Eintracht Frankfurt kick off the second half of their league campaign at home to SC Freiburg on Saturday. The Matchday 18 clash at the Commerzbank-Arena has all the ingredients for a close encounter.

Frankfurt have faced Freiburg 27 times in the Bundesliga, winning 11, losing 12 and scoring just as many goals as they have conceded (34). There was no separating the two teams on the opening day of the 2017/18 campaign, when a dominant Eintracht side were forced to settle for a goalless draw at the Schwarzwald-Station. Freiburg’s Tim Kleindienst had a goal disallowed by the Video Assistant Referee in the 17th minute - the first ever goal to be chalked off by the VAR in the Bundesliga.

No home draws against Freiburg

Eintracht and Freiburg have traded wins in their past six meetings at the Commerzbank-Arena, with Christian Streich’s charges emerging 2-1 victors on their last visit in March 2017. Recent history, therefore, points to a home win on Saturday. Furthermore, none of the 13 top-flight games between the two teams in Frankfurt have ended in a draw - the longest such streak in Bundesliga history.

Niko Kovac’s troops will be eager to build on their impressive first half of the campaign on Matchday 18. The Eagles are eighth in the table on 26 points, 11 points ahead of the relegation play-off position and just two behind the UEFA Champions League places. Kovac’s side are built on a strong defence that conceded just 18 times before Christmas - only league leaders Bayern München let in fewer goals. Eintracht have also yet to concede more than two goals in a single game this term.

Formidable defence

Some more favourable statistics on the Eintracht defence: no other team have conceded fewer clear-cut chances this season (14). None of the 18 goals Kovac’s side have shipped so far in 2017/18 have resulted from individual errors, while they’ve conceded the lowest number of goals from set-pieces (five). The Eagles have also yet to concede a penalty this season.

On Saturday, Frankfurt take on a side that ended the first half of the campaign strongly. Freiburg are unbeaten in their last five league games (3W, 2D) - their longest run without defeat in four years. Indeed, only Bayern collected more points than Streich’s team over that same period. They have not been quite as impressive away from home, however, conceding 25 goals compared to just six on home soil. In seven of their eight away games this term, Freiburg have conceded at least three goals.

Quartet face former employers

The Eagles will go face to face with fit-again Marc-Oliver Kempf, whose first five Bundesliga appearances came in Frankfurt colours. Freiburg’s back-up goalkeeper Patric Klandt was born in Frankfurt and represented Eintracht’s reserves between 2000 and 2004, while right-back Alexander Ignjovski made 38 Bundesliga appearances for SGE between 2014 and 2016.

Gelson Fernandes, meanwhile, clocked up 30 league outings for Freiburg during the 2013/14 campaign. The Swiss midfielder also netted his only Bundesliga goal for the Black Forest club, scoring the winner against Eintracht Braunschweig in November 2013.

Match info

Kick-off: Saturday 13 January, 15:30 CET, Matchday 18 of the 2017/18 season
Venue: Commerzbank-Arena, Frankfurt