Three-time UEFA Cup winners Internazionale have their eyes on a first UEFA Europa League quarter-final but, despite being held 0-0 at home by the Nerazzurri in the first leg, Eintracht Frankfurt remain unbeaten in Europe this season and will fancy their chances of causing an upset at San Siro.
• Inter finished third in UEFA Champions League Group B, losing out to second-placed Tottenham Hotspur on the head-to-head rule with eight points – six fewer than section winners Barcelona. Their introduction to the UEFA Europa League brought a straightforward 5-0 aggregate victory over Rapid Wien in the round of 32.
• It has been an impressive campaign so far for Eintracht. They topped Group H with maximum points as they won home and away against Lazio, Apollon Limassol and 2017/18 runners-up Marseille, before seeing off Shakhtar Donetsk, who had moved across from the UEFA Champions League, 6-3 on aggregate in the round of 16.
• A 22nd-minute Marcelo Brozović penalty saved by Eintracht goalkeeper Kevin Trapp was the major incident of a scoreless first leg in which Samir Handanovič was also kept busy in the Inter goal.
• Inter’s 38 UEFA competition matches against German opponents have yielded 16 wins, nine draws and 13 defeats; at home their record is W9 D1 L7. Their only previous UEFA Europa League fixtures against Bundesliga opponents resulted in a 2-5 aggregate defeat against Wolfsburg in the 2014/15 round of 16, which included a second-leg 1-2 loss in Milan.
• Inter defeated Bayern München 2-0 in the 2010 UEFA Champions League final but lost on penalties to Schalke in the UEFA Cup final of 1997 – one of only five two-legged UEFA ties they have lost out of 13 against German clubs.
• Eintracht’s record against Italian teams is W4 D2 L2, their 2-1 group stage win at Lazio making it two wins from their three visits to Italy. Their record in two-legged ties against opposition from Italy – both of which occurred in the 1994/95 UEFA Cup – is W1 L1.
• Fourth in Serie A in 2017/18, Inter qualified for the UEFA Champions League for the first time since 2011/12. However, they ended a run of eight successive qualifications for the knockout phase by failing to build on two opening 2-1 victories at home to Tottenham and away to PSV Eindhoven, adding just two more points to their total in the final four matchdays and going down 1-0 to Spurs at Wembley in what proved a telling defeat.
• Inter’s most recent European campaign came in 2016/17, when they failed to progress from their UEFA Europa League group. On both their previous participations in this competition they were eliminated in the round of 16, losing to Tottenham in 2012/13 (0-3 away, 4-1aet home) and Wolfsburg (1-3 away, 1-2 home) two years later.
• UEFA Cup winners in 1991, 1994 and 1998, Inter are also the last Italian team to have been crowned champions of Europe, their 2010 UEFA Champions League triumph adding to previous European Cup successes in 1964 and 1965.
• The Nerazzurri are unbeaten in six European home games (W4 D2). In the UEFA Europa League, qualifying phase included, their record in Milan is W10 D4 L3.
• Inter have been victorious in 15 of the 20 UEFA competition ties – and all of the last six – in which they have recorded a first-leg away draw. On the ten occasions that they have drawn 0-0 away in the first leg they have gone on to win the tie eight times, including in both the quarter-final (against Atalanta) and semi-final (against Sporting CP) of their triumphant 1990/91 UEFA Cup campaign; the two defeats have both been on away goals after 1-1 home draws, most recently against city rivals AC Milan in the 2002/03 UEFA Champions League semi-finals.
• A dramatic 2017/18 German Cup final victory over Bundesliga champions Bayern München – 3-1 in Berlin – gave Eintracht their first major silverware in 30 years and secured their first European campaign in five.
• The 1980 UEFA Cup winners opened their Group H campaign with a 2-1 victory in Marseille and secured qualification by beating Lazio (4-1 home) and Apollon (2-0 home, 3-2 away), maintaining their winning streak against Marseille (4-0 home) and Lazio (2-1 away) to finish nine points clear of the Italian club. A 2-2 draw at Shakhtar in the first leg of the round of 32 ended their winning run but a 4-1 victory in the return, in which Sébastien Haller scored twice, propelled them into the UEFA Europa League last 16 for the first time.
