Randal Kolo Muani might have perfectly outlined what kept the minds of Eintracht Frankfurt’s players busy regarding the Champions League.
“You are floating with your head in the clouds, but you need to stay on the ground with your feet,” the French international said in advance of the first leg of the last-16 duel against Europe’s team of the hour, the SSC Napoli.
Dreams to proceed to the next round might not come true for the 2022 Euro League winner after the 2-0 defeat on home soil as the German side is assumedly the underdog among the remaining teams.
How quickly dreamers can end up on the ground of facts, Kolo Muani experienced after a foul leading to his red card in the 58th minute, which means, the 24-year-old is going to miss the re-match in Italy in three weeks.
But despite the setback, Eintracht and Kolo Muani have already left their footsteps in European football.
The side became the first German Champions League debutant to reach the knock-out stage only one year after the club’s biggest success since 1980, the Euro League trophy last May.
Aside from a wave of excitement among the club’s supporters, Frankfurt significantly increased its income and reputation.
Napoli might be too big for a team still in the development process, but it seems inevitable to consider the club has gained quality and experience on its way up.
Not only might Kolo Muani get over the setback, but several top European sides are said to queue up to sign the gifted striker despite his until 2027 running contract.
Next to Neymar Junior (12 goals/10 assists), Lionel Messi (10/10), and Napoli’s Khvicha Kvaratskhelia (10/12), the Eintracht striker (10/14) has collected a double-digit number of both goals and assists in this season’s Champions League campaign.
The French striker developed into the German national league’s flashiest performer in Frankfurt.
“No matter how this duel’s outcome, we can notice that our development has been exceptional over the past 18 months,” sporting director Markus Krosche stated.
In the wake of the club’s first knockout stage participation, Krosche denied rumors he has received an offer from Liverpool coached by his countryman Jurgen Klopp.
“There hasn’t been any contact,” the 42-year-old said.
A wide range of challenges seems to wait in Germany as the official might be busy keeping his squad together as not only Japanese midfielder Daichi Kamada is said to be courted by several top sides.
Frankfurt’s supporters seem to appreciate the club’s achievements as warm applause rained down on the players accompanied by chants about a victory in Napoli.
Optimism is alive as German 2014 World Cup hero Mario Goetze said: “After a good start, the red card has been a killer for us, and I don’t think it was the right decision to send him off. But there is a second game ahead of us.”
Despite all hopes, a miracle seems needed to turn things around. ■