Something exciting will be happening at the Florida Cup. But pay close attention because like the opening drop of a Universal roller coaster, it’s over in a short held breath.
The Eintracht Frankfurt counter-attack starts from an opponent’s turnover, and within seconds, the wings spread outside, the ball is played through the channel to one of the physical strikers then one-two touches to a surging midfielder, and the break is on. Options open up to the right and left and behind as confused defenders struggle to cover all of the attacking players and their precise runs toward the box. The ball finds the open man, and the finish hits the back of the net, sending Eagles fans into hysteria.
The Frankfurt attack. It’s invigorating, it’s thrilling, it’s—fun.
For the past few years, The Eagles have been building momentum. Last May, Frankfurt defeated Bayern Munich 3-1 to win the DFB Pokal, their fifth Cup title in club history. The win vaulted the club into the Europa League group stage for 2018.
A lot has changed since last May. Adi Hütter took over the side this summer after leading BSC Young Boys to a Swiss League championship. Hütter’s team has brought a dynamic change of pace to the Bundesliga this season and despite a small blip in early December, they’ve been one of the most enjoyable teams to watch this season. The three-headed monster known as Luka Jović, Sébastian Haller, and Ante Rebić have scored more goals than any attacking European trio this season except for PSG, Barcelona, and Dortmund. The midfield supports the attack with Filp Kostić and Danny da Costa up and down the flanks and Gelson Fernandes, Jetro Williams, Jonathan de Guzman, and Mijat Gaćinović controlling the middle with technical ability, athleticism, and speed. And with experience in the back, led by Asian Footballer of the Year Makoto Hasebe, captain Marco Russ, Mexican international Carlos Salcedo, and Evan N’Dicka, Frankfurt have reliable defenders who can lock down top opposing strikers, freeing the midfield horses to push forward on the attack. Kevin Trapp, on loan from PSG, has been in outstanding form all season, and had the save of the year against Munich in a double-save from short distance. Timmy Chandler, American international, is due back in the line-up in the new year after undergoing knee surgery in August.
Frankfurt caught fire in late September, running unbeaten through the Bundesliga and Europa League until their first loss in months to Wolfsburg in early December. The side had climbed to third place in the Bundesliga and were only a few points behind second-place Borussia Möchengladbach.
In 2019, Frankfurt look to build on a successful first half as they compete for a Champions League place and the Bundesliga title. Though leaders Dortmund have stumbled a bit lately, Frankfurt trail the top spot by fifteen points. The Eagles’ biggest test of the season will come in the second round of the Europa League in February when they face Shakhtar Donetsk. The Ukranian League leaders were relegated from the Champions League on the final matchday.Eintracht Frankfurt will play São Paulo January 10th at Al Lang Stadium and Flamengo on January 12th at Orlando City Stadium.