1. Eintracht enduring hard times
With only one win in their last eleven Bundesliga fixtures, player confidence at less than zero and their top striker, Alex Meier immobilised by a faulty knee, Eintracht Frankfurt’s hopes of retaining a foothold in the top-flight look as threadbare as their form.
Their 2-0 home loss to Hoffenheim on Saturday – a relegation ‘six-pointer if ever there was one – left the Eagles waist-deep in the relegation quicksand and it has to be said that nothing of substance has changed since coach Armin Veh was fired a few weeks ago and replaced by ex-Croatia boss, Niko Kovac. The same old story of despair: the unforced errors, the lack of front-line punch when Meier is not around, the lack of purpose.
“These are hard times,” said Eintracht chairman, Heribert Bruchhagen.
“We realise how difficult it’s going to be and can all read the table. But it makes no sense to hypothesize. We must not become resigned to our fate. The team gave everything they had. They wanted. However we simply didn’t have the luck.”
Not an opinion many others would share.
2. Did Tuchel throw in the title-race towel?
Former Dortmund coaching great, Ottmar Hitzfeld was not at all impressed with the decision of current Schwarz-Gelben hot seat incumbent, Thomas Tuchel to field a B team in Sunday’s 2-2 Ruhr derby draw at Schalke, a result which effectively gave league leaders, Bayern a free pass to stretch their lead at the top of the table to a near-unassailable seven points.
Tuchel, who opted to do without the services of the Golden Trinity of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Marco Reus and Ilkay Gundogan and also rested several other key men, argued that with games coming thick and fast, rotation had to be the order of the day, that the odds of success in Europe were far better than domestically.
Hitzfeld, though, could not agree: “I wouldn’t have dared to leave out eight players for such an important match. Fans in these parts get so emotional about this encounter and talk about it for months. You could say it’s more important to win this derby than titles.”
3. Augsburg grab a lifeline
Probably the most relieved man on the Bundesliga circuit at the weekend was Augsburg coach, Markus Weinzierl, whose side moved out of the relegation zone thanks to a gold-encrusted 2-1 smash-and-grab at fellow strugglers, Bremen.
Winless in their previous six league games and a pale shadow of the team which finished eighth and fifth in the two previous campaign, FCA’s biggest problem this year has been the leaky back-line.
But nor have they been helped by the continual speculation as to where the highly-rated Weinzierl will work next season. In recent times, the 41-year-old has been linked to Gladbach and second division promotion hopefuls, RB Leipzig and right now is thought to be in pole position to take over at Schalke from Andre Breitenreiter.
4. Let’s go, Lezcano
Only three months after joining Ingolstadt from Swiss side, Luzern, Paraguayan striker, Dario Lezcano, already looks as though he is edging towards the exit.
The tigerish 25-year-old goleador has had Bundesliga critics eating out of his hand these past few weeks and while on international duty recently, was monitored by host of big-league scouts, including emissaries of Milan, Internazionale and certain Spanish clubs.
Ingolstadt, who bought him for a club record two million euros in January, theoretically have him under lock and key until 2020, but will be sorely tempted to talk turkey if offered the chance of a substantial, quick-fire profit.
“We’d like to think we are the best place for Dario to continue his development, but also know he has ambitions to one day play for a big club,” says FCI general manager, Thomas Linke.
“We’re not the centre of the football universe. ”
5. Werder stand by their man
The relegation clouds are looming even more ominously above the Weserstadion. The Green-and-Whites have gleaned only one point from their last four fixtures and everyone seems to be calling for the head of coach, Viktor Skripnik.
Yet still club CEO, Thomas Eichin, refuses to press the panic button and put the under-fire Ukrainian out of his misery. Loyalty, continuity and eye-of the-storm stoicism are key values in this part of northern Germany and Eichin, to his immense credit, sees an eleventh-hour change of leadership as too risky a step.
“We will end the season with Skripnik, ” declared Eichin at a press briefing on Monday.
“We’ve evaluated the situation and seen how strong Viktor is. I’ve not spoken to any other candidate for the job of coach. We’ll stick with our coaching staff in this difficult phase. ”
The squad is said to be 100 per cent behind Skripnik. Over to you, boys.