Munich - European ambitions are the common denominator when Eintracht Frankfurt meet Borussia Mönchengladbach on Friday (kick-off 20:30 CET) in Matchday 24's opening fixture.
Both side's have influential figures available for selection following suspension, with Japanese mischief-maker back for the hosts, while wing-back-turned-forward returns for Gladbach as the guests look to get their quest for a UEFA Europa League spot back on track.
Herrmann spent much of last season marauding down the right as part of Lucien Favre’s cunning counter-attacking creation, but the sale of Marco Reus to Borussia Dortmund last summer has seen the 22-year-old move further up the field.
The shift has resulted in six goals this season - one more than and double the haul of striker - while he has provided five assists too. Herrmann's importance to the side, just three points adrift of the top six, is unmistakable. “We always want to play in Europe, and to do so again next season would be great,” he said following his side’s recent elimination to S.S. Lazio.
Keeping in the hunt
That defeat in Rome marked the emergence of another talent, , who underlined his ability with a stunning goal to earn the Foals a 1-1 draw against Borussia Dortmund last weekend. With the prospect of Younes and Herrmann flanking Arango and de Jong in an attack-minded 4-2-4 formation in Frankfurt, it is clear that the Foals mean business.
“The point against a top European club in Dortmund was good for our self-esteem,” said Thorben Marx on his club’s website. “The league’s still very tight and we’ve got to fight until the end, but we’re ready for it. We want to be in a good position for the final games when it really gets down to the nitty-gritty, and every point is important.”
Frankfurt have followed a similar philosophy in their search of the magic 40-point mark, traditionally enough to guarantee safety, and are now just two points off that hallowed figure. However, there is much more to Friday night’s game than merely reaching a numerical milestone.
“If we win, we’ll have a ten-point cushion over Gladbach,” said captain Pirmin Schwegler, suggesting German football's surprise package are not purely thinking about avoiding relegation this season. At the very least, the rest of the Bundesliga has long since discarded them as relegation candidates. “The way people consider us in the Bundesliga has changed,” said their coach Armin Veh to the Bild newspaper. “We’re no longer the newcomers."
Frankfurt: Trapp - Jung, Zambrano, Anderson, Oczipka - Schwegler, Rode - Aigner, Meier, Inui - Lakic
Gladbach: ter Stegen - Jantschke, Stranzl, Alvaro Dominguez, Wendt - Nordtveit, Marx - Herrmann, Arango, de Jong, Younes