After three long decades, Eintracht's trophy drought is over
It had been three decades – 1988, to be precise – since Eintracht Frankfurt last lifted a major trophy. The years were beginning to become a burden, but on Saturday night in Berlin, the Eagles outfought and out-thought overwhelming favourites Bayern Munich to win the DFB Cup final 3-1, ending that trophy drought in memorable style.
Hours after the full-time whistle – which had sparked scenes of delirium in the Frankfurt end – the Eintracht fans continued to sing, dance and take selfies inside the Olympiastadion, soaking up the moment. Over 20,000 Frankfurt supporters were fortunate enough to be in attendance, and every last one ended the evening with tears in their eyes, pinching themselves. It was, after all, an evening for the history books; it was an evening that ended the club's decades-long wait for a major trophy and spectacularly rewarded years of hard work behind the scenes.
A tactical masterclass
If there was one single high point – and there were plenty on the night – then it was the sight of departing coach Niko Kovac, overcome by emotion, raising the DFB Cup in front of the Olympiastadion's East Stand, packed with Frankfurt fans. "I would just like to thank everyone," he said. "My coaching team, the players, the fans: this is the culmination of two great years with Eintracht Frankfurt. I have a lot to thank the club for."
Kovac produced a tactical masterclass in his hometown, his novel set-up causing Bayern no end of problems. The objective was to pack the midfield – explaining the decision to field Makoto Hasebe, Jonathan de Guzman and Omar Mascarell. That in turn forced Bayern wide, where Marius Wolf and Ante Rebic tracked back like men possessed in order to help their full-backs.
Rebic's night to remember
If Kovac got his tactical theory right, then another Croatian, Rebic, made sure the practical application was equally expert. The forward took his two chances clinically, his efforts made all the more impressive by the fact that he only returned from six weeks out with a muscle tear in last weekend's 1-0 defeat at FC Schalke 04.
Fast forward a week, and Rebic was everywhere, most importantly in the right place at the right time to score the first and second goals. The second, which arrived in the 82nd minute, was an outstanding effort, the 24-year-old bursting past Mats Hummels and then lifting a cute finish over the onrushing Sven Ulreich.
Rebic's man-of-the-match performance not only earned him a place in the Eintracht history books, but also secured the club a spot in next season's UEFA Europa League group stages. That's all to come, though. In the meantime, you can stop pinching yoursel