one-two between himself and Bénes gave Embolo acres of space to run into. Even a poor first touch still gave the Swiss striker the time and space to pull the ball back across goal for Marcus Thuaram to have an easy finish. Frankfurt caught well out of shape in a quick move up the field.
Embolo would soon go off due to an injury, replaced by Lars Stindl whose role was slightly different. Instead of consistently making runs behind the defense like Embolo, Stindl dropped deeper and became a good link for Thuram and Bénes.
Stindl would also be involved in Gladbach’s second of the game. Frankfurt failed to clear a quick free-kick from Bénes, Stindl and Herrmann exchanging a nice one-two combination for Herrmann to cross into the penalty area. Sow’s tackle on Thuram rolled perfectly into the path of Oscar Wendt, before thumping the ball past Frederik Rønnow.
Frankfurt score against the run of play
Both teams made personnel changes at half time, Louis Beyer replacing the injured Tony Jantschke for Gadbach, whilst Frankfurt took off Sebastian Rode for Dominik Kohr. Gladbach only grew stronger in the second half’s opening phases – their fast attacking transitions giving them better access than they had done in the first half.
When Frankfurt looked to overload the flanks, the player on the ball had an option to pass the ball in more central areas. This gave Gladbach the option to exploit isolated areas and they moved possession more effectively, all that was missing was a final ball to get into better shooting positions.
Passing lane opens up for Gladbach to progress towards center of the pitch.
Up to this point, Frankfurt had offered nothing other than crosses to access the penalty area. After attempting eleven, to no success, during the first half, Hütter’s team finally had some luck when Kostić’s cross was excellently brought down by Diachi Kamada at the back post. Kamada pulled the ball back into the six-yard box for Danny da Costa to strike. Frankfurt were back in the match with a goal on the hour mark, and momentum soon switched.
Frankfurt were final able to get on the ball and gain some control, often opting to switch the ball out wide in order to make progress up the field. The movement of Kamada was pivotal for Frankfurt, roaming across the final third before getting into great positions in the box. Having been on the back foot for most of the match, Hütter’s team were back in with a shout.
Back and forth but finished by Gladbach
Though Frankfurt were knocking, another free-kick from Bénes caused them problems and Nico Elvedi’s header glided over the goalkeeper and off the back post to bounce in. Most matches would end by this point – a two-goal lead with fifteen minutes left – but Frankfurt pulled another goal back to create a very intriguing final ten. Kamada’s corner was met by Martin Hinteregger, heading the ball towards the back post and in.
With Adi Hütter smelling blood, his final rolls of the dice would see Timothy Chandler and Dejan Joveljić come on in exchange for Kostić and Gelson Fernandes. Frankfurt’s intentions were clear with an extra striker, though defensively, they fell asleep for Gladbach to finish the game off.
Wendt’s run towards the left channel opened a passing lane for Thuram to find Lars Stindl just outside the penalty area. Stindl managed to maintain possession despite pressure, playing Denis Zakaria into a great position for him to add a fourth to Gladbach’s tally and effectively decide the match.
To be contesting for any top spots in the league, a solid home record is an absolute must, for any team. Having failed to taste victory in their previous ten Bundesliga home matches, winning the last three is a huge boost early in the season for Marco Rose’s team. Gladbach remain top of the table, almost ten matches in.
Frankfurt did not deserve to concede four goals, but gaining momentum towards the end doesn’t make up for a lackluster defending during the goals that were conceded. Adi Hütter’s team are still well in the bunch, but a home match against Bayern Munich threatens to add distance from the top four positions.
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