Frankfurt - Armin Veh insisted the 2-1 victory over 1899 Hoffenheim had brought three more points in the effort of avoiding relegation. Yet Eintracht Frankfurt and demotion to the second tier is an association that fewer and fewer observers are making after the Eagles' 10th win of the campaign. A far more likely achievement, it seems, is European qualification.
Veh: "Tight league"
Saturday's win allowed fourth-placed Frankfurt to establish a 20-point gap between themselves and the relegation play-off place, an outstanding achievement for the newly-promoted club. Central midfielder and Germany U-21 international Sebastian Rode was one of many after the match to express that the Eagles are aiming high in what remains of the season: "We want to establish ourselves at the top," the 22-year-old said.
However confident the 22-year-old felt, however, it wasn't a view shared by his cautious head coach Veh, who underlined that consolidation was the key. "In this tight league, you can easily lose four, five games in a row," the experienced 51-year-old said. And he wasn't wrong. Despite prevailing against 17-placed Hoffenheim, Frankfurt didn't have things all their own way and Marco Kurz's side even looked on top at various points in the game.
"We needed a bit of luck to win," admitted Eintracht keeper Kevin Trapp, who preserved his side's lead with some smart saves, although he could do nothing to keep out Kevin Volland's excellent back-heel that levelled things at 1-1. A more confident side than Hoffenheim might well have made more of their scoring opportunities and Veh's side looked vulnerable after a comprehensive defeat to Bayer 04 Leverkusen on Matchday 18, hence Veh's relieved admission at the full-time whistle that "I'm just happy that the whole team fought so hard against an opponent that should be higher in the league than they are."
2010/11 repeat unlikely
Frankfurt's reaction to the equaliser was further evidence of a young side maturing with each passing game, as Stefan Aigner's winning goal came within just two minutes of 1899's equaliser. It was a reaction that one might not have expected from the team two seasons ago, when the Eagles were relegated despite taking 26 points in the first half of the campaign. The current squad, on the other hand, appears to have quality and fight in abundance, even shouldering the absence of key players Sebastian Jung and captain Pirmin Schwegler, who made a late cameo appearance after illness.
If the Eagles can maintain their impressive form, their accumulated points tally at the season's end may even be enough to bring European qualification. Indeed, as much as the club may refrain from mentioning it, one senses that that is their aim, particularly after the news that a new striker will be added to the squad shortly. "We will have another forward by Thursday," said sporting director Bruno Hübner. Their assault on the European places seems to be taking shape.