Benfica preview: Semi-finals beckon as Eintracht look to make history
Following their heroic efforts in Lisbon last week, Eintracht Frankfurt will throw everything they have at Benfica on Thursday in order to reach a European semi-final for just the second time in the club's history.
Anyone with a ticket to Thursday's encounter at the Commerzbank-Arena is already guaranteed to witness a momentous occasion, as it is just the fifth time in the club's 120-year history that Eintracht will host a European quarter-final at home. The record in those previous four fixtures is respectable, with two wins, one draw and one defeat on penalties.
The first of those came against Grasshopper Zurich in 1978, when a goal from Wolfgang Kraus and a Bernd Hölzenbein brace gave Frankfurt a 3-2 victory, although they were eliminated after losing the return leg 1-0. Two years later, the Eagles beat Czech side Zbrojovka Brno 4-1 in the quarter-final first leg at home, paving the way for a place in the last four en route to ultimately lifting the trophy.
Another 14 years would pass before Eintracht reached the same stage again in the UEFA Cup. After losing the first leg 1-0 away to Salzburg in the 1993/94 season, Maurizio Gaudino's 21st-minute goal in the return fixture in Frankfurt levelled the tie on aggregate. No more goals were scored, and the Austrians eventually won 5-4 on penalties after Gaudino and Manfred Binz missed their spot-kicks.
The last time Eintracht played a European quarter-final on home soil was in 1995, when Jan Furtok scored 15 minutes from full-time to secure a 1-1 draw against a star-stacked Juventus side in the first leg. Unfortunately, Jupp Heynckes' charges lost the return leg 3-0. Since then, Eagles fans have been waiting a quarter of a century for another chance to advance to the semi-finals. A new chapter in the club's history therefore awaits to be penned on Thursday.
Kick-off: Thursday 18 April 2019, 21:00 CEST, UEFA Europa League quarter-finals (second leg).
Venue: Commerzbank-Arena, Frankfurt.