Europa League: Chelsea a 'class above' but Eintracht Frankfurt are ready, insists Adi Hutter

German side to contest first European semi-final in nearly 40 years against Premier League club

epa07539813 Eintracht Frankfurt's head coach Adi Huetter arrives for a press conference in Frankfurt Main, Germany, 01 May 2019. Eintracht Frankfurt will face Chelsea FC in their UEFA Europa League semi final, first leg soccer match on 02 May 2019.  EPA/ARMANDO BABANI
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Eintracht Frankfurt manager Adi Hutter said his side are the Ajax of the Europa League ahead of Thursday's semi-final, first leg against "favourites" Chelsea.

Frankfurt, currently fourth in the German Bundesliga, have eliminated a number of big clubs en route to a first European semi-final in nearly 40 years, including Marseille, Inter Milan, Shakhtar Donetsk and Benfica.

But Hutter believes his team face another big step up in quality against Maurizio Sarri's Chelsea, who he described as a "class above".

"They are favourites, there is no doubt about it," Hutter during Wednesday's news conference. "We need to do everything right, and play bravely and positively."

The Frankfurt manager said he had a plan to deal with Chelsea, and identified Belgian star Eden Hazard as the biggest threat.

"We will have to try and play him out of the game, because he is one of the three best wingers in the world in my opinion," Hutter said.

Yet he also warned that Chelsea were an Uefa "Champions League level team" who had quality all over the pitch.

"With players like David Luiz, Cesar Azpilicueta, Gonzalo Higuain, they have an unbelievable amount of experience," he said. "We are the most inexperienced team in the semi-finals, but we deserve to be here nonetheless."

Frankfurt have won hearts across Europe with their fearless football and passionate support in the Europa League this season.

"We are like Ajax in the Champions League, nobody expected us to be in the semi-finals ahead of the season," Hetter said. "It has been a long, hard road to get here, and the fans have given us incredible support."

Frankfurt's Serbian midfielder Mijat Gacinovic also said his team were underdogs, but could pull off a surprise on Thursday with the fans behind them.

"I watch a lot of Premier League football on TV and Chelsea are one of the best teams in the world for me," he said. "But with our fans, we can beat anyone."

Gacinovic, 24, is something of a cup specialist. He scored the decisive goal in Frankfurt's German Cup final win over Bayern Munich last season, and has notched up two goals and six assists in this season's Europa League campaign.

The Serbian is expected to start on Thursday, as Croatian attacking midfielder Ante Rebic is serving a one-game suspension.

Frankfurt are also without injured French striker Sebastien Haller, and having won none of their last three Bundesliga games, there are concerns that Hutter's side may be running out of steam.

"We have to be fresh and alert against an opponent like this," Gacinovic said. "The coach always says that everything is in your head, and if you are fresh up there, your body will be fresh too. We won't be tired tomorrow."