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Eintracht Frankfurt have the weapons to hurt West Ham in their Europa League semi-final

West Ham fans could have been forgiven for looking forward to a mouthwatering clash with Spanish giants Barcelona in the semi-finals of the Europa League.

But the travelling Hammers supporters will be forced to swap dreams of beers in Barcelona for frankfurters in Frankfurt following the German side’s stunning win over the Catalan club in the quarter-finals. 

West Ham are due to host Eintracht Frankfurt in the first leg at the London Stadium on Thursday, and the build-up to the clash has already turned sour.

There has been a row over tickets following a threat from West Ham to ban any supporter found to have sold their seat to an away fan after an estimated 30,000 Frankfurt backers took over Camp Nou.

Eintracht Frankfurt reached the semi-finals after stunning <a href=Barcelona at Camp Nou” class=”blkBorder img-share” style=”max-width:100%” />

Eintracht Frankfurt reached the semi-finals after stunning Barcelona at Camp Nou

An estimated 30,000 Frankfurt fans were inside the stadium when they beat <a href=Barcelona 3-2″ class=”blkBorder img-share” style=”max-width:100%” />

An estimated 30,000 Frankfurt fans were inside the stadium when they beat Barcelona 3-2

Frankfurt have had a disappointing campaign in the Bundesliga after finishing fifth last season

Frankfurt have had a disappointing campaign in the Bundesliga after finishing fifth last season

An article on the Bundesliga outfit’s official website, which said the Premier League side were ‘a club in the shadow of the London heavyweights enjoying a recent boom’, has also sparked controversy.

But what about Frankfurt on the pitch? Who are their danger men and how did they get this far? Here, Sportsmail gives the lowdown on the team standing in West Ham’s way of a European final.

 Recent form

Judging by their Bundesliga record this season, Oliver Glasner’s side are clearly putting all of their eggs in the Europa League basket.

Frankfurt arrive in London having won only one of their last nine matches in all competitions – the 3-2 victory against Barcelona in the second leg of the quarter-final.

Frankfurt drew 2-2 with Hoffenheim in their last Bundesliga outing before the semi-final

Frankfurt drew 2-2 with Hoffenheim in their last Bundesliga outing before the semi-final

Their last win outside of European competition came when they beat VfL Bochum 2-1 on March 13, where they had to come from behind to claim all three points. 

Since the Camp Nou triumph, Frankfurt have failed to win having suffered defeat to  Union Berlin and drawn at home with Hoffenheim.

The Hoffenheim stalemate on Saturday all-but mathematically ended Frankfurt’s hopes of finishing in the top seven of the Bundesliga this season, further increasing the club’s focus on the Europa League – their only avenue back into Europe for 2022-23.

Glasner’s men are ninth in the Bundesliga and have the fourth-worst home record in the entire division. Deutsche Bank Park has not been a happy place for Frankfurt during the current league campaign as they have won just four games out of 16 on their own patch.

It has been a different story in the Europa League as they have gone unbeaten en route to the last four.

Managerial experience

Glasner may not be a household name in Europe but he has forged a decent reputation in Germany.

Having started his managerial career in Austria, the 47-year-old joined Wolfsburg in 2019 and guided the club into the Champions League in his second season in charge.

Oliver Glasner has led Frankfurt since joining from fellow Bundesliga side Wolfsburg last year

Oliver Glasner has led Frankfurt since joining from fellow Bundesliga side Wolfsburg last year

Frankfurt have struggled in the Bundesliga under the 47-year-old Austrian manager

Frankfurt have struggled in the Bundesliga under the 47-year-old Austrian manager

Glasner's side have saved their best performances this season for the Europa League

Glasner’s side have saved their best performances this season for the Europa League

Glasner made the switch to Frankfurt in May of last year, signing a three-year deal to succeed Adi Hutter after he left to join Borussia Monchengladbach.

Known for a cautious approach, the Austrian has struggled on the domestic front, with a shock first-round exit to third-tier Waldhof Mannheim in the German Cup adding to their Bundesliga woes.

