Frankfurt enjoying Bundesliga return

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BERLIN (AP) -After an impressive start this season in the Bundesliga, Eintracht Frankfurt coach Armin Veh will take his team to Stuttgart - the club he coached to the 2007 title.

Second-place Frankfurt is the season's surprise so far, losing only once to stay five points behind Bayern Munich, which has made a record start.

Also Sunday, Bayern can make it nine wins from nine with victory at home over Bayer Leverkusen, and Hannover hosts Borussia Moenchengladbach.

Twelve points behind Bayern after losing to Schalke in the Ruhr derby last weekend, defending champion Borussia Dortmund needs to forget Wednesday's 2-1 Champions League win over Real Madrid when it visits Freiburg.

Schalke, in third, hosts Nuremberg, also Saturday, while Werder Bremen visits Greuther Fuerth, Mainz hosts Hoffenheim, and Wolfsburg visits Fortuna Duesseldorf. Hamburger SV gets the ninth round underway Friday at Augsburg.

The 51-year-old Veh has overseen a remarkable turnaround in Frankfurt's fortunes since being appointed coach after the club was relegated in 2011.

With a quick pressing game to pressure opponents in possession and quick incisive play with the ball, Frankfurt scored more goals that any other side in the second division (76), eventually finishing runner-up to Greuther Fuerth.

Frankfurt was busy in the offseason, snapping up second-division leading scorer Olivier Occean from Fuerth, Japanese midfielder Takashi Inui from Bochum, midfielder Martin Lanig from relegated Cologne, and defenders Bastian Oczipka and Carlos Zambrano from Leverkusen and relegated St. Pauli, respectively.

The off-season's biggest outlay, ?1.5 million ($1.94 million), went on goalkeeper Kevin Trapp from relegated Kaiserslautern.

Veh has continued Frankfurt's attacking ways in the top division, with all the new arrivals making an impact as Frankfurt became the first side promoted to the Bundesliga to win its opening four games. That was then followed by a spectacular 3-3 draw with Dortmund.

The loss to Moenchengladbach was followed by an impressive 3-1 win over Hannover last weekend.

"He hasn't changed much since (2008)," said Lanig, recalling the time he previously played under Veh at Stuttgart. "He exudes something as a person, understands how to guide a team, and is a really sincere guy."

Frankfurt assistant coach Reiner Geyer, who started working with Veh in 1996 at Fuerth, and then again at Reutlingen and Hamburg, told Kicker magazine that "the experiences have molded him, the positive more than the negative, especially the title with Stuttgart."

Veh is refusing to get carried away by his side's fantastic start to the campaign, and has transmitted his pragmatism to his players.

"We're all happy with the (19) points, but it would be the wrong approach to set new goals (for the season)," defender Sebastian Jung said.

Stuttgart will be desperate for its first home win of the season after a disappointing start to the campaign. Last weekend's hard-fought 1-0 win at Hamburg was only its second overall.

Bayern may have to make do without Franck Ribery after the France winger went off at halftime in Bayern's 1-0 Champions League win at Lille with muscular problems in his thigh.

"I'm afraid that I might not make it," Ribery told Bild. "The doctor and physio said at halftime that it'd be a risk if I played on."

There was better news regarding Arjen Robben, after Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes said the winger took a full part in training on Tuesday.

"I'm optimistic that that he can play again against Kaiserslautern (in the German Cup on Wednesday)," said Heynckes, who indicated that the Leverkusen game was too soon for the Netherlands winger.

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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