5 reasons Eintracht Frankfurt will STILL beat Napoli in the UEFA Champions League last 16
Eintracht Frankfurt won last season's UEFA Europa League and, although they were beaten 2-0 by Napoli in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League last-16 tie, bundesliga.com has found five reasons why they can still be confident of progressing to the next round...
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1) Rafael's redemption
Not only did Frankfurt suffer a two-goal defeat upon the Italian side's visit to the Deutsche Bank Park, but they also had star man Randal Kolo Muani sent off in the second half. The Frenchman is the club's top goalscorer this campaign, and the red card means he will be unavailable for the trip to the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium.
However, one man's loss is another's gain. In the absence of Kolo Muani, Rafael Borre is expected to lead the line from the start, something he has only done once in the Bundesliga since October. All seven appearances in the Champions League have been from the bench, too, but the best performances of his first year in Hessen came in European competition.
He was particularly decisive during the latter stages of last year's triumphant continental run, scoring a stunner against Barcelona at the Camp Nou in the quarter-finals before finding the back of the net in the semi-finals and final against West Ham United and Rangers respectively. In the penalty shoot-out against the Scottish outfit, he dispatched the winning spot-kick and, while victory over Napoli will not guarantee silverware, the Colombian has the opportunity to add to his burgeoning European legacy.
Watch: All of Borre's 2021/22 Bundesliga goals
2) Danger across the attack
Kolo Muani may have often stolen the headlines, but a strong supporting cast has helped him to flourish. Daichi Kamada continues to shine and has 13 goals and five assists to his name in all competitions this term, and is Frankfurt's top scorer in UEFA competition.
Germany's 2024 World Cup-winning hero Mario Götze hasn't been quite as productive, with nine direct goal involvements, but his vision and technical ability in the build-up are vital components of Oliver Glasner's set-up. The arrival of forward-thinking left-back Phillip Max on loan during the January transfer window, meanwhile, is another string to the Frankfurt bow.
Frankfurt have already scored more Bundesliga goals this season (46) than they did throughout the entire previous term - collectively, only Bayern (71), Leipzig (49) and Dortmund (49) have scored more.
3) Frankfurt know their way around Europe
Regardless of the first-leg defeat, most clubs would be delighted with Frankfurt's recent European record. Last season's Europa League success will understandably live long in the memory, and they were only a semi-final penalty shootout defeat to Chelsea away from the 2019 final too.
Incredibly, they were unbeaten throughout their 2021/22 continental journey, and their three losses in the Champions League this campaigns mean they have been beaten in just three of their 20 European matches under Glasner.
Watch: The city of Frankfurt celebrates Eintracht's Europa League triumph
Their away form, in particular, should offer hope - they prevailed in all three knockout matches on the road in the last season's Europa League, while they scored at least once in each group stage clash amongst the elite this time around.
4) Winning margins
Of course, if Frankfurt are to get the better of their opponents on Wednesday, they will need to win by a three-goal margin. On paper, that is a difficult task, but it is something Frankfurt have already achieved five times this season. They started their DFB-Cup journey with a 4-0 hammering of Magdeburg, before inflicting 4-0 and 5-1 defeats on usual high-flyers RB Leipzig and Bayer Leverkusen respectively.
Watch: Highlights of Frankfurt's 4-0 hammering of Leipzig
A pair of 3-0 victories over Schalke and Hertha Berlin were further proof of their ability to run away with matches, and they will look for inspiration from those results in this upcoming match-up.
5) Frankfurt's Italian delight and Napoli's German despair
Given Napoli are 18 points clear at the top of Serie A, it is surely only a matter of time before they are crowned champions for the first time in 33 years. They have also looked irresistible in Europe this season, but their record against German clubs in competitive matches is far from stellar.
Admittedly, the 2-0 first-leg triumph was their third consecutive win on German soil, they could not win any of the 10 before that. In fact, they have won just eight of their 23 fixtures against German opposition and came out on the losing side in both legs of their only previous meeting with Frankfurt in the 1994/95 UEFA Cup Round of 16.
The Hessen-based outfit, meanwhile, have often got the better of Italian opponents, losing just three of their 12 such matches, while they have only lost one out of five matches in the land of the Azzurri.
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