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Eintracht Frankfurt: Ansgar Knauff’s amazing vertical start

Dhe ascent is breathtaking. In January, Ansgar Knauff was still playing in Borussia Dortmund’s second team in the third division. And now he’s just one step away from the Champions League. Actually hard to believe.

But it’s true. Ever since the 20-year-old attacker changed his shirt color from black and yellow to black and red and has an eagle on his chest, he has been on a meteoric rise. At the end of February, in a 0-1 draw at home against Bayern Munich, his new coach Oliver Glasner called him into the Frankfurt starting line-up for the first time. Since then, Knauff has been an integral part of Eintracht.

Eintracht sports director Markus Krösche has agreed on a corresponding agreement with those responsible at BVB by mid-2023. The thought: Knauff should get more game practice. The result is the story of an undeterred and single-minded football professional who makes his way, for whom Glasner prophesies “a great career”. This is not a bold forecast, because anyone who knows how to score a goal against FC Barcelona and West Ham United on the European stage and also shine as a preparer has the big football world at their feet.

Knauff is one of the famous Eintracht ensemble, which spurs itself on to top performances in the Europa League and delights the fans. Carefree, self-confident, daredevil: the southern Lower Saxony player, who initially trained at the Spielvereinigung Göttingen, has made himself indispensable in Frankfurt. This Saturday, at the end of the Bundesliga season, which was sobering for Eintracht, he will be in the starting XI for the away game at Rhein-Main neighbors Mainz 05 (3.30 p.m. in the FAZ live ticker for the Bundesliga and on Sky) as well as on Wednesday at the most important game in the club’s history: the Europa League final against Glasgow Rangers (9 p.m.).

Knauff as an invigorating freshness factor

Knauff was also one of the Frankfurt football professionals who also documented the way to Seville. After beating West Ham 1-0 in the second leg of the semi-final, it was not long before they were donning final t-shirts that read ‘Sevilljaaaa this year’.

Knauff scored a great goal with his foot from distance at home against Barcelona. At West Ham in London’s Olympic Stadium, it was the rarely used head with which the 20-year-old managed to crack the United bulwark after just 50 seconds. Without fear and without shyness: Knauff mostly whirls on the right side for Eintracht – for his opponents he is a speed dribbler that is difficult to stop.

Like the rest of Eintracht, he too was infected and inspired by the very special Europa League flair. When the floodlights are switched on in Europe, Eintracht coach Glasner has long recognized that “then we’ll pack everything into these nights. We’re emotionally over it.” In contrast to the games in the Bundesliga, “we’re emotionally under it”.

Knauff is an invigorating fresh factor for the Frankfurt offensive game. In the canon of the new football terminology, the term rail player would suit him well. But Knauff can do more than just work purposefully along the line. He also always manages to break out and bump into rooms where Daichi Kamada is actually supposed to be. It is a plus in terms of variability in the Eintracht game. It’s also true: In Glasner’s favored 3-4-2-1 system, most of the Frankfurt attacks went down Filip Kostić’s left flank before Knauff’s loan deal. Since the sprinting Knauff was there, this imbalance in the game has been resolved.

Pleasant effect: Eintracht is far less predictable. With speed, technique and playfulness, Knauff gives the team new options. “Since he’s been here, he’s taken a big step forward and is on the right track,” says his Frankfurt coach. Antonio di Salvo, head coach of the German U-21 national team, is also delighted with Knauff’s promotion. “Ansgar has good actions, gets past the opponent, is involved with goals and assists.” What worked against Barcelona and West Ham, Knauff should now also succeed in the grand final against Rangers.

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