Two Bundesliga sides with Europa League dreams face off at the Deutsche Bank Park on Saturday afternoon, as Eintracht Frankfurt hosts Werder Bremen.
Frankfurt were blown out of the water by Bayern Munich last time out, losing 5-0 at the Allianz Arena. Meanwhile, Bremen were able to maintain their four game unbeaten run, as they drew at home to Hoffenheim.
Frankfurt don’t have many injury issues to worry about, which is good. No one is confirmed to be unavailable for selection, but star man Filip Kostic is listed as doubtful due an issue with his knee, while Ragnar Ache might miss out as well.
Bremen, on the other hand, are still in the midst of an injury crisis. Things didn’t get any better last week, as top scorer Niclas Fullkrug was forced off with a calf problem that will rule him out for weeks.
He joins fellow striker Davie Selke on the sidelines, while left back Ludwig Augustinsson is also out of action for a few more weeks. Felix Agu won’t feature either, as he recently tested positive for COVID-19, while Yuya Osako and Patrick Erras are both doubtful.
Eintracht Frankfurt: Trapp, Tuta, Hasebe, Hinteregger, Toure, Ilsanker, Rode, Zuber, Kamada, Dost, Silva
Werder Bremen: Pavlenka, Selassie, Veljkovic, Moisander, Friedl, Mbom, Gross, Eggestein, Chong, Sargent, Bittencourt
Ones to watch
Many were quick to write off Andre Silva after he flopped at AC Milan, but it seems the forward has rebuilt his career in Germany.
Spending last season on loan at Frankfurt, Silva grabbed 12 goals in 25 Bundesliga games. He was more than just a scorer, as he linked up well with teammates in the final third. As a result, the club made his move a permanent one in the summer, and the decision already seems to be paying off.
Silva has been absolutely electric so far this campaign for Die Adler. He’s already got four goals after just six games in all competitions, with two assists in that time as well. These performances have been a big reason for his team’s success, as they only lost their first game of the season this past weekend, and that came on the road against reigning champions Bayern Munich.
The Portuguese international is so dangerous because he can do it all. Able to play as an old school center forward, Silva knows where to be and how to finish, whether it be with his left foot, right foot, or even with his head.
He can drop deep as well, which opens up space for everyone else out on the field. Silva is clearly Frankfurt’s danger man, and he’ll look to add to his goalscoring tally against an improved Bremen backline.
I’m not going to make the same mistake for a third straight week and write about how Milot Rashica is someone to watch out for only for him to either barely feature or not come off the bench at all.
It’s unclear how much he’ll be able to do this time around, so the creative responsibilities will likely fall on the shoulders of Leonardo Bittencourt.
A curious case, there are two versions of Bittencourt. At times, he’s a world beater, able to get on the ball and impact the game with his dribbling and shooting ability. However, when he’s not feeling it, the midfielder completely disappears from games.
He’s got so much talent in him, which is what makes his inconsistencies that much more disappointing. If Bittencourt kept performing at a high level, he'd been seen as one of the most lethal players in the Bundesliga. Instead, he’s just one of those stylish players that the streets won’t forget, but history will.
Bremen need Bittencourt to be at his very best if they want any chance of winning against Frankfurt. However, only time can tell which version of the German shows up this weekend.
Last time out
It was a clash at the opposite end of the table the last time these two sides faced off, as both were in the midst of a relegation battle.
Bremen started on the right foot, and carved out a few decent chances early on. Frankfurt responded well, to their credit, with each goalkeeper forced into some big first half saves.
It would be Die Adler who eventually pulled away, though, scoring three in the final half hour to secure the victory.
The floodgates were opened when Filip Kostic whipped in a sublime cross to Andre Silva, who made no mistake with the finish from close range. Then would come the most remarkable of braces, as defender Stefan Ilsanker scored twice off the bench. He poked home a corner with his first touch of the game, and then headed another set piece into the back of the net to make it 3-0.
The win helped Frankfurt in their fight for survival, while Bremen were ultimately forced to go through the relegation playoff to maintain their Bundesliga status.
Where to watch
The contest won’t be broadcasted in the UK, but those in the United States will be able to see the game on ESPN+.