Maurizio Sarri has warned his Chelsea team they should be wary of Eintracht Frankfurt ahead of Thursday’s first leg of their Europa League semi-final in Germany.
Sarri is coming into the final weeks of an eventful season with a European trophy and Champions League qualification in his hands but knows that the Bundesliga outfit will be the sternest test they will face in what has been a straight-forward run to the last four.
Eintracht have impressed on the continent as they chase their first European final since winning the UEFA Cup — the forerunner to the current Europa League — in 1980, seeing off highly-fancied Benfica in the previous round despite having to play with 10 men for 70 minutes of the first leg.
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“They have a very dynamic team with great intensity,” said Sarri.
“They are very dangerous at home and away. It will be difficult for us to get to the final.”
Sarri said center-back Andrea Christensen is “ready to play” as the Blues struggling with injuries, with Antonio Rudiger’s season over following knee surgery and Gary Cahill unavailable with an Achilles tendon problem.
They are also missing attacking starlet Callum Hudson-Odoi, who was tipped for a move to Germany and Bayern Munich in January but also went under the knife after rupturing his Achilles.
Adi Huetter continued to downplay his side’s chances despite a phenomenal season that sees them fourth in the Bundesliga and eyeing the final in Baku after dumping out Marseille, Inter Milan, Shakhtar Donetsk and Portuguese league leaders Benfica.
They have also been roared on by passionate supporters who have travelled in their thousands on a thrilling continental run.
“We are facing a superior opponent, but we should also like that,” said Huetter.
“We feel very comfortable in the role of the outsider.”
Huetter has plenty of ammunition at his disposal thanks to the ‘Balkan trio’ led by Serbia’s Luka Jovic, who has scored 25 goals in a breakthrough season at Frankfurt.
Jovic, Croatia forward Ante Rebic and Serbia wing-back Filip Kostic have scored over half of Frankfurt’s 58 Bundesliga goals this season and added 21 league assists for good measure. They have been involved in all but one of Frankfurt’s last 13 goals in all competitions.