In the return leg of the UEFA Europa League quarter-final, Eintracht Frankfurt unexpectedly defeated Barcelona and knocked the Blues out of the European cup. Even the home ground did not help Xavi’s side.
In the first match against Eintracht Frankfurt, Barcelona narrowly secured a 1-1 draw thanks to the Ferran Torres goal. But they were still regarded as clear favourites to win the return leg at the Camp Nou. Incidentally, bookmaker Betway South Africa also rated the German club as outsiders in the semi-final, paired with West Ham London. However, things went wrong for Barcelona in the encounter at Camp Nou even before the starting whistle.
A huge force of around 50,000 German fans arrived in Barcelona. They marched through the city. The visitor quota of 5,000 tickets was bought out at once. But it was the Easter weekend in Catalonia, and many people left the city, so the seats in the home stands were vacated.
As a result, the Camp Nou was half-filled with Frankfurt fans, and Barca players were booed at the warm-up, which was not the most pleasant atmosphere.
The match did not start in the best possible way for Xavi’s team either – as early as the third minute Garcia brought down Lindström in his penalty area and Kostic confidently converted the spot-kick to make it 1-0. There were enough German fans at the stadium in the Catalan capital so Eintracht’s goal was greeted with applause. Incidentally, it was the fourth penalty against the Blues-Grenadines in the last 45 minutes of game time, as in the La Liga match Levante had hit Ter Stegen three times from the spot.
Barça conceded a second one before the break as Santos Borre fired a shot from 25 metres just under the crossbar. No chance for Ter Stegen. The Catalans urgently need to do something about conceded goals from outside the box – eight this season, their highest figure since the 2005/06 season.
Xavi’s men could have gone into the second half with a full-blown upset – fortunately for them, Eintracht missed several goalscoring opportunities. The second half was no different from the first – the visitors created a lot of chances, one of which was converted when Kostic sealed the brace.
Barça came storming back in the closing stages but ran out of time. One of Busquets’ goals was cancelled out because of offside, while the second one – a long-range shot – had already been converted. In the ninth minute, a penalty was awarded, but the final score of 3-2 put the Eagles through to the semi-finals.
For Xavi’s side, it is their first defeat in 16 recent matches, breaking the longest unbeaten streak in European football. This is not the first time Barcelona have conceded a goal against a German side – FC Bayern dominated at the Camp Nou in September. Despite the Catalans’ problems in 2021, no one has scored three away goals against Barcelona this season, apart from the German clubs.
In the Bundesliga, Eintracht are not doing so well. The team is in ninth place, recently they lost at home to Freiburg (1-2). Before that, they failed to score a single goal against Greuter Fürth (they conceded 72 goals, sitting in last place by this indicator), lost at home to hardly scoring Arminia, and to Wolfsburg which was floundering at the bottom of the table.
Even so, the Frankfurt side is still in contention for the prestigious trophy as they face a semi-final against West Ham. Many expected the trophy to go to Xavi’s team in 2022, Barça were considered the main favourites for the Europa League. Now the only tournament in which the Blues continue to struggle to win is La Liga, where a fight against Real Madrid looks almost an impossible task.