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How Eintracht Frankfurt have fallen down the Bundesliga table

Bundesliga side Eintracht Frankfurt have lost four games in a row after suffering a 2-1 defeat to Freiburg. After a successful start to the season, why are things suddenly going wrong?

Frankfurt's recent struggles got worse on Matchday 23 when they blew an early lead at home to Freiburg. It was their fourth consecutive loss in the league and they have now dropped three places in the standings in three weeks.

Only Darmstadt and Ingolstadt, both of whom are in the relegation zone, have collected as few or fewer points than Frankfurt in 2017. But how has this Frankfurt team, one that looked in position to return to European competition for the first time in four seasons, completely fallen apart?

Deutschland Eintracht Frankfurt v SC Freiburg - Bundesliga (Getty Images/Bongarts/A. Grimm)

Frankfurt suffered a 2-1 home defeat to Freiburg despite taking the lead

Power outage in the final third

Frankfurt's attack was average even when they were mixing it up at the top of the table. Their 22 goals in 16 league games before the winter break was the lowest of any team in the top six - but it has gotten much worse in 2017. Branimir Hrgota's goal in the defeat to Freiburg was Frankfurt's first in the league in four weeks.

Leading scorer Alex Meier has not been himself this season, finding the net just five times in 19 appearances after scoring 12 in the same number of matches last season. But the support around him has also been lacking - only Ante Rebic and Makoto Hasebe have hit the target in 2017, and Hasebe's was on a penalty.

Some may point to the defense, which has conceded as many goals (12) in the seven league games in 2017 as it did in 16 games in the 2016 portion of the season, as the main issue. But a team can't win if they don't find the back of the net.

Lack of discipline

There is only one category in which Frankfurt has been top. Their 61 yellow and six red cards are the most in the Bundesliga. This has resulted in 10 suspensions, six of which have had to be served in 2017. Frankfurt have lost three of the four games in 2017 in which at least one player has been suspended.

Deutschland Eintracht Frankfurt - SC Freiburg | Nico Kovac (picture alliance/Promediafoto/M. Deines)

Coach Niko Kovac felt aggreived by the match officials in the Freiburg defeat

The Eagles have used their aggressive style of play to go at several top teams in the Bundesliga, but their lack of discipline is starting to catch up with them. It is bound to be hard for head coach Niko Kovac to turn things around if he cannot rely on a consistent pool of players from which to build his lineup every week.

Key injuries

Though the Frankfurt squad has remained relatively fit after a tumultuous campaign last season, injuries to Jesus Vallejo and Marco Fabian have affected the team's performance.

Fabian was hitting form in his first full season with Frankfurt, scoring three goals and providing four assists before suffering an injury in the midseason break. Vallejo, on loan from Real Madrid, had started all but one league game before coming off injured in Frankfurt's 2-0 loss against Ingolstadt. Meier has struggled with his fitness as well, having to start the game on Sunday on the bench due to an illness.

Those injuries, coupled with the suspensions, have left Kovac with a very thin squad. Some of his selections, like Hrgota's inclusion against Freiburg, resulted from not having any other option.

Watch video 01:04

Marco Fabián talks to DW a year after joining Frankfurt

Bleak outlook

Perhaps the worst part of Frankfurt's four-game losing streak is that their losses have come against teams below them in the table. They still have away matches against Bayern Munich, Cologne, Borussia Dortmund and Hoffenheim to come before they host Leipzig on the last day of the season.

Frankfurt have progressed well after only avoiding relegation in the playoff last season, but their recent form suggests that those struggles aren't as far behind them as they may have hoped.

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