With renowned support behind his side, Armin Veh thinks Eintracht Frankfurt are well placed to overcome FC Porto and reach the UEFA Europa League round of 16.
Given they battled back from 2-0 down to earn a 2-2 first-leg draw in Portugal last week, the momentum seems to be with Veh's men, who are already enjoying a thrilling continental campaign."This is something big for us," the 53-year-old coach said. "We have said all season that it is special for Eintracht Frankfurt to be playing in the Europa League. Our games almost always sell out and we have fans that you don't see anywhere in Europe. We also got a good result in the first leg."
Twice European champions, Porto have also lifted this trophy as the UEFA Cup (2003) and the UEFA Europa League (2011) – but 1980 UEFA Cup winners Eintracht will not be overawed. "Porto are still favourites. They are the same side as ever and they are good away from home," said Veh, who has led VfB Stuttgart and VfL Wolfsburg in Europe. "They have the better individuals, but if we work as a team, we can do something. If everything works out, we can go through. They were favourites in the first leg too."
If Eintracht's UEFA Europa League exploits have been counterbalanced by a disappointing Bundesliga season – they are just three points above the relegation zone – Veh remains certain that further progress on foreign fields will be his players' sole focus in Thursday's round of 32 decider. "I have learned as a coach that there is no use being nervous because of one's league situation," he explained. "We are taking it match by match, and tomorrow is a knockout game. We are sportsmen and we want to go through."
Porto have their own domestic concerns, having slipped seven points off the Portuguese Liga summit following Sunday's 1-0 home defeat by Estoril Praia. "We are constantly working on getting better," said embattled coach Paulo Fonseca. "Our current results are not ideal, so we must find the right answers to correct a few things. Our commitment is there, though – we want to pass this test and we will.
"We have no other choice than to enter this game with ambition and a winning spirit. We will not fundamentally change, because I don't feel our tactics were wrong in the first leg. We are here to win. We are prepared – we know what kind of an atmosphere awaits us and how to approach this game."