Frankfurt has rest of Bundesliga taking notice
BERLIN (AP) — Weeks of spectacular attacking soccer from Eintracht Frankfurt have got the rest of the Bundesliga sitting up and taking notice.
The club is enjoying its best ever Bundesliga campaign, has reached the Europa League quarterfinals, and is closing in on Champions League qualification.
"You can now describe us as a top team," said Frankfurt coach Adi Huetter, whose team is unbeaten in 14 games in all competitions and has won five straight in the Bundesliga -- matching a club record.
Frankfurt had never before reached 49 points after 27 matches. It also will face Benfica in the Europa League quarterfinals after victories over Inter Milan, Shakhtar Donetsk and a German-record of six wins from six matches in the group stage.
The only blot on Huetter's record in his debut season was the first round German Cup exit against fourth-tier club Ulm in August. Frankfurt was the defending champion after beating Bayern Munich in the final last season.
But that embarrassing slip-up is long forgotten thanks to the attacking trio of Luka Jovic, Sebastien Haller and Ante Rebic, who have emerged among the Bundesliga's best with 16, 14 and eight goals, respectively. They have been involved in 46 of the team's 54 league goals.
Jovic, who scored in Sunday's 3-0 win over Stuttgart, has been linked with Real Madrid and Barcelona, but the 21-year-old Serbia striker is only one part of the team's success, with Filip Kostic (two goals), Gelson Fernandes and Sebastian Rode also playing a part.
"What they deliver is running work par excellence," said sporting director Fredi Bobic, whose team took advantage of Borussia Moenchengladbach's 3-1 loss at promoted Fortuna Duesseldorf on Saturday to move into fourth place. "The lads are paid to score goals, but they also help out in defense."
Gladbach's loss dropped it out of the top four for the first time since September. The team, which conceded all three goals in the first 16 minutes, has only one win from its last seven league games.
"This is not how we want to play soccer," sporting director Max Eberl said. "This is not Borussia Moenchengladbach."
Gladbach coach Dieter Hecking - praised for the team's performances earlier in the season when it won its first nine games at home - is coming under increasing pressure after the marked drop. A 5-1 loss at home against Bayern Munich on March 2 hasn't helped.
"Perhaps we have to look at the way we deal with the guys," Hecking said. "It'll be my job with my coaching team to find the right words and measures."
Gladbach next faces a visit from in-form Werder Bremen on Sunday, while Frankfurt faces struggling Schalke on Saturday looking for a club record sixth straight victory.
"We're now in fourth place," Rode said. "We don't want to give it away."