Frankfurt - The Eintracht Frankfurt faithful know all about barren spells. Two years ago, the Eagles tasted victory just once during the second half of the season as they spiralled towards relegation. Now, though, they're back in the big time and riding the crest of the wave.
Armin Veh's charges did it the hard way in front of 50,000 enraptured fans on Sunday, hitting back from a goal down to sink SC Freiburg and take their tally to 16 points from six games. That leaves them just two down on league leaders Bayern Munich, but captain Pirmin Schwiegler is keeping it all well in perspective, noting after that game that, "We know where we've come from."
Eintracht found it tough against an exceptionally well-organised Freiburg side, who took the lead through Max Kruse in the 50th minute. The contest truly sprang to life in the 66th minute, Takashi Inui having a goal ruled out for offside before Alexander Meier equalised to swing the pendulum in the home side's favour.
Just as in the 3-3 draw with Dortmund on Matchday 5, Eintracht had their tails up after a slow start, ending the contest firmly on top and this time with all three points thanks to Meier's coolly-taken brace. To round out a frustrating occasion for Freiburg, Karim Guede also saw red in stoppage time as the locals celebrated their fifth Bundesliga win of the season.
"Knew he was a good player"
Bastian Oczipka set up both goals, his second a beautifully-weighted corner glanced home by the imperious Meier. Even Freiburg coach Christian Streich singled out the Frankfurt striker's clinical display afterwards. "It was about Meier's superb individual class. We couldn't defend against that", Streich said. "Those were two class efforts from Alex", added team-mate Sebastian Rode.
Meier now has four goals in six Bundesliga games this season, with Eintracht coach Veh joining his Freiburg counterpart in praise for the man he once tried to sign at VfB Stuttgart. "I already knew he was a good player", said Veh. Meier, meanwhile, is taking the praise in his stride. "It doesn't matter who steps into the breach, as long as we win", said the Buchholz-born forward.
"Glad to take a breather"
What really impressed the coach, though, was the manner in which his side turned the game on its head. "We never gave up and it's hard to read us because someone different is always scoring", beamed Veh, for whom a victory over against a direct rival was "maybe even better" than coming back from 2-0 down to draw against Dortmund.
Despite their current position, hot on the heels of Bayern, the Eagles' season goal remains unchanged, namely avoiding relegation. "We're realistic enough to know we're not going to blow everyone away at home", said rejuvenated captain Pirmin Schwegler. "Willpower got us through today. We've had to go hell for leather in our last three games. Now we're glad to be able to take a breather. We've got two days now where we don't have to be thinking of our next game, against Gladbach", he added.
It's a sensible attitude from the Eintracht skipper, whose team-mates know all too well how quickly success can turn to failure - hero of the hour Meier being one of those to drop through the dreaded Bundesliga 2 trapdoor the season before last.