Veteran Eintracht Frankfurt forward Alexander Meier has seen some top strikers in his time, and it would appear FC Bayern München duo Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Müller are right up there with the best of them.
In an exclusive interview with bundesliga.com ahead of Friday’s showdown with the champions, the 32-year-old discusses Eintracht’s hot and cold form, reveals how he feels about facing the unbeaten Bundesliga leaders and sings the praises of two of world football's most in-form marksmen.
bundesliga.com: Alex Meier, the fans wrote Eintracht an open letter following the 5-1 home defeat to Borussia Mönchengladbach on Matchday 9. Has that been talked about within the team?
Alex Meier: I only heard about that later. Every player has a different way of coping with a heavy defeat. Obviously the fans have the right to voice their opinion, and their disappointment was completely understandable. We know ourselves that we didn’t play well, especially in Ingolstadt [on Matchday 8].
bundesliga.com: It’s hard to know what to expect from Frankfurt this season. Big performances like the 6-2 win over Köln and determined displays like last weekend’s 2-1 win against Hannover are offset by anaemic showings like in the 2-0 defeat at Ingolstadt.
Meier: I think the game in Ingolstadt was really bad. Our approach on the day was really poor and was rightly criticised. Even now I still don’t know what was up with us. The games beforehand against Hamburg, Schalke and Berlin weren’t too bad. It’s just we dropped points. No one can blame us for the way we played in those games. You saw in Hanover how the team dealt with falling behind.
bundesliga.com: The changeable performances are baffling given how well the new players have integrated. Luc Castaignos, Lukas Hradecky, David Abraham and Stefan Reinartz: their statistics are all pretty decent.
Meier: The stats are one thing, but what matters most is that everything comes together on the pitch. There’s no question we’ve brought in some good players and we’ve already shown we can play well together. You always have spells like we’ve had in the last few weeks over the course of a season. For the most part, it’s difficult to find the right explanation for it. It’s just how it is for a few games.
bundesliga.com: Eintracht were trailing at half time against Hannover. A defeat would have meant a sixth game in a row without a win. At the time, did you have any worries that the season could turn into a relegation battle?
Meier: What’s this about ‘worries’? When you’re only four or five points off the relegation places, that is a relegation battle. You always have to be wary for sure. No one should turn a blind eye to it. Right now there’s no reason to be talking about any other objectives.
bundesliga.com: Armin Veh changed from a 4-4-2 to a 4-2-3-1 formation against Hannover…
Meier: The coach has been around for long enough and knows exactly what needs to be done. The Hannover game proved that. I’m certain that he’ll continue to put the right measures in place.
bundesliga.com: That’ll also be necessary this weekend against FC Bayern. Are games against Bayern rewarding challenges, even though everyone expects to lose?
Meier: On the one hand, the Bayern game is just another game like the rest, so I don’t have any particular feelings about it. On the other hand, it’s the toughest task of the season because Bayern are the best team around.
bundesliga.com: Nevertheless, isn’t a top player such as yourself looking forward to such a showdown?
Meier: I look forward to every game and to facing every opponent in equal measure.
bundesliga.com: Is it not tempting to just stand and watch Bayern strut their stuff?
Meier: Perhaps not sit back and watch, but certainly admire the level of football they play. They’re the best team in Germany, maybe even in the world. There’s a certain respect and admiration for their accomplishments.
bundesliga.com: As a striker yourself, Robert Lewandowski must be to your liking?
Meier: Lewandowski is world-class, everyone there is world-class. I really like Thomas Müller. Admittedly I don’t know him as a person, but I like how laid back he is, in interviews for example. And as a footballer and a striker because he’s always scoring and providing assists. Müller is just an outstanding footballer.
bundesliga.com: There’s a line of experts that would say the same about you and that are once again talking about you in terms of the national team.
Meier: I’d argue that that’s not on the agenda for me. Nothing will change on that front.
Interview by Andreas Kötter