He made a troubled start at the club as they were languishing close to the relegation zone in November. They waited until October for their first Bundesliga win of the season, although that was an impressive 2-1 victory away at Bayern Munich, who were recently crowned as champions. 

Glasner and his team have saved their best form for Europe as they target a first continental trophy since they lifted the UEFA Cup – the previous guise of the Europa League – in 1980.

‘Intensive preparation for this semi-final is now under way. Now there is no fatigue; now there’s joy, now there’s excitement. Now it’s on to the finals!’ Glasner said this week.

Danger men

While Frankfurt’s hopes of progressing past West Ham have been dealt a blow by the absence of star defender Evan Ndicka for the first leg in London, the Bundesliga side still possess several players who could cause David Moyes’ team problems in the tie.

Evan Ndicka (right) will be missing in the first leg of the semi-final through suspension

Evan Ndicka (right) will be missing in the first leg of the semi-final through suspension

Serbian winger Filip Kostic has been their star in Europe this season, registering a tournament-high five assists, while he also bagged two of their three goals in the Camp Nou.

The 29-year-old has seven goals and 14 assists in 37 appearances in all competitions, and will surely provide a test to West Ham’s back line.

Football statistics website FBref also has him down as the best Bundesliga player in his position when it comes to supplying shot-creating actions – defined as an action which leads to a shot such as key passes, winning set-pieces and offensive duels.

Serbian Filip Kostic has registered the most assists of any player in the Europa League

Serbian Filip Kostic has registered the most assists of any player in the Europa League

Rafael Borre scored a memorable strike in the 3-2 win over <a href=Barcelona earlier this month” class=”blkBorder img-share” style=”max-width:100%” />

Rafael Borre scored a memorable strike in the 3-2 win over Barcelona earlier this month

The Colombian forward beat <a href=Barcelona keeper Marc-André ter Stegen from distance” class=”blkBorder img-share” style=”max-width:100%” />

The Colombian forward beat Barcelona keeper Marc-André ter Stegen from distance

Rafael Borre, who scored a memorable goal in Barcelona, is expected to spearhead Frankfurt’s attack in the West Ham clash. The Colombian has nine goals this campaign and will be aiming to take advantage of the Hammers’ injury crisis in defence to fire his team into the final.

Promising youngster Jesper Lindstrom will also be one to watch out for. The 22-year-old Danish international has drawn comparisons to Germany legend Thomas Muller with a string of impressive displays since signing for the club from Brondby for a reported fee of around £5.5million in July.

At the back, Martin Hinteregger will be tasked with leading Frankfurt’s defensive effort alongside goalkeeper Kevin Trapp, who has been one of their standout performers in the Europa League.

 How they got here

Frankfurt, who qualified for the Europa League by virtue of finishing fifth in the 2020-21 Bundesliga campaign, sailed through the group stage with 12 points in a section that also included Olympiacos, Fenerbahce and Antwerp.

Danish youngster Jesper Lindstrom has drawn comparisons with Thomas Muller this season

Danish youngster Jesper Lindstrom has drawn comparisons with Thomas Muller this season

Frankfurt could pose David Moyes' side with several problems in the Europa League clash

Frankfurt could pose David Moyes’ side with several problems in the Europa League clash

Topping their group earned them an automatic spot in the last 16, where they saw off Real Betis thanks to an own goal in the last minute of extra time in the second leg.

Victory over Betis set up an intriguing encounter with another La Liga outfit in Xavi’s Barcelona, who had been the favourites to lift the Europa League trophy in Seville on May 18.

That was until they came up against Frankfurt, who took a creditable 1-1 draw over to Spain for the second leg. There they turned in one of the all-time European performances, racing into a three-goal lead thanks to Kostic and Borre’s stunner before Barcelona mounted a late comeback – but to no avail.

The warning signs are there for West Ham. Frankfurt won both of their away legs in the knockout rounds and are unbeaten in their 10 matches in the competition this season.

Awaiting the winners of the fascinating Frankfurt-West Ham tie are either Rangers or fellow Bundesliga side RB Leipzig, who lock horns in the other semi-final.

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