Sadio Mane has yet to kick a ball in the Bundesliga and already the former Liverpool striker is facing jibes – including a tongue-in-cheek volley from Bayern Munich’s opening-day opponents.
Eintracht Frankfurt president Peter Fischer is relishing Friday’s tussle between his team, who lifted the Europa League trophy in May, and German champions Bayern.
There is a feelgood factor around Eintracht as the new season arrives, with a UEFA Super Cup clash against Real Madrid coming up next Wednesday.
Confidence is surging, and even the prospect of facing Bayern is not intimidating the team that trailed in 11th in last season’s Bundesliga.
Bayern have lost Robert Lewandowski since he hit 50 goals last season, and few would expect new addition Sadio Mane to come close to that tally.
Not many would see it wise to be hurling insults his way, though, however light-hearted the intention.
Fischer, in an interview with broadcasters RTL and n-tv, did just that though, as he said: “Who the f*** is Mane?”
Fischer added: “By the way, we always did relatively well with Robert Lewandowski.”
That is debatable, given that Lewandowski scored 15 goals in 18 appearances against Eintracht, prior to his close-season switch to Barcelona. They came at a rate of one every 91.53 minutes.
Fischer predicted there would be “an exciting mood in the stadium” as Eintracht host the 10-in-a-row champions.
“And of course we have a chance. If it ends in a draw, I won’t start to cry either.”
Eintracht head coach Oliver Glasner worked with Mane when the Senegalese forward moved from Metz to Salzburg in 2012, and he has since admired the 30-year-old from afar, particularly during his stellar six-year Liverpool career.
“I am happy that Sadio is in the Bundesliga now,” Glasner told a news conference. “It’s been 10 years since I got to know him. He was just a young boy that was relegated from the French second to third division. He only spoke French but had enormous talent.
“He was very ambitious and had a clear idea. When we talked about learning German, he said he wants to learn English because he wants to go to the Premier League.
“I am very happy for him. And for Bayern to sign a player from Liverpool is evidence of the attractiveness of the Bundesliga which they were afraid of losing.”
Glasner said his team would not be “raising the white flag” of surrender against Bayern and would “do everything we can” to score the upset win, even if he sees Bayern as champions in waiting once again.
After Bayern comes the Madrid game for Eintracht in Helsinki.
“This morning I said it’s actually cool for us,” Glasner added. “We play the Champions League winners three years ago on Friday and the current Champions League winners on Wednesday. Quite a cool start. Nevertheless, I think that over the course of the Bundesliga season, Bayern will have the edge again.”