Barcelona VS Eintracht Frankfurt – LIVE Reddit Soccer 14/4/2022
The UEFA Europa League is set to enter its penultimate stage later this month. But before then, the four semi-finalists need to be identified, which will be done on Thursday. Barcelona will aim to be one of the qualifiers when they play hosts to Eintracht Frankfurt in the second leg of their quarter-final at Camp Nou. Barcelona took the scenic route to the UEFA Europa League knockout stages, finishing third in the UEFA Champions League Group E. The Blaugrana then had to get past Napoli to reach the Round of 16 in the Europa League before scraping past Galatasaray. As for Eintracht Frankfurt, Die Adler finished atop Group D before narrowly beating Real Betis in the Last 16 to set up the Barcelona date.
As for recent form, Barcelona’s splendid resurgence under Xavi Hernandez has been showing no signs of letting up. The Blaugrana last lost a game nearly three months ago, and they come into the game on the back of a come-from-behind 3-2 win over Levante that showed their character. On the other hand, Eintracht Frankfurt’s unbeaten run had extended for over a month, with Die Adler winning four games while playing out four draws before it ended with a 2-1 defeat to SC Freiburg last weekend. Nonetheless, the largely positive run of results has kept Oliver Glasner’s men in contention to clinch European qualification while taking them to the Europa League quarter-finals.
Barcelona and Eintracht Frankfurt played out a 1-1 draw in the first leg last week, with Ferran Torres scoring a 66th-minute equaliser after Ansgar Knauff had put Frankfurt in front. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter. Xavi Hernandez has been handed a double boost on the team news front ahead of the visit of Eintracht Frankfurt for the UEFA Europa League quarter-final second leg. On Thursday, the Barcelona boss will be bereft of the services of five first-team players.
The good news is that Memphis Depay and Sergino Dest are back in the matchday unit after recovering from their respective injuries. Xavi has also named Gerard Pique in the squad, but the veteran defender will unlikely be fit enough to take on Eintracht Frankfurt.
Samuel Umtiti (foot), Sergi Roberto (knee), and Ansu Fati (match fitness) remain on the sidelines, while Dani Alves is ineligible to play in the Europa League. In Alves’s absence, Dest could have a chance to return to the starting eleven straight away. But Ronald Araujo could get the nod at right-back after some impressive performances in the position.
With Pique unlikely to play, Clement Lenglet should retain his spot at the heart of the Barcelona defence, with Eric Garcia his central defensive partner. Jordi Alba will complete the defensive unit, which will cover Marc-Andre ter Stegen in the Barcelona goal.
Up ahead in midfield, Xavi Hernandez will likely stick with his strongest partnership, meaning Gavi will be on the bench. Pedri and Frenkie de Jong will be Barcelona’s creative midfielders against Eintracht Frankfurt, with Sergio Busquets sitting at the base and reprising the anchor role.
Ferran Torres has been in scintillating form lately and should start on the left flank, with the in-form Ousmane Dembele taking his place on the right wing. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang should spearhead the Barcelona attack against Eintracht Frankfurt, with Luuk de Jong being an impact substitute.
One would typically expect one of Barcelona’s famed attacking names to come up with the finish that Ansgar Knauff did in the first leg last week, but it was the Frankfurt man who stunned the Blaugrana with a peach of a half-volley from outside the area with 48 minutes gone.
The 10 men of Frankfurt could and should have chalked up more than just the one goal on the night, and that lack of ruthlessness allowed Barcelona a route back into the game, which they took through Ferran Torres after a lovely team move involving substitutes Frenkie De Jong and Ousmane Dembele.
Being held to a 1-1 stalemate by a Frankfurt side who had previously struggled for any sort of attacking impetus was a slight hit to the Barcelona momentum under Xavi, whose side were on the brink of dropping points against Levante before an unlikely name in Luuk de Jong saved their bacon in stoppage time for a 3-2 win.
Now unbeaten in 15 matches across all competitions – a stark contrast to the forgettable days of the Ronald Koeman era – Barcelona have only been eliminated in one of their last six European ties when avoiding defeat in the first leg, and it is difficult to imagine how Frankfurt’s plethora of missed opportunities will not begin to haunt them.
La Blaugrana are also welcoming Frankfurt to a ground where they have kept four clean sheets on the spin since that 1-1 draw with Napoli in the last-32 stage back in February, and now would be as good a time as ever to claim their first Europa League win on home soil since 2004.
It was a sense of deja vu for Frankfurt in the first leg after they were previously held to a 1-1 draw at home in the last-16 by Spanish opposition in Real Betis, but seeing a seven-game unbeaten run in all competitions come to an end at the weekend was not ideal preparation for a trip to Catalonia.
Going 1-0 down and losing midfield enforcer Djibril Sow to injury represented a dismal first half for Frankfurt against Freiburg, and while they did respond to Vincenzo Grifo’s opener through Filip Kostic, Nils Petersen completed the job for Freiburg in the 69th minute.
Oliver Glasner’s side held the label of resident draw specialists before suffering that 2-1 loss to Freiburg, and it is now five games without a win domestically and continentally for Die Adler, who are facing an uphill struggle to match their semi-final finish in the 2018-19 Europa League.
The bulk of Frankfurt’s matches in their recent winless run have come at the Deutsche Bank Park, though, with the Bundesliga club claiming three wins from four away from home in the 2021-22 Europa League so far, and they need no lessons in carving their way through the Barcelona backline.
Thursday’s second leg will mark Frankfurt’s first-ever trip to Camp Nou for a competitive clash, and while Die Adler have strung together a nine-game unbeaten run against Spanish sides, Barcelona have lost twice at home in 16 meetings with clubs from the Bundesliga.