Though FC Bayern München have set a punishing pace at the Bundesliga summit, it is the promoted duo of Eintracht Frankfurt and Fortuna Düsseldorf 1895 who have really caught the eye.
Eintracht have been especially impressive, becoming the first promoted team in the 50-year history of the division to win their first four fixtures – a feat not even 1. FC Kaiserslautern could achieve in their title-winning return to the top flight in 1997/98.
Armin Veh's side had already defeated Bayer 04 Leverkusen and Hamburger SV by the time they encountered champions Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday. An exhilarating 3-3 draw further strengthened their credentials. "In terms of turning defence into attack, this is the best I have ever seen from a Frankfurt side," said Dortmund coach Jürgen Klopp. "That is real quality."
Eintracht's recent success is no accident. The club have had a clear strategy – a syle of play, a defined transfer policy – for some time. A technically gifted team, they are quick in attack and keen to dominate possession where possible. Indeed, their 14 league goals so far this term is bettered only by Bayern's 17. They are a side who have Veh's fingerprints all over them.
When Veh steered VfB Stuttgart to their unexpected title triumph in 2006/07, he did so thanks to an equally attacking approach. However, the 51-year-old is staying on the defensive regarding his side's start to the campaign. "It is nice to be near the top, but we must look at this realistically," he said. "Maybe there will be more uncertain times in the future."
Frankfurt's surge has somewhat overshadowed Düsseldorf's achievement, but they have their very own success story to tell. Tipped by many to finish bottom after 15 years away from the top division, Düsseldorf coach Norbert Meier had faith in their miserly defence, and they are yet to concede in five league outings.
"It shows that things have panned out as we intended," said unbeaten goalkeeper Fabian Giefer, who has helped his side up to fourth. "We have been aggressive and passionate. According to all the pundits we are clear underdogs this season."
Though their style is not to everyone's taste, SC Freiburg's Christian Streich – whose side drew 0-0 at Düsseldorf at the weekend – is full of praise. "Düsseldorf play a great game without the ball," he said. "Everyone helps out in defence and that makes it difficult to score." For Meier, such an approach is simply common sense. "We want to attack, but our opponents do not always let us," he said. "
If I had my way, we would have 90% possession, a great chance every two minutes and a goal every 12."
Meier quipped in response to recent television criticism that "we only want to defend now; we don't want to attack at all anymore". Fortuna fans are unlikely to mind either way if results remain on a similar curve.
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