Player to watch: Eintracht Frankfurt’s Alexander Meier
Alexander Meier went into the weekend as the unlikely top goalscorer in the Bundesliga. Alexander who? He is German, but despite a sound record in front of goal over many years, has never represented his country at senior level. He plays not for Bayern Munich, but for mid-table Eintracht Frankfurt, for whom his 10th season is turning out to be his best.
Meier built a cult following among Eintracht fans for the best part of a decade, partly for his long service with the club, a little for his height – he is 1.96 metres tall – and naturally for his regular habit of popping up with useful goals. But this season’s blitz is unprecedented: He has eight from 10 Bundesliga starts.
In the summer, that looked an improbable scenario. Meier, 31, was considered anything but essential to the Eintracht team that new coach Thomas Schaaf envisaged. Schaaf was keen on rejuvenating the squad, playing in a system that would dispose of the role Meier had made his own, between advanced midfield and centre-forward. He was left out of the XI for the first three games of the campaign.
Schaaf recondidered Meier’s value when he scored in a creditable 2-2 draw with Schalke. Since then, he has netted in all but three fixtures, including in the 2-0 victory last weekend over Borussia Dortmund that left Dortmund bottom of the table. That goal was a header, a rarity in the Meier portfolio. Despite his height, he is not best known for his power and precision in the air.
UPS AND DOWNS
A native of the Hamburg area, Meier started his career with local clubs St Pauli and Hamburg, but was let go at 20. His relationship with Eintracht has been long-term, but mixed, with a relegation and a promotion in the last four seasons. In 2011/12, when the club climbed back into the top flight, he was the second division’s top scorer. He took some of that momentum into the next season, scoring 16 Bundesliga goals. But last season, his total amounted to half that.
A NEW LOOK
Why the purple patch? Fans noticed one alteration about Meier from August: his haircut. He had always sported a short, semi-crewcut look. He came into this season wearing a ponytail.
Published: December 5, 2014 04:00 AM