New coach Thomas Schaaf has a big job in front of him at Eintracht Frankfurt. They disappointed last year after an amazing season before. The obstacles for success this season have grown more than Schaaf expected with the losses of key players to other Bundesliga teams. Sebastian Rode moved onto Bayern Munich. Joselu‘s loan ended. Former captain Pirmin Schwegler went off to Hoffenheim. Frankfurt have to find cohesion early, but their offseason losses are a heavy burden.
Frankfurt finished in 13th place last year after losing four of their last five matches. That included three scoreless games. Scoring goals was the biggest problem for Frankfurt last year. Their total of 40 goals was on par with the bottom half of the table. The magic spark of Takashi Inui from 2012-13 was gone and he only appeared in 14 games and failed to score a goal. The 13th-place finish was the last note for Armin Veh as he stepped down at the end of the season.
Sebastian Jung left for Wolfsburg. The player that replaced him in the four games he missed, Stefano Celozzi, also left the club. Timmy Chandler of the USMNT was signed to replace Jung. Outside of that change, the back line should remain intact from last year. Peruvian center back Carlos Zambrano will be the keystone to the back line. Kevin Trapp has been an outstanding, durable No. 1 keeper. They were pretty stout last year on defense, so the concern lies elsewhere.
All of the losses means new acquisitions Makoto Hasebe and Aleksandar Ignjovski must fill in. Both will play in a defensive role. Hasebe looks to be fully fit after injuries plagued him in the recent years. Like Chandler, Hasebe came over from Nürnberg. Hasebe only served one year of his original three-year contract with Nürnberg. Ignjovski played for Schaaf previously at Werder Bremen.
Alexander Meier will be the attacking midfielder and key in the center of the field. He has been with Frankfurt since 2004 and will get close to 300 matches with the team this season barring injury. Meier has scored 80 goals in that time span.
Haris Seferovic arrived this summer and could be part of a front two with Nelson Valdez. Schaaf prefers attacking football, so he will need dynamic strikers. Lucas Piazon comes on a loan from Chelsea as another option up front. Valdez is the elder statesmen with both Seferovic and Piazon under 22 years old. It is a completely different look up front for a team that struggled mightily to score in 2013-14. It is worth the gamble.
SV Waldhof Mannheim, Terek Grozny and UC Sampdoria have all defeated Frankfurt in the preseason. Schaaf has been trying a lot of things to see what might work. Not much has worked yet, showing just how far Frankfurt is from finding their form. Right now, they are not on the same page. Before the transfer window opened, they knew they would lose two players. They had no idea they would lose double-digits.
Three out of their first five matches will be against teams that finished in the top six last season. Frankfurt does play Freiburg twice early, so they will need to capitalize on that matchup given the rest of their early schedule. Given the state of the team, a bad start looks likely. That could be the beginning of a rough season.
Prediction for 2014-15 record: 5-11-18 with 26 points; a 16th-place finish.