Sometimes it’s not easy even for die-hard Eintracht Frankfurt supporters to dress up their heart club’s dream trip with the right words. It’s something the Hessian Bundesliga team is doing superbly after another in the Europa League. The other thing is that the organized fan scene can be fully engaged again after two years of abstinence due to Corona. “Of course we went straight from 0 to 200! The second time in the European Cup semi-final in three years. It’s amazing!” Writing by Ultras Frankfurt before the Europa League second leg match against West Ham United (Thursday, 9pm / RTL).
The fact that there is a real chance of reaching the final after winning 2-1 in the first leg at the London Stadium also relates to a young man who started in a very similar way from 0 to 200: Ansgar Knauff, 20, top scorer in the quarter-final against Barcelona and then also in the semi-finals in Hammers”. Somehow nobody seemed to have the right winger on the bill last Thursday when he headed the opening goal less than a minute later. “Raphael’s ball”Bouri, note by Dr. editorHe was great on goal, so I had to put my head down,” Knauf said then, surprisingly sober. But he also knows: “There is still one step to go before the final.”
The only catch for Eintracht: The loan deal with Dortmund does not include an option to buy
Knauf sometimes has to pinch himself: in mid-January he played for Borussia Dortmund against Waldhof Mannheim. The second team, the third division. In mid-May, he may be able to run into the European Cup final as Eintracht Frankfurt’s top performer. How is this possible? With the manager’s imagination, the coach’s confidence and the abilities of a young professional who had difficulty facing first-class competition in Dortmund. What Eintracht’s sporting director, Marcus Kroes, knew, of course, when he agreed with BVB on a one-and-a-half year loan deal – with no purchase option. When the attacking player, born in Göttingen and initially trained in Hannover 96, arrived in Main, Crouch predicted: “Ansgar is able to help us immediately on the wings.”
Frankfurt coach Oliver Glasner put him on loan against Bayern Munich for the first time at the end of February – and since then Nauf has had a regular spot. As a rail player, you should live all the freedom in the forward gear, but never forget the reverse gear. Experienced forces such as Timothy Chandler, Danny Da Costa, Eric Dorm and Alamy Toure failed due to the complex demands of the 3-4-2-1 system, so that what looked like three out of four attacks in Frankfurt felt like firing down Philip Costek’s left flank. Only with Knauff’s meteoric rise is the flaw resolved – and harmony is less predictable.
His pace, technique, and intimidation match that of Knauff – and of course, his remaining unarmed demeanor. If he plays a bad pass – which he does relatively often – the header doesn’t go down right away. There is no kick-off from a teammate or coach. “Since he’s been here, he’s taken a huge step forward and he’s on the right track,” says Glasner. The Austrian also helped the German under-21 team, which was more than just a nice side effect. There they are really happy with the development of Knauff. Antonio de Salvo, the under-21 coach, praised a few weeks ago, saying: “Ansgar has good manners, gets past the opponent, participates in goals and assists.” “I’m so glad he took this step.” From the point of view of his assistant Daniel Nedzkowski, who also heads professional license training, there are very few Bundesliga coaches who simply trust young German players. His thesis: Most talent pays to perform over a longer period of time. Even if not everyone starts from 0 to 200 the same way as Knauff.