NOf course there were a few tears too. Axel Hellmann wasn’t the only one who got a warm heart and wet eyes on a mild football evening. “Round of 16 – that sounds great,” said Eintracht’s board spokesman, who was one of the 41,744 eyewitnesses at the Estádio José Alvalade. Witnessing a football game that was like a roller coaster ride, aroused great emotions and brought the Frankfurt team of coach Oliver Glasner into new spheres.
Eintracht is now one of the 16 best teams in Europe. Hellmann described reaching the knockout phase in the Champions League in the Portuguese capital as “historic. It’s special for our club. We had a lot of stones on our backs in between.” The 2:1, shot out by Daichi Kamada, who converted a hand penalty (62nd minute), and Randal Kolo Muani, who penetrated the penalty area of Sporting Lisbon with elemental force and all his strength in shot (72nd) of his life was on the brink for a long time.
Third, third, fourth, third, third, first, second: Eintracht’s placement curve during the 90 minutes resembled a hot day on the stock exchange. It was always up and down, which also had something to do with the respective score of the parallel encounter between Olympique Marseille and Tottenham Hotspur, in which the English ultimately prevailed as group winners.
“The mentality is outstanding”
First or second in Group D – that didn’t matter on this emotional evening. The main thing is to continue, the main thing is to reach the round of 16. Hellmann said with pathos in his voice: “We have this special glow in the club that we can kindle to a fire in moments like this. That can take us a long way. Only great teams are in the round of 16, we’ll take that under the Christmas tree and dream of a second Villarreal, who made it to the semi-finals.”
Like so many at Eintracht, who have seen the club grow rapidly between the 2016 relegation and now entering the knockout phase of the premier class in 2022, the moved board spokesman located the coup with Glasner and his players. “The mentality of this team is outstanding. There are teams that have single players with a higher market value. But we are a team. It’s hard to drive a wedge in and beat us.”
Calm, prudent and factually analyzing, it was the Austrian football coach Oliver Glasner who addressed the right words to his international team during the half-time break. Eintracht had to turn the game – but not somehow. “It wasn’t a question of tactics, but of conviction,” said Glasner later in the stadium’s press conference room, where the enthusiastic supporters waited a long time outside in the curve and let Eintracht live singing.