Eagles primed for key Vitória clash
Eintracht’s UEFA Europa League campaign has been far from straightforward, but Adi Hütter’s side can seal their place in the knockout stages by beating Vitória in their final group game.
A positive result against the Portuguese outfit would maintain the Eagles’ unbeaten home record against Primeira Liga sides. The 3-3 draw with Porto in 2014 will be etched in the memory for many years to come, as will the 2-0 win over record Portuguese champions Benfica at the Commerzbank-Arena last spring. Eintracht will book their place in the knockout stages with another victory on Thursday and still have an outside chance of securing top spot in Group F.
Defenders’ goals proving invaluable
Eintracht’s current tally of nine points is all the more remarkable considering that their strikers have yet to find the net in this season’s group stage. Daichi Kamada scored both SGE’s goals in last month’s 2-1 win at Arsenal, but the Japanese youngster is a midfielder by trade and only rarely operates as a forward. The Eagles’ six group-stage goals so far have been shared between their midfielders and defenders, with centre-back Evan Ndicka netting the only goal in the 1-0 win in Guimaraes in October.
Thursday’s crucial clash would be the perfect game for Eintracht’s frontmen to rediscover their shooting boots in the competition. However, presuming they qualify, Bas Dost will have to wait until next year’s last-32 tie for the chance to open his Europa League account for the Eagles. The Dutchman has been ruled out for the rest of the year with a groin problem.
Thankfully, Friday’s Bundesliga game at home to Hertha Berlin offered further proof that Eintracht can continue to rely on their defenders in front of goal. Martin Hinteregger found the net again in the 2-2 draw, with midfielder Sebastian Rode netting the Eagles’ crucial second goal - just like he did against Benfica in April. Another strike on Thursday would certainly not go amiss.
Kick-off: Thursday 12 December, 18:55 CET, UEFA Europa League group stage, Matchday 6
Stadium: Commerzbank-Arena, Frankfurt