Eintracht Frankfurt will be eyeing a comeback as they host Strasbourg in the second leg of their UEFA Europa League qualifying playoff.
After a shocking result in the first leg, Eintracht Frankfurt will be desperate for a turnaround when they meet Strasbourg on Thursday. The Bundesliga giants are coming on the back of a narrow 1-0 defeat in the first leg of their UEFA Europa League qualifying playoff.
The Eagles conceded a sloppy first-half goal, scored by Kevin-Lucien Zohi, which turned out to be the main difference between the two sides in the first leg. They failed to break down a disciplined Strasbourg defence, amassing only four shots on target. This time, however, they will welcome the Ligue 1 outfit at the Commerzbank Arena, where they had an excellent record last season.
That being said, Frankfurt are coming on the back of a 2-1 defeat to RB Leipzig in their last game. They struggled to find the net for the most period before Goncalo Paciencia scored a late goal, which only turned out to be a consolation.
Strasbourg, however, are winless in their first three games in Ligue 1 this season. Their latest defeat came against Stade Rennais on Sunday, with Abdallah N’Dour notably getting sent off late in the game.
And here, at the Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over the two sides ahead of this crucial Europa League qualifying playoff game this midweek.
Team News & Tactics
Adi Hutter is likely to deploy the strongest possible Eintracht Frankfurt lineup in his bid to qualify for the Europa League this campaign. But, Ante Rebic could once again miss out after being left out of the squad against RB Leipzig. The Croatian international is facing an uncertain future at the club, and coach Hutter has suggested that the player should leave, after a half-hearted performance in the first leg.
New signing Dejan Joveljic will likely replace Rebic. Paciencia will partner the Serbian in the two-man Eintracht attack. Daichi Kamada, meanwhile, will be deployed in the number ten role. The 23-year-old has become a vital part of the Eagles attack, and his creativity could be useful against Strasbourg.
Lucas Torro may return to the starting lineup, forming the double pivot alongside Jonathan de Guzman, whose attack-minded nature is more fitted to Frankfurt’s game as they look to overturn the one-goal deficit this midweek.
Elsewhere, Erik Durm will be replaced by Danny da Costa, although Timothy Chandler is also an option, having returned from a long injury layoff. da Costa will operate as the right wing-back, with Filip Kostic featuring on the opposite flank.
The defence could remain unchanged, with the defensive trifecta of Makoto Hasebe, Martin Hinteregger and David Abraham forming the three-man backline. As for Kevin Trapp, he will retain his place his goal as well and will be hoping not to concede.
Probable Lineup (3-4-1-2): Trapp; Abraham, Hasebe, Hinteregger; da Costa, Torro, de Guzman, Kostic; Kamada; Joveljic, Paciencia.
Thierry Laurey has predominantly used a 5-3-2 formation so far this campaign, and it will likely remain the same against Eintracht Frankfurt on Thursday. However, we could expect one of the three midfielders operate in a relatively advanced role, almost making it a 5-2-1-2.
Matz Sels is a guaranteed starter in between the sticks, having performed really well since moving to the club from Newcastle United last summer. Kenny Lala will return to the starting lineup after being rested against Rennes on the weekend. The 27-year-old will operate as the right-sided defensive wing-back with Lionel Carole starting on the opposite flank.
N’Dour is eligible to feature in this game despite being red-carded against Rennes. But, he is expected to be replaced by club captain Stefan Mitrovic. The Serbian will be partnered by Lamine Kone and Alexander Djiku at the heart of Strasbourg’s five-man backline.
The young Jean-Licner Bellegarde may not receive a starting berth in such a high-octane encounter. Veteran midfielder Dimitri Lienard is likely to replace the 21-year-old. The Frenchman will form the double-pivot, alongside Jonas Martin.
And finally, in attack, Adrien Thomasson may be deployed as the lone attacking midfielder, just behind the two strikers in Ludovic Ajorque and Kevin Zohi.
Probable Lineup (5-2-1-2): Sels; Lala, Kone, Mitrovic, Djiku, Carole; Martin, Lienard; Thomasson; Ajorque, Zohi.
- Strasbourg have kept a clean sheet in their last 3 matches in the UEFA Europa League.
- Strasbourg have won their last 3 matches in the competition, winning each of the games with a one-goal margin.
- In their five matches in this season’s Europa League qualifying campaign, Eintracht Frankfurt have managed just two clean sheets, while conceding three goals.
- Eintracht Frankfurt’s first leg defeat to Strasbourg is their only defeat in Europe so far this term, with the Bundesliga outfit winning the rest of their four fixtures.
Player to Watch
Whenever an underdog has to retain a narrow advantage in a two-legged fixture, goalkeepers, oftentimes, play a key role in the outcome. And we could expect a similar situation this midweek as the Strasbourg defence look to contain the Eintracht Frankfurt attack at the Commerzbank Arena.
That means the performance of goalkeeper Sels could more or less shape the fate of the French outfit. The Belgian is coming on the back of an impressive debut campaign in Strasbourg last season. And he has conceded only three goals in Europe this season, keeping three clean sheets.
If Sels continues to impress between the sticks for the visitors on Thursday, Eintracht players are bound to get frustrated, causing them to either switch off or expose themselves at the back. Hence, the ex-Anderlecht star must perform in this crunch encounter.
Eintracht Frankfurt 1-1 Strasbourg
Frankfurt have really struggled in the past week or so, not only because of lack of form but also due to several off-field issues. And with that in mind, the players will be in pressure to perform, especially having lost the first-leg. And that may get the better of them as we expect Strasbourg to score an away goal and seal the tie on aggregate.