Frankfurt go into the match having won in Azerbaijan on Thursday night in the UEFA Europa League play-offs, beating Qarabag FK 2-0, but Braunschweig have had no such distraction following defeats to Werder Bremen and Borussia Dortmund.
Injection of class
The Lions' spirited performances in their first campaign back in the top flight for 28 years cannot disguise the fact they are still to register a single point. Coach Torsten Lieberknecht was pragmatic about the situation stating that “the praise for the performances was deserved”, but the 40-year-old also added that “it’s time to put 110 percent in in all areas to try and put some points on the board”.
Spirit in some cases cannot hide a lack of quality, something Lieberknecht has sort to rectify by bringing back fan favourite Karim Bellarabi on loan for his second spell in Saxony. The 23-year-old winger is in the frame to start on Sunday, with Marco Caligiuri a candidate to make way after last week’s 2-1 reverse in Dortmund.
According to Lieberknecht, the Bellarabi coup provides “more options within the squad." The players came away from last Sunday’s 2-1 loss to the Champions League finalists unscathed, and have been “working all week on the system in an effort to open our Bundesliga account”.
Lieberknecht wouldn’t be drawn on the make-up of his starting eleven, but apart from Bellarabi’s potential start, there are likely to be few changes to the 4-1-4-1 system which has been resilient but ultimately ineffective so far this season.
Spirit was also the order of the day for Frankfurt this week on their Azerbaijani adventure as they all but booked their place in the group stages of the Europa League. Confidence somewhat restored, Veh is nevertheless expecting a much sterner test against Braunschweig. “Braunschweig played very well against Dortmund, and we know ourselves how difficult it is to play against motivated new sides in the league," he warned.
The coach also reserved praise for Thursday’s hero Alexander Meier, whose two goals shot his side to victory in Europe. “Alex is always capable of making the difference - he’s getting better year-on-year,” beamed Veh. The squad returned tired, but raring to, with Sebastian Jung (strained muscle) the only absentee. New Czech forward Vaclav Kadlec “could certainly play,” Veh explained, otherwise keeping his true intentions very close to his chest indeed.
Eintracht Braunschweig: Davari – Elabdellauoi, Bicakcic, Correia, Reichel – Theuerkauf – Bellarabi, Kratz, Kruppke, Hochscheidt – Jackson
Eintracht Frankfurt: Trapp - Schröck, Zambrano, Anderson, Oczipka – Rode – Aigner, Flum – Meier –Rosenthal, Lakic