Eintracht Frankfurt, Waldstadion

German giants Eintracht Frankfurt’s most famous game was one of their heaviest defeats. Despite handing Scottish Champions Rangers a 12-4 aggregate shellacking scoring 6 goals in both legs, their 7-3 defeat to the mighty Real Madrid in the 1960 European Cup final is one of the most famous finals of all time. Officially attended by 127,621 (although many claim it was much, much more) the match saw Madrid win their 5th consecutive title and last until 1966. The Madrid side including Puskás and Di Stéfano easily brushed aside the German champions on the Southside of Glasgow. It would take a further 20 years for the eagles to reach another UEFA Final, getting their hands on the 1980 UEFA Cup with a 3-3 away goals win against fellow Germans Borussia Mönchengladbach. While an absolutely huge club, Eintracht historically have struggled for success. Despite their monopoly being by far the biggest club in Hesse, the club has seemingly underachieved with only one German title and five DFB Pokals. Like many German giants, they’ve even spent time in the second tier with four spells in Bundesliga 2 since 1996.

Eintracht vs Nürnberg was the third match of a weekend that saw me take two Deutsche Fußball Jungfrauen to first Borussia Mönchengladbach and then Fortuna Düsseldorf II. The Sunday game in Frankfurt was preceded by a night on the beer, shots and Aperol Spritz with the two men who shall only be known as Duke and Ram. After much merriment the night before it was safe to say the pair were not in the best of spirits for the winding rattler journey down from Köln. Regional trains in Germany are considerably cheaper than the Intercity Express trains. As the journey started, my intrepid confrères were not in a great place through a mixture of hangovers and insurance issues. Anyway, I digress. The main reason Ram especially wanted to come to Germany was to watch his beloved Luka Jović who had paid for his extension on his rural manor house thanks to Football Index. As we arrived in Frankfurt I took us across the road from the hauptbahnhof to the Irish pub that many a traveller decides to stop off at. As with most German games our tram to the ground would be covered on our ticket but for now Ram needed a lie down and Duke was shaking with his head in his hands. I had a beer.

The Waldstadion as it was known prior to sponsorship deals sits in the South of Frankfurt, if you ever fly into the city the stadium will be viewable to the right on the train from the Airport. If you’re a German speaker or use Google translate you’ll know that Waldstadion means Forest Stadium and as you’d expect the stadium is situated in a wooded area. The walk to the ground either from train station or tram stop is incredibly scenic and on a day that’s not as grey and bleak as when we went quite picturesque. We got to the ground with plenty of time for Bratwurst and Beer, though, thinking about it, I think the lads held on both until the second half. Well, I enjoyed mine. The Waldstadion was completely rebuilt for the 2006 World Cup and includes a roof over the playing surface. It hosted 5 games at the World Cup as well as four games in the previous summers Confederations Cup including the final. The stadium also played host to the Women’s World Cup in 2011 where Japan upset the USA on penalties in the final at the ground. The stadium itself is beautiful, a lovely two tier bowl with a canopied roof and the classic German terrace (in the bottom tier) behind the goal and away terracing in the far corner.

Nürnberg were the visitors and Eintracht had come off the back of an impressive win in Milan against Intert, it was March 2019 and the club were in the midst of an impressive Europa League run that would eventually be ended by Chelsea in the semi-finals. Eintracht started Ram’s beloved Luka Jović but started future West Ham disappointment Sebastian Haller on the bench probably sat alongside Croatian roadrunner Ante Rebić. Nürnberg were in the midst of a season that would end in relegation and played out a frustrating tepid performance. Eintracht fresh from their heroics in took the lead after 31 minutes when Hintregger tapped home in the six yard box after a Filip Kostić cross from the left. Eintracht managed to keep the Bavarians at arms length for the remainder of a game which much to the dismay of those who bought Nürnberg shirt for cheap from M&M during Lockdown 1.

As the final whistle tooted we took our empty plastic beer glasses, a must keep for any football tourist in Germany and got the tram back to the trainstation. Duke and Ram had found themselves now and were back in the game. We headed back to Köln on the rattler to tie up some loose ends involving some aftershave, a mobile phone and a drag queen. That story is potentially for another blog though. As ever the football in Germany was great, fantastic for entry level hoppers to get their head around watching football abroad. The stadiums on the whole are fantastic and that’s before you even get to the beer and food, with reasonable prices for getting into the grounds (don’t read to much into the tickets for £12, they tend to be much, much more) and cheap travel on top. Post-Pandemic I can’t big up Germany enough.

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