The penultimate home game of the season against Mainz 05 could be the last chance for Eintracht to qualify for an international starting place via the Bundesliga. Should Mainz, as the current eighth, win the Rhine-Main duel against the ninth-placed team this Saturday (15.30 CET in the F.A.Z. live ticker for the Bundesliga and on Sky), they would already have a five-point lead over Frankfurt with two matchdays to go. In the case of Wolfsburg (seventh place), it would even be six if they were to defeat Hoffenheim at home. And sixth-placed Bayer Leverkusen could no longer be overtaken by Eintracht in the standings in the event of a success in Stuttgart.
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On the home stretch, Frankfurt is in a tight spot and should beat Mainz in terms of their own demands. In the event of a failure, on the other hand, the "trip to Europe", of which coach Oliver Glasner spoke, would probably be blocked for Eintracht, at least via the Bundesliga competition. The only way out would be the cup final on June 3 in Berlin, where the Hessians would reach the Europa League as winners against Leipzig. The third in the first division and defending champion from Saxony will certainly not give Eintracht a free pass.
Before the clash with Mainz, which Glasner has located as an "enormously important game", the Frankfurt route planner has this path in mind in the direction of Europe: With a success over the team of his coach colleague Bo Svensson, Frankfurt would displace Mainz from eighth place in the table. At least seventh place could then be within reach again, "we would be closer to the European places again," says Glasner. From Hesse's point of view, a victory would even be doubly nice: it would be the first since February 18 of this year. In the balance of the horror there are now ten games without a sense of achievement. This made the insecure team tense up more and more in everyday league life.
National player Bella-Kotchap probably a candidate
However, Glasner tries to see the current situation from the positive side. "We're still unbeaten at home in the 2023 league." And: Mainz are one of the best teams in the second half of the season, but recently they have lost twice and conceded three goals each.
Speaking of conceding goals: The average in this category is almost 1.5 on the Frankfurt side. Not having gotten a grip on the defensive problems worries him, Glasner admitted. "Because I've done it with all my clubs. That's Glasner level," said the coach. In his search for reinforcements for the coming season, the defender and German international Armel Bella-Kotchap from Southampton FC is said to have aroused the interest of the Hessians.
The 48-year-old Glasner has had turbulent working days with a few serious negative experiences. The biggest setback for him may have been that he and Eintracht did not find common ground to continue their cooperation beyond this round in a spirit of trust. The assessment of the squad strength, the focus on player development and the form of the coach's external presentation were too different. In the future, Glasner is no longer an asset to Eintracht, was the club's sober assessment. One year before the end of the contract, the contracting parties will go their separate ways in the summer.
Glasner will be cut off from his field of work in the home game against Mainz. His red card in Hoffenheim resulted in him being banned from playing at the Waldstadion. While his assistant coach Michael Angerschmid will be in charge in the coaching zone this time, Glasner will be up in a box. Half an hour before and after the match, he is not allowed to have any contact with the team. Glasner announced that he would strictly adhere to this, after all, he had "made a few construction sites. And I'm not going to open another one."
This time, the coach will watch from a distance as his players approach implementing the matchday motto. "We want to turn the momentum around," says Glasner, with his sights firmly set on the "exit to Europe". True to the direction of travel, Frankfurt has a clear path to an international competition. Before that, however, the professionals must get rid of their mental block.