• Eintracht’s only other European participation in the past dozen seasons came in 2013/14, when they successfully negotiated the UEFA Europa League play-offs and group stage, topping their section with 15 points, before going out on away goals to Porto in the round of 32 (2-2 away, 3-3 home).
• Eintracht’s overall record in the UEFA Europa League, home and away and including qualifying, is W14 D4 L1, the sole defeat having come at Maccabi Tel-Aviv (2-4) in November 2013. They are now 13 UEFA Europa League matches unbeaten – just two shy of Atlético Madrid’s all-time record. Their away record in the competition is W6 D2 L1.
• Eintracht have been held to a home draw in the first leg of a UEFA tie three times and have lost all three on aggregate, twice going down 1-0 away after goalless first legs – against KV Mechelen in the 1988/89 European Cup Winners’ Cup quarter-finals and Galatasaray in the 1992/93 UEFA Cup second round – and on the other occasion suffering elimination after a 1-1 draw against Inter’s Serie A rivals Juventus in the 1994/95 UEFA Cup quarter-finals was followed by a 0-3 defeat in Turin.
Links and trivia
• Inter’s Ivan Perišić played in Germany with Borussia Dortmund (2011–13) and Wolfsburg (2013–15). He faced Eintracht six times, the first with Dortmund and the other five with Wolfsburg. He lost none of those games and scored against them for Wolfsburg in a 2-1 win on the opening day of the 2015/16 season – his last Bundesliga goal before departing for Inter two weeks later.
• From January to September 2013 Eintracht’s Makoto Hasebe played alongside Perišić at Wolfsburg.
• Eintracht’s Ante Rebić was a 2018 FIFA World Cup runner-up with Croatia alongside Perišić and Marcelo Brozović.
• Rebić is a former Fiorentina team-mate of Borja Valero and Matías Vecino, while Gelson Fernandes (Chievo, Udinese) and Jonathan de Guzmán (Napoli, Carpi, Chievo) have also played in Italy. Alongside Fernandes at Udinese in 2011/12 were Samir Handanovič and Kwadwo Asamoah.
• In the autumn Eintracht became the first German club to win all six of their matches in a UEFA Europa League group stage. Despite drawing a blank in the first leg they are the joint top-scoring team in the competition, with 23 goals – level with Sevilla.
• With six goals Eintracht’s Serbian striker Luka Jović is just one behind the competition’s joint leading scorers, Munas Dabbur of Salzburg and Wissam Ben Yedder of Sevilla.
• Frankfurt are one of seven teams to have come through the UEFA Europa League group stage undefeated, and one of only three to have retained that status after the round of 16 first legs, along with Villarreal and Chelsea.
• Eintracht are one of four clubs involved in the round of 16 who have never previously participated at this juncture of the UEFA Europa League; Slavia Praha, Dinamo Zagreb and Rennes are the others.
• There are seven former winners of the UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League in this season’s round of 16. This is the only tie between two of those clubs.
• Inter’s record in four UEFA penalty shoot-outs is W2 L2:
5-4 v Celtic, 1971/72 European Champion Clubs’ Cup semi final
3-4 v Aston Villa, 1994/95 UEFA Cup first round
5-3 v Grazer AK, 1996/97 UEFA Cup second round
1-4 v Schalke, 1996/97 UEFA Cup final
• Eintracht’s record in one UEFA penalty shoot-out is W0 L1:
4-5 v Salzburg, 1993/94 UEFA Cup quarter-final
• Luciano Spalletti has followed a modest playing career by establishing himself as one of the leading Italian coaches. His first breakthrough came at Udinese, prompting Roma to employ him in 2005. He claimed two Coppa Italia wins with the Giallorossi, and was twice voted Serie A coach of the year, before leaving in 2009 for Zenit, where he was a double Russian title winner. A return to Roma, and a Serie A runners-up spot, persuaded Inter to appoint him in June 2017. His debut campaign secured the club’s first UEFA Champions League participation in seven seasons.
• Austrian coach Adi Hütter was appointed by Eintracht Frankfurt as the successor to Bayern München-bound Niko Kovač in May 2018, having just led Young Boys to their first Swiss league title in 32 years. A midfielder who spent seven years with Salzburg, he returned to lead the club to a domestic double in 2014/15 after managerial spells at Altach and Grödig. He then crossed the border to spend the next three seasons in Berne.