Two former semi-finalists have been paired together in the round of 16 as Eintracht Frankfurt go head to head for the first time with Basel.
Two former UEFA Europa League semi-finalists have been paired together in the round of 16 as Eintracht Frankfurt, bidding to reach the last four for the second successive season, go head to head for the first time in UEFA competition with Basel.
• Eintracht made it back to the UEFA Europa League knockout phase this term despite losing as many games as they won in the group stage, but they were convincing conquerors of Salzburg in the round of 32, winning the home leg 4-1 and drawing the delayed return fixture 2-2 thanks to two goals from Portuguese striker André Silva.
• Basel clinched qualification for the round of 32 with two games to spare after doing the double over fellow Group C qualifiers Getafe, eventually topping the section with 13 points. It was also plain sailing for the Swiss side in the round of 32 as they beat Cypriot champions APOEL 3-0 away and 1-0 at home.
• Although Frankfurt and Basel have never met in a UEFA match, select XIs from their respective cities did face each other in the group stage of the inaugural Inter-Cities Fairs Cup of 1955–58, each side posting a big home victory as Frankfurt won 5-1 in June 1956 and Basel 6-2 a year later.
• Eintracht are unbeaten at home to Swiss opposition in UEFA matches (W3 D1), although their last such experience was back in 1988, when they beat Grasshoppers 1-0 (also on aggregate) in the European Cup Winners' Cup first round. Frankfurt have won three of their four two-legged ties against Swiss clubs.
• Basel have lost all four of their previous knockout ties against German opponents and have managed just one win in eight visits to Germany (D2 L5), losing their last three matches in the country without scoring, among them a 7-0 defeat by Bayern München in the 2011/12 UEFA Champions League round of 16 that remains the club's heaviest European defeat.
• Frankfurt's 14-match UEFA Europa League adventure in 2018/19 brought memorable knockout phase wins over three teams that had crossed over in mid-season from the UEFA Champions League – Shakhtar Donetsk, Internazionale and Benfica – before they were beaten on penalties in the semi-final by eventual winners Chelsea. That European run was accompanied by a seventh-placed finish in the Bundesliga.
• The 1980 UEFA Cup winners embarked on this UEFA Europa League campaign in the second qualifying round, beating Flora Tallinn, Vaduz and Strasbourg to reach the group stage for the third time. Defeated 3-0 at home by Arsenal on Matchday 1, they recovered to beat Vitória SC away and Standard Liège in Frankfurt, but after posting a famous 2-1 win in north London, they lost at home to Vitória and only just squeezed through as Group F runners-up on nine points – half as many as they amassed last season.
• The win against Salzburg – another opponent that dropped into the competition from the UEFA Champions League – has returned Frankfurt to the round of 16, where they overcame Inter last season (0-0 h, 1-0 a) in their only previous tie at this stage of the competition.
• Eintracht's home record in the UEFA Europa League is W14 D3 L2, with no losses until Arsenal beat them on Matchday 1. They remain undefeated in Frankfurt, however, in the competition's knockout phase (W3 D3).
• Having won the Swiss Super League eight seasons running from 2009/10 to 2016/17, Basel have finished second to Young Boys in each of the past two campaigns. Last season they were eliminated from both the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League in the qualifying phase.
• This season they again missed out on the UEFA Champions League proper, an away-goals success against PSV Eindhoven in the second qualifying round preceding a 5-2 aggregate defeat by LASK. That meant a transfer to the UEFA Europa League group stage, where they opened with a 5-0 home win against Krasnodar, then drew 2-2 at Trabzonspor before beating Getafe 1-0 in Spain and 2-1 in Switzerland to ensure an early qualification.
• Basel's victory against APOEL has taken them into the UEFA Europa League round of 16 for the fourth time. They have won two and lost one of the previous three ties, beating Zenit (2-0 h, 0-1 a) in 2012/13, when they went on to reach the semi-finals, and Salzburg in 2013/14 (0-0 h, 2-1 a), but losing to eventual winners Sevilla (0-0 h, 0-3 a) in 2015/16.
• Winners on the road three times out of four in the 2017/18 UEFA Champions League, when they prevailed at CSKA Moskva, Benfica and Manchester City, Basel have won only three of their nine European away games since (D1 L5). Their overall away record in 11 UEFA Europa League knockout phase games is W2 D4 L5, the sole success prior to last month's win in Nicosia coming at Salzburg in the 2013/14 round of 16.
Links and trivia
• Frankfurt coach Adi Hütter won the Swiss title with Young Boys in 2017/18, the last of his three seasons in Berne, having finished runners-up to Basel in each of the first two. His record in 12 Super League games against Basel was W4 D3 L5.
• Eintracht captain David Abraham is a former Basel player, winning three domestic league titles and two Swiss Cups with the club from 2008–12. His former Basel team-mates include current squad members Valentin Stocker, Fabian Frei and Taulant Xhaka.
• There are two Swiss internationals in the Frankfurt squad – midfielders Gelson Fernandes and Djibril Sow. The former played for Sion in 2013, and the latter won successive Swiss Super Leagues with Young Boys in 2017/18 and 2018/19.
• Basel defender Eray Cömert made his Switzerland debut in their final UEFA EURO 2020 qualifier against Gibraltar alongside Sow, while Basel trio Stocker, Frei and Luca Zuffi are all long-standing Swiss internationals.
• Stocker (Hertha Berlin 2014–18) and Frei (Mainz 2015–18) have both played in Germany, as have their Basel colleagues Zdravko Kuzmanović (VfB Stuttgart 2009–13) and Kemal Ademi (Hoffenheim II 2015–18).
• Frankfurt's Martin Hinteregger and Stefan Ilsanker were both given their international debuts for Austria by Basel coach Marcel Koller and went on to play under him at UEFA EURO 2016.
• Japanese midfielder Daichi Kamada, who scored a hat-trick in Eintracht's round of 32 first-leg win against Salzburg, is the joint leading scorer in this season's UEFA Europa League, group stage to final, with six goals.
• Eintracht's first-leg victory against Salzburg was their 18th in the UEFA Europa League, group stage to final, setting a new record for a German club. They were previously level on 17 wins with Schalke.
• Austrian coach 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. He proved a shrewd acquisition, leading Frankfurt into the semi-finals of the UEFA Europa League and back into Europe via the Bundesliga. 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.
• A former Swiss international midfielder who won 55 caps between 1982 and his first and last major tournament, EURO '96, Koller spent his entire club career with Grasshoppers from his native Zurich, winning seven league titles and five domestic cups. Early Swiss title successes as a coach with St Gallen and Grasshoppers were followed by spells in Germany with Köln and Bochum before he took charge of Austria in 2011, eventually leading them to UEFA EURO 2016. He became Basel's head coach in August 2018, winning the Swiss Cup in his debut campaign.