Vof carelessness last not a trace. Consistent, determined, reliable: Almamy Touré has surprised everyone in recent months. Good for the Mali-born Frenchman with dual nationality. Even better for Eintracht, for which the defender has been on the ball for almost three and a half years.
Especially in the Europa League, the former shaky candidate has become a constant. For example, when the task at the London Olympic Stadium was to act in an unfamiliar position and to be a support for the victorious Frankfurters, Touré was a guarantee of stability. Eintracht coach Oliver Glasner didn’t say big words about Touré’s surprising commitment. “I told him: You play.”
The English from West Ham hardly ever managed to outplay Touré. The Frenchman was almost stronger on the left than on the right, his favorite side. The fact that he is always the first choice in Glasner’s team there is also due to the fact that Martin Hinteregger is doomed to watch. This season, the Frankfurt defense chief will no longer be able to intervene due to injury. Neither at the end of the Bundesliga season on Saturday at Mainz 05 (3.30 p.m. in the FAZ live ticker for the Bundesliga and on Sky) nor on the following Wednesday in the match of the games: the final in the Europa League against Glasgow Rangers (9 p.m. in the FAZ live ticker for Europa League and on RTL).
Physical and mental comeback
Touré caught the eye just in time for the smash hit in Seville. Glasner had to change his team shortly after kick-off in the second leg against West Ham – his choice fell on the Frenchman. Touré on the right, Tuta in the middle, Evan Ndicka on the left: When Hinteregger finally signaled in the seventh minute that it was no longer possible, Glasner sent defender Touré onto the pitch, just like in the first leg. Europe – that’s not just Eintracht’s favorite playground. Touré also feels particularly comfortable there. At the away game in Antwerp at the end of September he was back after a long injury break and immediately received praise for his no-frills performance.
It was a mixture of physical and mental comeback, because Touré had decided to make his overdue and hardly thought possible breakthrough in Frankfurt with the help of a mental coach. Even then, he felt “on the right path. You have the feeling of having found a complete connection again,” he said.
Touré has made seven appearances in the previous Europa League campaign, in which Eintracht have gone unbeaten in twelve matches and deservedly made it to the final at the Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán, which can only seat 43,833 spectators. Once, in the 3-1 win over Olympiacos Piraeus in the Frankfurt Arena, the defender was even one of the goalscorers.
Not only the mental trainer, but also Glasner and his assistants must have driven Touré out of his nonsense. In the past, fickleness was a constant companion in his unsteady game. Today his performances are characterized by stringency. Touré is not a ball virtuoso, and he will never become one again. But in his core competence of preventing opposing strikers from penetrating into threatening zones, the Frenchman has earned many good marks in recent tests.
Greater flexibility in defence
Glasner also gave him confidence in the groundbreaking second leg in Barcelona, because the Frankfurt coach had to shake his formation and act there. The suspended Ndicka could not help to defeat the Catalans 3: 2 – but Touré, who was his man from the start.
Monaco, Frankfurt, Seville: A trip to Europe that was hardly thought possible is the greatest thing that has happened to Touré in his career. Having joined Eintracht from the Principality in 2019, the defender really needed some time, as predicted by his superiors at the time, to make anything of his ascribed ‘development potential’. The sporting director Fredi Bobic, who was responsible for him at the time, was right in his assessment “that with Almamy we are increasing the flexibility of our defence”.
Originally signed for four years primarily on the right flank, Touré has recently shown in groundbreaking and thrilling European Cup encounters against Spain and England that he can be counted on elsewhere in the Frankfurt team. In Andalusia, the Scots are now waiting for him and Eintracht for the grand finale.