Srdjan Lakic (r.) proved he still has a keen eye for goal by bagging a brace in Hamburg
Srdjan Lakic (r.) proved he still has a keen eye for goal by bagging a brace in Hamburg

Forgotten man finds his way in Frankfurt

Hamburg - After 25 games and 1,083 minutes without a goal for both VfL Wolfsburg and 1899 Hoffenheim, Croatian striker finally saw his name in lights again as he netted a brace on a dream debut in Eintracht Frankfurt's 2-0 win against Hamburger SV.

Muscles flexed

"I always believed in myself and my capabilities," declared Frankfurt's matchwinner, whose undeniable impact in the lone striker role affirmed the shrewd nature of Eintracht's decision to sign him during the winter transfer window. "I dreamt of such an experience. I'm just happy that we won against Hamburg thanks to my two goals."

Lakic's prowess as a goalscorer is far from unknown in German footballing circles. Following a spell at Hertha BSC Berlin, the Croatian first made a name for himself with 1. FC Kaiserslautern. After firing the Red Devils back into the Bundesliga in 2010, the target man's 16 goals the following season saw Lautern finish in seventh, prompting interest from bigger clubs around the Bundesliga.

Wolfsburg secured his coveted signature, but despite being denied regular playing time subsequently, Lakic's confidence in front of goal has never waned. "After such a long period of not scoring goals it's hard to demonstrate that kind of self-belief," explained the 29-year-old, whose strikes weren't the only flashback to his time as a Red Devil. "[Flexing my bicep] is my old goal celebration from back in my Kaiserslautern days. A lot of people have forgotten that because I haven't scored in so long!"

Rocky road

It took just 36 minutes for Lakic to prove his worth, getting on the end of two Stefan Aigner deliveries to put Frankfurt in the driving seat last Saturday, showing the type of sharpness not normally associated with a striker short of match practice. "That's just football," Lakic said of his difficult stints at Wolfsburg and Hoffenheim. "You're missing that little bit of confidence. At Eintracht though, everything's worked perfectly right from the start. I'm delighted that I'm now a part of this team."

The decision to join the Eagels was not a difficult one. "[Armin] Veh put his confidence in me and gave me the feeling that I was welcome in Franfkurt," Lakic continued, before issuing a warning to Bundesliga defenders everywhere. "I'm still nowhere near where I want to be, but I'll continue to work hard and try and help Eintracht reach their targets with the goals I score."

Sharing the load

While Frankfurt are riding the crest of a wave in fourth and have a goal tally bettered only by the top two, they have not used one out-and-out striker consistently all season. Olivier Occean hasn't found the net in 691 minutes, while Karim Matmour and Erwin Hoffer have failed to impress in their fleeting appearances. Alexander Meier's blistering goalscoring form has fired them upwards, but Veh is evidently keen to share the weight of attacking responsibility around.

In that respect, Lakic appears to be the perfect foil, offering an aerial threat to rival the best in the league. The Eagles have scored just ten goals from 283 crosses this season, but netted twice from eight against Hamburg thanks to Lakic's presence in the box. With the likes of Aigner and Bastian Oczipka more than capable of pinpoint crosses, this could be a lethal weapon for Eintracht to exploit in their pursuit of a European spot. Not that the striker is thinking that far ahead just yet: "In football everything moves really quickly. Our priority is to first reach the 40-point mark. Then we'll see what happens."

James Thorogood