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back Bundesliga | 18.01.2013 08:35:57

Outsiders in the frame for Europe

  • Will Eintracht Frankfurt coach Armin Veh be smiling so much come the end of the season?
  • If prolific midfielder Alexander Meier can keep his eye on the ball, the UEFA Champions League may not be beyond the Eagles
  • Freiburg coach Christian Streich (r.) is earning friends and fans up and down the country, but will he be forced to wear a suit and tie for European duty next season?
  • With such a strong team spirit and level of motivation and defiance, the UEFA Europa League could well be sticking a pin in the Black Forest in 2013/14
  • Mainz coach Thomas Tuchel has already had a taste of European football in 2011/12, but can his club qualify for the second time in three years?
  • If Adam Szalai can keep up his form from the first half of the season, then he may get to play a competive match in his home country of Hungary, in a Mainz shirt next season

Munich - The Bundesliga often springs a surprise and 2012/13 looks set to follow in that vein with three outsiders in the hunt for a place in Europe next season.

In 2011, Hannover 96 only narrowly missed out on a place in the Champions League, falling just a point short of beating FC Bayern Munich to third. Last season, few would have reckoned with Borussia Mönchengladbach sneaking into the top six after playing in a play-off for survival eight months earlier.

This time around, Gladbach qualifying for the Europa League would be less surprising, but who would have had their money on Eintracht Frankfurt, SC Freiburg or FSV Mainz 05 rubbing their shoulders with some of Europe's greats in 2013?

With half of the season gone, those three clubs are set to leave the more seasoned European campaigners such as VfB Stuttgart, Werder Bremen, Hamburger SV and Hannover 96 with a lighter workload in the 2013/14 season. Can they hold on to their place between now and May, though? bundesliga.com takes a look at their respective chances.

Eintracht Frankfurt


Kaiserslautern stunned the footballing world in 1998 when, straight after promotion from the Bundesliga 2, they won the Bundesliga title at the first attempt. Frankfurt can therefore look back on a positive precedent which can only fuel their optimism for continued success in 2013 after adjusting supremely to top-flight football so far this season. Granted, the title is probably beyond them, as it seems beyond everybody but Bayern this season, but a place among the top six is theirs for the taking, and why should the UEFA Europa League suffice when the UEFA Champions League is within their grasp?

Soaring Eagles


In Armin Veh, the Eagles have a coach who has already won the Bundesliga and, thus, knows how to deal with the pressure as it increases towards the end of the season. With prolific midfielder Alexander Meier in such a rich vein of form and young talents like Sebastian Jung and Pirmin Schwegler already picking up international calls, Frankfurt are no longer such a surprise package, but rather a confirmed reality who can justifiably aim for a top-four finish.

SC Freiburg


When Christian Streich took charge of Freiburg, reluctantly too out of fear of doing unwanted harm to his much-loved club, there appeared to be no future in the top flight for the Black Forest minnows. Think again. The charismatic coach, who has earned fans, praise and acclaim from all corners of Germany, turned Freiburg into the seventh-best team in the second half of last season, and at the midway stage of the current campaign, they are lying fifth.

Motivation which moves mountains


If ever there were an example of how team spirit and motivation can succeed over individual talent and superstar status, it can be found in Freiburg. A team without any major household names, and with players plucked out of the youth side Streich was leading before literally hopping on his bike to take charge of the first team, manages to upset the applecart week in week out, and there is little to suggest 2013 is going to be any different as Streich creates a lasting legacy which could well convey his charisma to a wider audience - Europe-wide.

Mainz 05


Mainz are no strangers to the UEFA Europa League, having qualified just under two years ago, but what seemed to be a one-hit wonder back then could instead prove to be the start of something big. Unsurprisingly, Thomas Tuchel’s name was one of those being linked with Bayern Munich before Pep Guardiola was appointed to replace the retiring Jupp Heynckes, such is the reputation he has built for himself in little over three years at the helm of a club who, until 2004, had never appeared in the top flight of German football.

Successful redevelopment


Despite losing big names such as Andre Schürrle and Lewis Holtby, Tuchel has managed to redefine his side with an array of unconventional yet effective coaching tricks. Adam Szalai has hit top form and Jan Kirchhoff’s transfer to Bayern next season confirms that Tuchel is doing something right. So can they step onto the European stage for the second time in three seasons? Well, they do now have a home fit for European football and, similar to Freiburg, a soaring team spirit which ensures they are up for every game, no matter who the opponents.

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