Eintracht Frankfurt are taking a time out from the stress of life in the Bundesliga and traveling to Porto. In the first leg of the Europa League knockout round, the German club want to show their best side.
The departure to Porto from Frankfurt Airport on Wednesday morning was like a family outing: Almost every player's wife and even several children joined the Frankfurt team for the Europa League knockout match Thursday evening against the 27-time Portuguese champion FC Porto.
At last, head coach Armin Veh has his best personnel to choose from. Sebastian Rode, Carlos Zambrano and oft-injured captain Pirmin Schwegler, as well as, Tranquillo Barnetta traveled to Portugal. Unlike in their recent heavy league defeats against Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, Frankfurt are pushing for further success on the international stage.
"You always have a chance, and unlike last time in Dortmund, we want to perform with the best teams," says Veh.
Frankfurt only sit 12th in the league table, but their run in the Europa League has been dazzling. Although the focus for Veh's side still lies in avoiding relegation, the match against Porto can slightly ease the current pressures.
"There is no pressure, this is totally relaxed", explained Frankfurt's Herbert Bruchhagen. "The knockout round in the Europa League is for fun."
Defender Bastian Oczipka is also looking forward to the match: "This is going to be a highlight game. Everyone is looking forward to it."
Frankfurt marched through the Group Round, finishing first, and earning home advantage for the decisive return match March 27. Nevertheless, Porto remain the clear favorites against the Bundesliga side. The Portuguese dropped out of the Champions League in the group phase, with Zenit St. Petersburg, and Atletico Madrid making it through.
"Now we want to make a good showing in the Europa League," said Porto striker Jackson Martinez.