Eintracht Frankfurt vs. RB Leipzig: how do they stack up?
Having both hoisted silverware following impressive, respective campaigns last season, Eintracht Frankfurt and RB Leipzig meet on Saturday for one of the Bundesliga weekend's most anticipated games. bundesliga.com runs the rule over the key elements of a game that is set to be big on entertainment.
Neither Die Adler nor Die Roten Bullen have started the top-flight campaign in a manner they would have liked. With identical points hauls (5) so far, Oliver Glasner's side and Domenico Tedesco's visitors have both won just once and drawn two of their opening four fixtures in Germany's top division.
With this weekend representing the start of an immensely busy period on domestic and European fronts for the Bundesliga and UEFA Champions League challengers, however, both tacticians will be wary of just how important picking up all three points in this fixture will be in terms of morale. bundesliga.com assesses the possible key components of a crucial encounter.
Watch: There was drama aplenty the last time Leipzig visited Frankfurt
Glasner vs. Tedesco
It all starts on the benches. Saturday's coaches at Deutsche Bank Park are shrewd and experienced dugout schemers whose respective tactics will be crucial to this match-up, just as they were when trophies landed to delirious celebrations last term. Eintracht triumphed in the Europa League while Leipzig lifted the DFB Cup as both teams danced to their overseers' tunes. The coaches are therefore wary of what either side can bring to a packed Waldstadion on Saturday evening.
"They have a lot of pace, a lot of link-up players and power out wide," Glasner said when describing the Eagles' opponents. "They’re very versatile and they’ve got an incredible squad with players like Christopher Nkunku, Timo Werner and Dani Olmo," the 48-year-old continued. "We need a top performance in every area if we're to come away as winners."
Tedesco, meanwhile, is wary that Leipzig, "have never won at Eintracht Frankfurt." In seven away meetings, the locals have won three times and there have been four draws. "It's definitely not going to be an easy task for us; Eintracht didn't win the Europa League for nothing," Leipzig's tactician added. "They have a top starting XI and a lot of players on the bench with a lot of speed."
Expect pace to play a crucial role in the sides' latest encounter, then, Glasner's 4-2-3-1 set up for rapid transitions and quick progression of the ball between the lines. Tedesco's side will try to thwart the home threat, springing swift counters that utilise the pace of a fearsome front two.
Both 'keepers are in for a very busy evening in Mainhatten and will have been intensely preparing for this fixture as the game edges ever nearer. Gulacsi is one of only two Leipzig players (the other being Yussuf Poulsen), to have played all previous 12 games between these sides and the Hungarian looks set to return between the posts having been sidelined for his team's last two Bundesliga games with a muscle injury.
What better fillip for the visitors than to have their captain in goals again, especially in the face of one of the Bundesliga's most in-form forwards, Eintracht's Randal Kolo Muani. Gulacsi kept 15 clean sheets in 49 games in all competitions as Leipzig won the DFB Cup, reached the Europa League semis and surged to a place in the Bundesliga's top four last term.
At the opposite end of the field, Trapp is just as iconic and influential. Ever-present for Die Adler so far this term, the 32-year-old has pulled off 10 saves in Eintracht's four games and will need to be at his towering best with Nkunku and Timo in town.
"I experienced unforgettable things here with Frankfurt and we made history together," the shot-stopper recently posted on his Instagram as he committed to the Eagles following an offer from Manchester United. "The start of the season was bumpy, but I have absolute trust in us," the Europa League winner added.
Mario Götze vs. Dani Olmo
Whoever comes out on top in the battle to become the game's key creator will surely win the day for his team. Both players have the patience and vision to thread the tightest of spaces and throw defences onto the back foot in an instant. Olmo is ahead of Bundesliga returnee Götze on the stats front in 2022/23, the Spain international with a goal, two assists and nine shots at the target compared to his attacking midfield counterpart's one goal so far this season.
Yet as the 2014 FIFA World Cup winning goalscorer for Germany is a player who can boast 58 goals and 61 assists in a career-long 235 Bundesliga appearances, a crucial moment of magic is never far away from Götze's feet and he will need to be closely watched by Leipzig.
Watch: Bundesliga specialist - Mario Götze
Kolo Muani vs. Nkunku and Werner
Just one Eintracht high flyer against two of the Bundesliga's big hitters: which side would you be on? Kolo Muani has been an outstanding addition to Frankfurt's squad since his summer arrival from Nantes, with two goals and two assists in his four league appearances so far.
A goalscoring debut against Bayern Munich - albeit in a heavy defeat - had the former France Under-21 international up and running and he was on target again in last week's dramatic 4-3 win against Werder Bremen, Eintracht's first victory after 11 Bundesliga games without a win.
Up front for Leipzig, an ominous rumbling emerged during the midweek DFB Cup triumph with 'Turbo' Werner netting a hat-trick in an 8-0 win against Teutonia 05. Although Werner made a goal-scoring return with the Saxony-based side following his move from Chelsea, he has needed time to fully reacquaint himself back into his former surroundings, just one shot on target in three appearances hinting at a step-by-step return.
Watch: Nkunku - 2021/22 Bundesliga Player of the Season
Conversely, Nkunku has picked up where he left off after his Bundesliga Player of the Season campaign last time out. The France ace has managed seven shots on target of the 15 efforts at goal that have left his boot.
That he has scored four times in four Bundesliga games bodes well for one more top campaign at Leipzig. Whether Nkunku and Werner can best Kolo Muani remains one of the many intriguing aspects of a Saturday evening game that will undoubtedly be filled with plenty of thrills and spills.
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