Paciencia the trump card as Frankfurt plot comeback
Eintracht Frankfurt are banking on their Portuguese striker Goncalo Paciencia to help them upset the odds against Benfica in their Europa League quarter-final second leg on Thursday.
Frankfurt's European hopes are hanging by a thread after they suffered a 4-2 defeat in Lisbon last week, and coach Adi Huetter said on Wednesday that his team would need to play a "perfect game" in the return leg if they are to secure the club's first European semi-final in 39 years.
"We need to score goals but we also need to be controlled when we go forward, and play with patience," said the Austrian coach on Wednesday.
Aptly named Portuguese forward Paciencia could help in that regard.
The 24-year-old, whose younger brother plays for Benfica's second team, has been the ace up Frankfurt's sleeve in recent weeks.
He kept his side in the quarter-final tie with a looping header in Lisbon, and he is convinced that his side can beat Benfica by two clear goals to reach the semi-finals.
"It is going to be a challenge for both teams, and we will need to start the game well," said Paciencia after Frankfurt's league defeat by Augsburg on Sunday.
"We can definitely make up the two-goal deficit."
Paciencia has had to live up to his name at Frankfurt this season, having struggled with injury since his 3-million-euro ($3.4m) move from Benfica's domestic rivals Porto last summer.
Out injured for much of the season, Paciencia made his Bundesliga debut in February and has scored three goals in his last six league games.
- Aerial specialist -
Though he has largely operated in the shadow of Real Madrid and Barcelona target Luka Jovic, the Portuguese has played a bigger role in the last few weeks as a stand-in for French striker Sebastien Haller.
An aerial specialist, all of Paciencia's goals have been headers, including his opener in Sunday's loss.
Yet against his compatriots on Thursday, he hopes to show a different side to his game.
"I want to show that I can also score with my feet," he said.
Thursday's clash is something of a family affair for Paciencia, yet the Portuguese striker said that there was no question about his brother's allegiances.
"Of course he's on my side, he's my brother," he said.
Paciencia will also be able to count on the increasingly famous support of Frankfurt's passionate fanbase.
"The atmosphere in our stadium is well-known in Germany and across Europe, and we need to use that positive energy," said captain Gelson Fernandes on Wednesday.
Midfielder Sebastian Rode, meanwhile, warned his teammates to "keep a cool head".
Luckily, in Paciencia, Frankfurt can count on one of the coolest heads in the Bundesliga at the moment.
The chips may be down, but Frankfurt hope that the Portuguese and his headers can be their trump card against Benfica.
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