Former Eintracht Frankfurt forward Jan Age Fjortoft believes that Chelsea "have everything to lose" in Thursday's Europa League clash with the Germans, claiming the Blues defence will be very busy against one of Europe's most potent attacks.
Frankfurt overturned a 4-2 first-leg deficit against Benfica in the quarter-finals to book their place in the semi-finals, while Chelsea recorded a 5-3 aggregate win against Slavia Prague in the last eight. Fjortoft feels that Chelsea's weakness at the back as well as Frankfurt's front three of Luka Jovic, Ante Rebic and Sebastian Haller will give the Bundesliga side a great chance of progressing to the final.
"I know Chelsea will fear them because the three up front and some of the midfielders can score goals," Fjortoft told Goal. "They have shown that, they even showed that against Benfica when they were one man down, they came back and scored twice. They need to be very concentrated. Sometimes when a team are so good going forward, you are not so focused on what they do at the back, but they are quite decent at the back as well. They have a very good balance in the team.
"There are players from 19 different nationalities, so this is a hell of a gang. That's why it's so cool and the good thing about it is that Frankfurt feel they have everything to win and nothing to lose. I heard just this week on TV that it was a great draw for Chelsea, but I don't see it that way. Frankfurt is a tough game for Chelsea because they have everything to lose against them. It's a great position for Frankfurt.
"You see Chelsea conceding goals in the quarter-finals. They conceded a goal out of nothing. The strength of this Frankfurt team is they can score goals anywhere. I think it's quite equal. Of course, Chelsea have great players, but Frankfurt have a great balance in their team."
Fjortoft is a hero at Frankfurt for scoring a last-gasp goal in 1999 to keep the side in the Bundesliga, but he is reluctant to say that his former club can go all the way and lift the trophy. However, he does think Adi Hutter's side have enough ability to defeat Chelsea and then can focus on what comes after that.
"I think they can knock out Chelsea," he admitted. "Then we know there are so many variables, so many small details that will define that.
"They are one of four teams that can win it, that's for sure! That's very diplomatic, but you know when you have those types of teams that play with that enthusiasm. That feeling where you're 4-2 down against Benfica, you just have the feeling that they can win 2-0 and they did. Having a bit of luck, like one decision in that game or Sebastian Rode, the Frankfurt boy on loan from Dortmund, coming back and scoring one of the goals, you have that feeling they can go all the way."
Frankfurt qualified for this year's Europa League after Niko Kovac guided them to last year's DFB Pokal, stunning favourites Bayern Munich in the final. Kovac's side had been a well-drilled machine throughout the campaign, focusing on a strong defence combined with fluid counter-attacking play.
Those performances also earned Kovac a move to Bayern, with Hutter taking up the vacant position. The new head coach has built on Kovac's approach, encouraging a more attacking style which has seen Jovic score eight goals in the Europa League to find himself just behind Chelsea's Olivier Giroud in the race for top scorer.
The Eagles are also competing for fourth position in the Bundesliga table, with Jovic, Rebic and Haller combining for 40 goals in the league. Hutter has not played the trio in every game as he focused on domestic and European football, but regardless of which of them start on Thursday, Fjortoft is confident the Austrian manager's selections will keep Chelsea busy.
"But he has managed to develop Kovac's team. Where Kovac has a disciplined and hard-working team with a great attitude to games and training, he has managed to develop that to be even better going forward. You can see the players, they've got that Kovac-thing in them as well and I have spoken to Hutter a couple of times about football and he is one of those managers who you love getting reward for the way they think about football.
"He has managed to sometimes play all three of the tres amigos and find a system to get all of them in. But some games he'll have Rebic on the bench, and some keep Jovic on the bench. The guy who is playing there all the time is Sebastien Haller who they took from Dutch football.
"A French guy, he's very underestimated because people don't know so much about him. For me, he is that kind of Lewandowski-type of striker that can go deep, can get the ball and play the other players in, he is a brilliant player. He is the key for them going forward. Then you have Rebic who can create something out of his spirit, his body language, he's that kind of player. Then you have Jovic who just scores goals, which is a great habit. I think [Antonio] Rudiger and [David] Luiz will have two busy days."