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Bundesliga

Bundesliga report card: Eintracht Frankfurt

A spirited showing in Europe, coupled with a shaky league season. Frankfurt's success last season stretched their squad this time out. But all the key objectives were met, according to Mark Hallam's end-of-term report.

Midnight struck for last season's Cinderella side Frankfurt in this current campaign, as Armin Veh could only steer his squad to 13th in the league. But Eintracht reached the knockout phases of the Europa League, running eventual semifinalists FC Porto remarkably close in the round of 32.

Coach, club and fans decided to pour all they could into their unlikely European return, sometimes at the expense of the league competition. In the home stretch, with the Europa League stresses behind them, they pulled well clear of the drop zone to finish 13th.

Key player

This should have been Sebastian Rode, but wasn't. The playmaker could not recreate last season's form, even as his big-money departure beckoned.

In front of Rode, captain Alex Meier led the team. He picked up eight league goals, and another seven in just six games in the Europa League. The injury-prone veteran only played 21 of a possible 34 Bundesliga games, and it was no coincidence that during his absence in the first half of the season, Frankfurt were largely disappointing.

Surprise player

Two wingers caught my eye in this category. Stefan Aigner takes the prize for simply refusing to be ousted from Armin Veh's first-team plans. So many Frankfurt signings seemed candidates to replace the former 1860 Munich man - yet he continues to deliver down the right, with four goals and eight assists this season.

Europa League FC Girondins de Bordeaux Eintracht Frankfurt

Not many clubs could mobilize 12,000 for an away group game in the Europa League

Schalke loanee Tranquilo Barnetta also provided a pleasant surprise. After years sidelined with injury, he returned to something approaching the form that made him a key man at Leverkusen, proving his career's not destined for an immature end at just 28.

Coach

Armin Veh's three seasons with Frankfurt could scarcely have gone better: Promotion from the second division, Europa League qualification on their Bundesliga return, and now a consolidation season where the water never got too deep.

Defining moment

Some teams, and fans, don't take the Europa League seriously. Let that never be said about Frankfurt. The army of 12,000 traveling fans that went to Bordeaux for a group-stage game was a spectacle destined not to be topped - until Frankfurt's heroic exit at the hands of Porto. The 3-3 festival of attacking football shows that Veh and Frankfurt are no fans of T.S Eliot. They would have been forced to end 'The Hollow Men' with: This is the way the world ends, not with a whimper but a bang.

What's next?

As Veh parts ways with the club, the question is who will come next. One of Germany's most travelled coaches, Bernd Schuster, has expressed his interest in a Bundesliga return. The next step for the club - graduating from mid-table runners to continental contenders - will be tricky for whoever is tasked with achieving it.

Grade: C+

As this is a "Bundesliga report card," I couldn't bring myself to award a B for a bottom-third finish in the table. However, a DFB Pokal quarterfinal and that Europa League run would have warranted an A- outside the Bundesliga.