The Eagles have struggled this season to shake off the ghosts of last campaign's dazzling attacking displays. Adi Hütter's side must now show against Dortmund that they still have the firepower to match the big teams.
The general consensus following Eintracht Frankfurt’s meltdown against Arsenal in the Europa League this week was that, despite the horrific score line, they’d played well. More possession, more passes, more corners, more shots. If only their toothless attack hadn't let them down.
Were Eintracht good going forward last season? Really? Why's nobody mentioned that at any point during this campaign? They have? Well then why don’t they mention it a few more times?
Let’s all agree to move on now. There needs to be an official ban on any mention of last season’s attack. No articles, no smug television punditry, no ENRAGED CAPS LOCK TWITTER TIRADES. It’s over. There’s a new #FrontThree to purr over anyway. Smart acquisitions, as is almost always the case with Eintracht, but ones that will only really work out if they shrug off the ghosts of their predecessors.
Fearsome Frontline 2.0
Andre Silva has been brought in on loan. His mercurial talent made him a €38m signing for AC Milan two years ago but it needs a little persuasion at times; an arm round the shoulder from Adi Hütter; a brace against Dortmund at the weekend, perhaps. If he does start to fire, the Eagles could have a young striker of world class instinct sniffing around opposition areas. That’s a good start.
A safer, albeit less thrilling, gamble arrived this summer in the hulking form of Bas Dost. The Dutch targetman has plundered – Dost always “plunders” — 219 goals in 410 career appearances, 37 of which arrived in the Bundesliga during a fruitful spell with Wolfsburg. He knows the league and, at just €7m, Dost looks like a cracking piece of business and has the physicality to bring the best out of his new teammates.
Goncalo Paciencia, meanwhile, has emerged as the hero Frankfurt need this season. The Portuguese striker has been at the club for over a year but is only now beginning to hit his stride. Becoming a club's main man can do wonders for certain centre forwards and Paciencia’s form this year suggests he has that type of ego. Six goals in ten starts is an excellent ratio and, if the 25-year old can bang in a couple more against Dortmund at the weekend, he’ll have marked himself out as one of the early season’s star performers.
This is the front three we should be talking about now.
Meanwhile, a stubborn defense survived the summer transfer window and, in Danny da Costa and Filip Kostic, Eintracht still boast arguably the best attacking wingbacks in Europe. It’s a team in transition, certainly, but one which looks ready to explode as soon as things fall into place.
Dortmund back on form
Lucien Favre will know all of this, of course. He’ll also know his side hasn’t won once in their previous five visits to Frankfurt and that their hosts haven’t lost at home in the league this campaign.
He’ll also be aware his players have a habit of wilting when the air gets thick. Union Berlin’s An Der Alten Försterei (“at the old woodcutter’s cabin”) may sound like a cozy woodland haunt, but the deafening noise from the stands spooked his young team as they fell to a shock defeat. Frankfurt fans pride themselves on causing a scene.
That being said, Dortmund are a team further along in transition than their match day five opponents and, following the 4-0 spanking of Champions League participants Bayer Leverkusen last weekend, are back on top form.
In Marco Reus, Jadon Sancho and Paco Alcacer, Favre can unleash one of the Bundesliga’s finest front threes against Frankfurt on Sunday. But, should things finally click for Adi Hütter’s side, he might just have the firepower to match it.
Elsewhere on Matchday 5
There is plenty going on elsewhere across Germany. Schalke host Mainz in Friday's game with the sides at opposite ends of the table. Schalke look themselves again in that they're wonderfully inconsistent - as opposed to consistently terrible - and a win could send them top of the league before the rest of the weekend's fixtures take place.
Bayern and Leipzig both play on Saturday, following last weekend's tense 1-1 draw. Bayern host lowly Cologne, and will hope for a slip from their title rivals as Julian Nagelsmann's boys visit Bremen.
Freiburg will hope to continue their excellent early season for with a home victory in the "Battle of the Burgs". They should do, too, given how terrible Ausgburg have started the campaign. With an almost biblical slice of luck, Christian Streich's side could finish the weekend top of the Bundesliga.
Hertha and Paderborn are gearing up for a "who is less bad?" affair in the German capital on Saturday. Neither side has picked up a win so far this season. The smart money's on a draw, and a goalless one at that.
Finally, Gladbach and Bayer Leverkusen will look to vanquish the ghosts of a woeful European matchday with wins over Fortuna Düsseldorf and Union Berlin respectively, while Wolfsburg are expected to beat struggling Hoffenheim in Monday's late game.