Europa League – Eintracht Frankfurt v Benfica – Quarterfinal Round
After a quick turnaround, Europa League is back with leg two of the quarterfinal matches this week. We’re going to take a quick look at those matchups this week, and after last week’s leg one action, most of the matchups are likely settled, at least per the various odds published around the internet.
Up next, we’re going to take a look at the matchup between German club Eintracht Frankfurt and Portuguese club Benfica. Their leg two match kicks off from Waldstadion in Frankfurt, Germany on Thursday, 18 April at 9:00pm GMT (3:00pm EST).
What Happened Leg One
Benfica got off to a roaring start in leg one, with 19-year old prodigy João Félix scoring the first of his three goals on a penalty (Evan N’Dicka was given a red card on the play) in the 21st minute. Eintracht Frankfurt equalized, with Luka Jović – who is coincidentally on loan from Benfica – scoring in the 40th minute. Félix wasn’t done, however, scoring again right before the half from outside the box to put Benfica ahead 2-1 heading into halftime.
Félix also added an assist on the night on Benfica’s third goal of the match, finding Rúben Dias shortly into the second half to give the hosts a 3-1 lead. Less than five minutes later, the teenager completed his hat trick, becoming the youngest player to net three in a game in Europa League history. Gonçalo Paciência capped the scoring for Eintracht, scoring an important second goal for the away squad in the 4-2 Benfica victory.
What the Experts are Saying
Of the four matchups in the round, this is the “closest” of the four, at least when it comes to the advancement odds of the underdog. Per FiveThirtyEight, Eintracht finds themselves with only a 22% chance of reaching the semifinals (against the winner of the Chelsea-Slavia Prague matchup), and a slight favorite (43% to 32%) off winning this match. This is where those two away matches will come in handy, as the first tie breaker is away goals. Even so, Eintracht still has pretty long odds of advancing.
What We’re Thinking
Eintracht Frankfurt will find themselves without the young defender N’Dicka, who misses the match after his red card, but otherwise, expect similar lineups from last week. The defensive focus for Eintracht has to be on Félix, though it shouldn’t be at the cost of letting another player come through for the Portuguese club.
Waldstadion is not the impenetrable fortress that a lot of home pitches are for their clubs, and Eintracht has lost three times during Bundesliga play at home this season. But in European competition, last week’s loss was the first for the Germans this year. Furthermore, the club has scored 14 goals over five home games (4-1-0) in Europa League this season, so I don’t think they’ll suddenly forget how to score in this one.
Eintracht Frankfurt has become my personal favorite club remaining in Europa League, and I think they have the squad to come from behind to when this matchup as well. Based on the fireworks from leg one, it should at least be one of the more exciting matches happening on Thursday regardless of who ends up winning.
Until next time…