The Bundesliga is Back Baby!
Eintracht Frankfurt vs Borussia Monchengladbach
It was in mid-March (exactly two months ago) when I last sat down in anticipation of an exciting live football clash.
Borussia Dortmund versus Schalke was my Saturday afternoon staple until, just a short time before kick-off, I found out the match, and that of all others across most European football leagues, had been called off.
You can imagine my disappointment. Not only was I looking forward to it but it meant that, instead, my dearly beloved handed me a list of tasks to fill the time!
Since then the wardrobe has been tidied, the fence painted and every shrub and bush in the garden manicured to within an inch of its life!
Oh welcome back football. Or as they say in Germany, Willkommen zurück Fußball – it’s good to see you again!
So, this contest is 12th versus fourth and one which will probably be watched by more people than normal – on television.
For as well as regular Bundesliga fans, there will be plenty of new viewers with other major leagues not commencing for a few weeks at least.
That’s because the Bundesliga becomes the world’s first major football league to get back under way during the coronavirus pandemic this weekend.
It’s been some time in the planning – dubbed Operation Task Force – but we are ready to go.
As football returns, the onus is very much on Borussia Monchengladbach.
They are within six points of the champions, who they have already beaten this term, and in Yann Sommer and Marcus Thuram have some of the contenders for player of the season.
Monchengladbach, who also have a 21 year-old English attacking midfielder in Keanan Bennetts (signed for Spurs in January) in their ranks and waiting to make his debut, are quietly hopeful of continuing their charge for a top-four berth.
The 2-1 home defeat to Borussia Dortmund shortly before football was halted was a blow, but the Foals bounced back with a 2-1 victory over local rivals Cologne.
As well as talent, they also have one of the more innovative schemes across the football world in place by offering cardboard cut-outs to their supporters to make sure they are still supported in ‘person’ at home games.
It will be interesting to see if any make it to Frankfurt. Certainly, the Foals have allowed for fans of other teams to order a cut-out which will be placed in the away end at their own ground, Borussia Park.
This is because there will only be a total of 213 people allowed in the stadium – 98 around the pitch (including players, coaches, ball boys and photographers) and another 115 in the stands (including officials and media). There will be fewer than 100 other people allowed just outside the stadium for occupational reasons.
Eintracht Frankfurt players arrive at Commerzbank-Arena ahead of their match against Borussia Monchengladbach
Every Bundesliga team has been in quarantine, just going from a hotel to their training ground for the week leading up to these games, and players will be regularly tested for coronavirus.
On the pitch, handshakes are banned, there will be no team photos and there will be no child mascots.
It will certainly be an indicator of how things will operate if the final nine rounds of games are to be completed, as hoped, over the next six weeks with the aim of finishing the season before June 30.
As for Frankfurt, the break may have come at a good time for them.
They began 2020 in blistering form, earning 10 points from their first four Bundesliga outings, but Adi Hütter’s men then stumbled, losing to Dortmund, Union Berlin and Bayer Leverkusen in their three most recent league assignments.
That form contrasts sharply with results in cup competitions, where the Eagles have progressed to the semi-finals of the DFB Cup – probably their most likely route if they are to secure a third successive season of European football
Replacing the strike power of Luka Jovic, Sebastien Haller and Ante Rebic – who accounted for 41 of Frankfurt’s 60 Bundesliga goals last season – was always going to be tough.
The trio ensured Frankfurt were knocking at the door of the Champions League places right until the final day of 2018/19, and fired them all the way to the Europa League semi-finals.
Despite those departures, don’t think this will be an away banker though.
Although Frankfurt were a man to the good for almost 80 minutes, they thrashed Bayern Munich 5-1 at the Commerzbank-Arena earlier this term and can still turn on the style – undoubtedly one of the matches of the season unless you are a Bavarian.
The two Bundesliga giants share a long history and have shared the football pitch in professional matches 93 times since 1965.
The head-to-head score is pretty close.
Frankfurt currently hold the lead with their 35 wins. Monchengladbach are not that far behind with 32 triumphs, while the remaining 26 clashes were draws. You have to go back to 2015 for the last time Monchengladbach won in Frankfurt.
On that occasion, they ran out 5-1 winners, courtesy of goals from Raffael (two), André Hahn (two) and Mahmoud Dahoud.
Frankfurt have only recorded more wins against Werder Bremen (35) than they have in meetings with the Foals (34).
However, Borussia are unbeaten in their last three away games, taking seven points from a possible nine.
I’m going to opt for a few goals to mark football’s resumption.
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This message was edited by SBOBET on 21-May-2020 at 12:46 PM