- Frankfurt occupy fourth spot in the table.
- Eagles only just escaped relegation last term.
- Coach Kovac believes Vallejo can be "as good as he wants to be".
At the halfway point of the 2016/17 Bundesliga season, it is time for bundesliga.com to dissect the campaigns of each club so far.
Here we take a look at Eintracht Frankfurt...
Story so far
Escaping relegation via the play-off in 2015/16, Eintracht seized on that reprieve by freshening up the squad and getting fully behind the ideas of head coach Niko Kovac. Branimir Hrgota’s arrival from Borussia Mönchengladbach has given veteran striker Alexander Meier some much-needed assistance in attack, while Omar Mascarell, Jesus Vallejo (on loan from Real Madrid CF) and Michael Hector (on loan from Chelsea FC) have made the Eagles a far tougher defensive nut to crack. They currently , having won eight of 16 matches, losing only three, and conceding just 12 goals. Having set a new club record by taking 29 points from their first 16 games for the first time since the introduction of the three-points-for-a-win rule in 1995-96, Kovac’s team are well placed to record a first top-six finish since 2012/13.
Watch: Eagles ready for take-off:
Star player: Jesus Vallejo
The presence of 19-year-old Vallejo in the side has been a key factor in Frankfurt’s concession of just 12 goals. He has started 16 of 18 competitive matches and not missed a single minute of league action since coming on as a seventh-minute substitute against SV Darmstadt 98 on Matchday 2. “The lad is crazy good. Honestly, I really have to describe him in superlatives,” says Kovac. “Jesus is so calm. It's the sort of calmness and maturity you usually only have when you're about 30. He can be as good as he wants to be."
Honourable mention: Marco Fabian
Fabian only played in three of the last nine league games under Kovac in 2015/16 and started on the bench for the relegation play-off games, but his apparent hard work in training has helped him force his way back into the coach’s plans. This term Fabian has not been substituted once, playing all 90 minutes in each of his 13 league appearances, providing four assists and scoring three goals to boot. That two of his goals earned a win over Bayer 04 Leverkusen and a draw against FC Bayern München further underline his valuable contribution this season.
Watch: Fabian outshone Chicharito as Frankfurt defeated Leverkusen on Matchday 3.
- Only Bayern, RB Leipzig and Hertha Berlin have recorded more wins that Frankfurt's eight.
- Hrgota notched three goals in three games in December, having not previously scored a league goal since February 2015.
- Goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky has kept seven clean sheets, second only to Manuel Neuer (eight).