Manuel Veth –
Vaduz vs Eintracht Frankfurt – Thursday, August 8, 19:30BST/20:30CEST – Rheinpark Stadion, Vaduz, Lichtenstein
Although they compete in Switzerland’s second division Challenge League, Lichtenstein-based FC Vaduz will face Eintracht Frankfurt in the third round of the Europa League on Thursday. Similar to the Canadian Major League Soccer teams FC Vaduz are only a guest in Swiss football and have to qualify for UEFA competitions via the Lichtenstein Cup, which the club has won 47 times overall and 12 times in a row.
In fact, the Lichtenstein Cup is the only path for Vaduz to reach Europe. The club cannot qualify for the Champions League as the country has no official championship, which is understandable give that there are only seven clubs with 1,700 active players registered in the tiny country.
Coached by Mario Frick, who has played 125 games for his country Lichtenstein and looks back at a career that included stints in Switzerland (St. Gallen, Basel, Zürich) and Italy (Arezzo, Hellas Verona, Ternana, Siena), Vaduz is perhaps comparable to a bottom-half German third division. Hence, there will be a significant gulph in quality between Bundesliga side Eintracht Frankfurt and a Vaduz side that is currently fifth in the Challenge League after taking four points from the first three games.
“We are the favourites,” Eintracht Frankfurt’s new signing Djibril Sow said to the Frankfurter Rundschau. “But we also have to fulfill that role, for Vaduz this is a once in a lifetime game. They will not let us pass into the next round without a proper fight,” Sow added.
For Eintracht Frankfurt this means that they will face a similar atmosphere than they do in the early rounds of the DFB Pokal. A good test then given that the Eagles will face Waldhof Mannheim on Sunday in the Pokal before hosting Vaduz in the return leg one week from now. A return match that will likely be sold out once again—Frankfurt managed to fill the Waldstadion against FC Flora Tallinn last week.
Next week will already be Frankfurt’s fifth competitive game before the Bundesliga has even kicked off. It has, therefore, been a fine balance for head coach Adi Hütter and his team. On the one hand, Eintracht Frankfurt want to qualify for the group stage, on the other hand the club wants to also prepare for the Bundesliga. On top of that, sporting director Fredi Bobić is still working on putting together a team that lost Luka Jović and Sébastien Haller in the offseason.
On that front there have been some good news. Sebastian Rode rejoined from Dortmund, Martin Hinteregger was resigned from Augsburg last week and Kevin Trapp is on the verge of rejoining the club from Paris Saint-Germain. Trapp might even be available for the game on Thursday, which would give the Eagles another boost ahead of a game that they simply have to win.
Vaduz vs Eintracht Frankfurt – Players to look out for:
Milan Gajić #14 – FC Vaduz
Milan Gajić is FC Vaduz’s playmaker. The 32-year-old is a typical left-footed genius with the ball, with an ability to score from freekicks. “He has played many years in the Swiss Super League and is class and has experience,” former Bundesliga player Thomas Stickroth said to Hessenschau. Hütter will be aware of the danger, however, Gajić after all played for Hütter at Young Boys Bern.
Daichi Kamada #40 – Eintracht Frankfurt
Daichi Kamada is one of the big winners of Eintracht Frankfurt’s preseason. The 23-year-old Japanese playmaker played last season in Belgium for St.Truiden and was once again a candidate for a loan. In Belgium Kamada managed 16 goals and nine assists in 36 games. “Daichi has made a big step forward and has played a great season in Belgium,” Hütter said to kicker this week. “He presents himself differently this year and I liked what I saw against Flora Tallinn. An elegant player, who plays for the team and creates powerplay situations” Hütter added. Kamada will be allowed to further show his skills in the Europa League, in an effort to gain a first team place with the Eagles.
Vaduz vs Eintracht Frankfurt – Match Stats
- The two teams have never faced each other and for both sides.
- For Vaduz this is the first competitive match against a German side.
- The Lichtenstein based club never managed to get beyond the third round of Europa League qualifying.
Futbolgrad Network Prediction:Vaduz vs Eintracht Frankfurt – 0-3
Vaduz vs Eintracht Frankfurt – Lineups
Büchel – Atoniazzi, Simani, Schmid, Dorn – Gajić, Cicek – Göppel, Prokopić – Coulibaly, Sutter
Head Coach: Mario Frick
Trapp (Wiedewald) – Hinteregger, N’Dicka, Hasebe – Kostić, Rode, Kohr, da Costa – Gaćinović – Paciência, Joveljić
Head Coach: Adi Hütter
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and among others contributes to Forbes.com and Pro Soccer USA. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which is available HERE. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.