Bundesliga: Frankfurt feeding off Euro euphoria | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 17.02.2019
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Bundesliga: Frankfurt feeding off Euro euphoria

A fifth consecutive draw could be seen as a sign that the Europa League is once again taking its toll on a Bundesliga team. Not so at Eintracht, where players, coach and fans are reveling in it.

There is a word in German to describe the weight carried by a football team competing simultaneously on two fronts: Doppelbelastung.

Literally translated as a "double burden," several Bundesliga teams have suffered from the effects of the Doppelbelastung in recent seasons, their domestic form suffering as small squads are over-stretched by midweek exertions in European competition.

Supporters of Mainz, Freiburg, Augsburg and Hertha Berlin can all testify to that, as can fans of bigger clubs such as Schalke and Borussia Mönchengladbach. In Cologne, the subject is still best avoided.

Which makes it all the more remarkable that Eintracht Frankfurt aren't just dealing with their Doppelbelastung this season; they're positively revelling in it.

Not only did the Eagles come soaring through a group containing Lazio and Marseille with six wins from six, they did so while holding their own in the top third of the Bundesliga.

And on Sunday, just three days after drawing 2-2 away at Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk, they drew 1-1 with high-flying Gladbach.

"We've always said that we're happy to take on this Doppelbelastung," said a satisfied Adi Hütter post-match, the Austrian head coach not looking too downhearted despite Denis Zakaria's late equalizer cancelling out Danny da Costa's strike, which had put Frankfurt ahead against the run of play with the final kick of the first half.

1. Bundesliga | Eintracht Frankfurt - Borussia Mönchengladbach (Getty Images/Bongarts/A. Grimm)

Eintracht Frankfurt have thrived this season, despite the 'double burden' of Bundesliga and Europa League football.

"We haven't lost a single game after a Europa League away fixture,” he continued. "Today, we've got a 1-1 draw against the third-best side in the Bundesliga, so I have to pay a huge complement to my players."

Gladbach, on the other hand, with only the Bundesliga to concentrate on, had had an entire week to recover from their 3-0 defeat to Hertha Berlin, and it showed in the first half. With Florian Neuhaus pulling the strings in midfield alongside Zakaria, and Thorgan Hazard repeatedly finding space down the left, Frankfurt were fortunate not to fall behind.

"We've had so little time to regenerate,” said Hütter in mitigation. "We've hardly been able to do anything tactically apart from a bit of video work. Otherwise, we've gone for more of a hedgehog tactic today, but my players have the right mentality."

It's a mentality that isn't restricted to the dressing room. The whole club, the whole city, and everybody associated with Eintracht Frankfurt is revelling in the Eagles' return to Europe.

"Europa Cup! Europa Cup!" chanted the hardcore supporters on the northeast terrace at full time - 3,000 of whom had traveled to Ukraine in the week - despite a fifth consecutive draw.

Still, as Hütter was keen to point out, those draws aren't bad considering the opposition: Werder Bremen, Borussia Dortmund, RB Leipzig, Shakhtar Donetsk and now Gladbach.

With Hannover, Düsseldorf, Nuremberg and Stuttgart to come in the next month, there will be enough opportunities for Frankfurt to start picking up points again.

Another draw against Shakhtar on Thursday would likely see them progress even further in Europe, further feeding the euphoria in Germany's financial hub on the River Main. "The atmosphere around the club and in the whole city is incredible at the moment," one fan told DW in the February sunshine ahead of kickoff.

"Everyone wants these European trips. Everybody wants these experiences. Everybody is so hungry for it."

Whether on the pitch or off it, Eintracht Frankfurt seem immune to the Doppelbelastung.

 

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