Berlin: Eintracht Frankfurt expect thousands of German fans to travel again in the hope of inspiring another away victory, like the shock win at Barcelona, for Thursday’s Europa League semi-final first leg at West Ham.
Around 30,000 Eintracht fans managed to get tickets for the second leg of their quarter-final at Camp Nou, roaring the German club to a stunning 3-2 win at Barcelona to seal a 4-3 aggregate victory.
Visiting Frankfurt fans have been allocated 5000 tickets for the game at West Ham’s London Stadium, which has a capacity of 60,000, but the German club expects tens of thousands of fans to make the journey.
“I am absolutely sure there will be more than 5,000 in the city,” Eintracht CEO Axel Hellmann said.
“Our fans like to travel and support their team abroad - that’s why we brought 15,000 to Inter Milan,” for the last-16 tie in 2019. Frankfurt reached the semi-finals that year before losing to Chelsea on penalties.
“30,000 at Barcelona was absolutely the peak of our club history’s going abroad. It’s part of our DNA.”
Leipzig vs Rangers
The other semi-final pits RB Leipzig, another Bundesliga team, against Scottish champions Rangers in their first leg clash. Leipzig stormed in the last four on the back of a superb 3-1 aggregate win over Italian side Atalanta thanks to a brace by Christopher Nkunku in the quarter-final second leg, which sealed a 2-0 victory.
Domenico Tedesco, the Eintracht manager, said his team can expect a tough test against a side that sent their German rivals Borussia Dortmund crashing in the knockout round play-offs with a 6-4 aggregate victory.
“Rangers threw Dortmund out of the competition and that says a lot,” Tedesco told a news conference. “We know how strong this team is. They are a very physically strong team that, if they put their mind to it, can beat any opponent.
“Rangers are strong on the wings and have players with good individual quality in that position. They put a lot of crosses into the box and get a good amount of players into the area.”
Frankfurt’s Colombia forward Rafael Borre explained why the upset win on a magic night in Barcelona has captured the imagination of Frankfurt fans.
“Many people thought it was impossible. So when you achieve it, it’s normal for people to feel euphoric,” said Borre, who scored away to Barcelona in the quarter-final.
In a bid to avoid a repeat of the scenes at Camp Nou that prompted Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez to say it felt like they had been “robbed in their own home”, West Ham have warned their supporters against selling tickets to Frankfurt fans.
Under Austrian coach Oliver Glasner, Frankfurt have struggled at times in the Bundesliga this season, saving their best performances for Europe.
Their fans are desperate to reach the final in Seville on May 18 for the chance of silverware.
Before their shock win over Bayern Munich in the 2018 German Cup final, Eintracht’s previous title was in 1979-80 when they won the Uefa Cup - the precursor to the Europa League - by beating Borussia Moenchengladbach over two legs in an all-German final.