Short-haul European trip
Eintracht Frankfurt find themselves up against French opponents for the eighth time in the club’s history, but this will be their first trip to Alsace, where RC Strasbourg are standing between them and a place in the group stage of the UEFA Europa League.
It’s “winner takes all” in qualifying for the UEFA Europa League. After successfully making it past Flora Tallinn and FC Vaduz, and Maccabi Haifa and Lokomotiv Plovdiv respectively, SGE and Strasbourg now face one another in the play-offs. The winner will advance to the group stage, meaning that both teams will have their eyes on the prize when they meet on French soil for the first leg.
Brief journey for the Eagles
The road to qualifying for this year’s UEFA Europa League is getting shorter and shorter for Eintracht and their fans, both literally and metaphorically. While it was a little tricky to organise a flight to the Estonian capital of Tallinn in under a week, the 470-kilometre trip to the Principality of Liechtenstein was a far more pleasant prospect, either by coach or car. And now in the play-offs, the team is off to Alsace for what almost amounts to a local derby – in fact, it would be a short trip for Frankfurt even by Bundesliga standards! Strasbourg is virtually the same distance away as Stuttgart – around 220 kilometres – making this trip twice as short as the one to Vaduz a fortnight ago. SGE fans who have been on Europa League travels in recent months would likely describe it as just around the corner, after journeying to Lisbon, Kharkiv and Limassol, among other venues, and racking up the miles. Despite the geographic proximity, there will not be a record away following as the Stade de la Meinau – Racing Strasbourg’s traditional home – only has a capacity of 24,000 for international matches. And according to UEFA Europa League rules, that means that only 1,200 tickets have to be allotted to the away team.
Kick-off: Thursday 22 August, 20:30 CEST, UEFA Europa League, play-offs (first leg).
Venue: Stade de la Meinau, Strasbourg.