In a deal that seemed inevitable the moment Adi Hütter left, Oliver Glasner has officially been announced as the new Eintracht Frankfurt boss. The Austrian manager deployed an energetic, counter-attacking, high-pressing, vertical style of football in Wolfsburg, all of which should suit Frankfurt magnificently well. However, when it comes to formation, Glasner and Hütter are drastically different. We may see something completely and totally new next season at Die Adler as a result with Oliver Glasner in charge. Here are 3 ways the German giants could line up next season under the influence of the Austrian.
3-4-2-1 / 3-4-1-2
Adi Hütter swapped back and forth between a 3-4-2-1 and 3-4-1-2 in his time in charge of Frankfurt. While Wolfsburg didn’t implement a back-three in any of their matches last campaign, a 3-4-2-1 was Glasner’s most common formation used in his first season at the club. With all of these formations, keeping hold of Andre Silva is going to be an absolute must, as no one else in the squad holds the line quite like him. After scoring 28 goals last season, the Portuguese forward will certainly be Glasner’s Wout Weghorst.
Deploying the 3-4-2-1 or 3-4-1-2 would be one of the safer approaches Glasner could take as a whole, as all players will be familiar with both systems. Moreover, having finished fifth last season, Die Adler have proven how capable they are at achieving success utilizing a back-three. What suits Glasner particularly well is the mix of verticality and width they utilized, even despite relying so heavily on chance creation from wing-backs.
One major difference between Wolfsburg and Frankfurt is the presence of actual creative attacking midfielders like Daichi Kamada and Amin Younes, rather than attacking midfielders focused on pressing like Yannick Gerhardt and Maximilian Phillipp at Wolfsburg. This shouldn’t be a problem for Glasner, but something for him to consider in the type of formation he deploys. Perhaps putting more numbers forward in a 3-4-1-2 or 3-4-2-1 will continue to suit this Frankfurt team well, instead of continuing to play a more defensive back-four formation that he might have needed to at Wolfsburg.
Frankfurt were by in large more possession-based last season in their back-three approach, where Wolfsburg were more direct. So if Glasner wants to focus more on defending, he might opt for a back-four instead. If he wants to be more attack-minded and use the energetic players he has at his disposal to go on and score more goals, sticking to a back-three might be the best solution.
Oliver Glasner played his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation a total of 29 times in 34 matches last season. As he arrives in Frankfurt, the question then becomes – will Glasner stick to his system, or adapt to Frankfurt’s? The 4-2-3-1 benefited Wolfsburg’s directness, verticality and intelligent pressing. It was a very narrow 4-2-3-1, and one that always looked to funnel passes into Wout Weghorst and play to the big man’s strengths. At Wolfsburg, Glasner utilized a more defensive presence as the team’s number 10, with chance creation and attacking fervidity coming more from very narrow wingers and central midfielders galloping forward. All of them worked in tandem to feed Wout Weghorst, which again, should be similar to what can be accomplished next season with Andre Silva. While Kamada is more of a creator, he could also play on the right wing in any formation, as Kostic continues to play in an advanced role on the left.
The problem for Frankfurt in a back-four would then be in the need to potentially sign a new left-back, or find a different solution from within. Kostic is such an undeniable figurehead for the side at left-wing-back. While his assets are probably best used further forward, the Serbian’s ability to fulfill both an attacking and defensive position was crucial to Frankfurt’s success last year. They would still have Erik Durm and Almamy Toure to come in as fullbacks and that might work, or Evan Ndicka could play as an auxiliary left-back when needed. Glasner utilized wingers as fullbacks quite lot in his time at Wolfsburg, and that might hold true…if only Frankfurt had actual wingers in their squad. Some reinforcements might be useful as a result, if Glasner wants to deploy a back-four.
But other than the wing/fullback dilemma, Frankfurt could play in very similar ways to Wolfsburg’s 4-2-3-1. Sebastian Rode and Djibril Sow would be different from Max Arnold and Xaver Schlager, but they could be just about as mobile and solid in possession. One slight complication is Evan Ndicka and Martin Hinteregger both being left-footed, but that’s also a positive for Glasner, even if they stick with a back-four. Martin Hinteregger is also capable of hitting direct long passes and could do so out from the back, with Tuta a very similar figurehead for Frankfurt as Glasner had with Maxence Lacroix. Die Adler also have the quality to play out from the back a bit more if Glasner opts for more possession and less directness, which should suit the flexibility that a manager like him requires.
While the 4-2-3-1 was Glasner’s favourite formation in 2020-21, he did at times experiment with a 4-2-2-2 / 4-4-2, particularly in 2019-20. The formation could be an interesting option for Glasner to deploy in his first season at Frankfurt, a sort of happy medium to the other two options presented. It would limit Frankfurt’s verticality to some degree, but a striker could always try and mitigate that concern by dropping deep and giving it that 4-2-3-1 shape in different moments. The formation is heavily used for pressing teams (e.g. Salzburg, Southampton), and would suit the team’s talisman Filip Kostic very well. Die Adler would likely need a new striker to partner Andre Silva, unless of course they re-sign Luka Jovic. Bas Dost left for Club Brugge for the second half of last season, and the only other centre-forward they have is a fairly unrecognizable one in Dutchman Ragnar Ache. This would also be dependent on keeping Andre Silva at the club, as there’s almost no point in operating in a front two unless they have the Portuguese forward.
In the 4-2-2-2, Glasner could opt to go more defensive and utilize a narrow 4-4-2, continuing to emphasize a focus on defense. Wolfsburg had one of the best defensive records in the league last season, and the Austrian will likely be keen to continue those principles of play at Frankfurt. If 4-2-3-1 doesn’t feel right for the personnel at his disposal, the Austrian could easily opt for a 4-2-2-2 or 4-4-2 instead.
Whatever formation Oliver Glasner deploys next season, it is sure to be exciting, energetic football as always.
So there it is! 3 ways Eintracht Frankfurt could line up next season under Oliver Glasner. Be sure to check out more tactical analyses, and follow on Twitter @mastermindsite and @bundesligatms. Thanks for reading and see you soon!
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