Enthusiastic fans and plenty of promise
A 2-1 defeat to Hertha BSC in St. Petersburg may not have been the desired outcome of the Bundesliga Exhibition Match that served as the curtain-raiser to the Florida Cup, but it was of secondary importance to the numerous Eintracht Frankfurt fans in attendance.
After nine training sessions in Florida and just 10 days before the start of the second half of the Bundesliga season away to TSG Hoffenheim, the fixture against Hertha served as the first and only game for the Eagles during the winter break. The two teams had met just 34 days previously, drawing 2-2 at the Commerzbank-Arena. This time, Alexander Esswein got the goals for Hertha, with Timothy Chandler on the scoresheet for Adi Hütter’s charges.
Personnel: Trapp returns in new formation
Kevin Trapp made his comeback from injury in a side that Hütter set up in a 4-2-3-1 formation throughout the 90 minutes. Gelson Fernandes missed out after his return to Germany with injury, while Andre Silva, Sahverdi Cetin, Jan Zimmermann (muscular complaints) and Nils Stendera (groin) were also sidelined.
First half: Eintracht stable
The Eagles set out to rediscover the compactness that had been lacking in recent games, and can be satisfied with a first half they largely dominated. Hertha allowed Eintracht to take control of the game and waited to pounce on the counter, but Trapp was only called into action once early on, denying Pascal Köpke with a strong save. Hütter’s men had the better of the chances, each causing the volume to increase among the more than 4,500 spectators at the stadium. Bas Dost went close following Danny da Costa’s quickly taken throw-in, firing wide with a left-footed shot, while Djibril Sow had an effort blocked after a neat one-two with Evan Ndicka just before the break.
Second half: Chandler on target
Paciencia, Trapp, Ndicka and da Costa were the only players to remain on the pitch after the interval as Hütter made wholesale changes. Chances were few and far between initially until Hertha midfielder Esswein cut in from the right and drilled the opener in at the near post in the 71st minute. Eintracht replied instantly, with Chandler poking in from Almamy Toure’s cross, but Esswein secured a 2-1 win for Hertha when he converted what looked like a dubious penalty 12 minutes from time.
Summary: Plenty of promise
The Eagles will be aware that there is a great deal of hard work still ahead of them, but there was nevertheless an overriding feeling of satisfaction at the final whistle given the promise shown in the new formation, as well as the celebratory atmosphere among the numerous Eintracht fans in attendance.
Trapp - da Costa, Abraham (Hasebe 46’), Hinteregger (Durm 46’), Ndicka - Sow (Kohr 46’), Rode (de Guzman 46’) - Gacinovic (Toure 46’), Kamada (Paciencia 37’), Kostic (Chandler 46’) - Dost (Joveljic 46’)
0-1 Esswein (71’) 1-1 Chandler (73’) 1-2 Esswein (pen. 78’)