BERLIN (Reuters) – Only a few weeks ago alarm bells were ringing at Europa League winners Eintracht Frankfurt and last season’s Bundesliga runners-up Borussia Dortmund with their bad start putting them on the backfoot.
Frankfurt failed to win any of their opening three Bundesliga matches but have since bounced back with four victories from their last five league games to climb up to fourth place on 20 points, three off leaders Union Berlin.
Frankfurt topped that with Wednesday’s 2-1 Champions League win over Olympique Marseille that put them on the brink of qualification with one matchday remaining.
They now need to keep up that winning run in the Bundesliga on Saturday against visiting Dortmund.
Key for Frankfurt’s success is former Germany international and 2014 World Cup winner Mario Goetze, whose form since his return to the Bundesliga this season has quickly made him a contender for next month’s World Cup squad.
The 30-year-old, who had played two seasons at Dutch side PSV Eindhoven, now orchestrates Frankfurt’s attacking game and this season has often played the penultimate pass before a goal.
He has scored twice himself as well but more crucially has helped Daichi Kamada, Randal Kolo Muani and Jesper Lindstroem pile up goals for the league’s second best attack.
“Our mentality is remarkable. Every single one of us works for the team,” France international Kolo Muani said. “The way we play together keeps improving and we have a lot of potential.”
“I think we can get even better.”
Dortmund, however, are also on the road to redemption following their own rollercoaster start, having failed to win more than two matches in a row.
But Edin Terzic’s team looks to be stabilising, having fought from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Bayern Munich in early October, with England international Jude Bellingham in sensational form.
The last-minute transfer of striker Anthony Modeste may have yet to pay dividends but teenager Youssoufa Moukoko is scoring seemingly at will, having so far plugged the gap left by the ailing Sebastien Haller.
Moukoko, also a World Cup candidate, has netted four times in the league as Dortmund sit in fifth place a point behind Frankfurt.
A 2-0 loss to Union was quickly followed up with a 5-0 demolition of VfB Stuttgart last week and a goalless draw in the Champions League against mighty Manchester City on Tuesday.
Dortmund, still without injured captain Marco Reus, are also all but through to the next round of Europe’s premier competition, a key season goal for the publicly traded club.
They now want to make up for lost ground in the league.
“Now we need to start a winning run in the Bundesliga,” Terzic had said after the win over Stuttgart.
(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann, editing by Pritha Sarkar)