Barcelona shell-shocked by Eintracht Frankfurt, bid goodbye to silverware

Barcelona 2-3 Eintracht Frankfurt (3-4 on aggregate)

There had been rumblings about a German invasion in the build-up to this match, with figures and estimates surrounding the number fans arriving in Catalonia.

Whether they outnumbered Barcelona fans in the stands or not, the feeling was that they did. They were louder, more boisterous and more at home than Barcelona.

The same was true on the pitch. Oliver Glasner’s side raced out the traps and after just two minutes, Eric Garcia had pulled over Jesper Lindstrom in his panic in the box. Filip Kostic whipped the penalty away and that set the tone.

Barcelona never managed to settle, made to feel uncomfortable by the suffocating and brilliantly choreographed Frankfurt press. That manifested again in the 37th minute, when Oscar Mingueza couldn’t see a way forward – soon he couldn’t see a way out – then Eintracht pounced. Rafael Santos Borre was given the ball to drive at the defence, with options out to his right though, he took the wrong decision. Shooting from 30 yards out, Borre unleashed a venomous drive that crashed into the net – his teammates had barely finished expressing their frustration before they had to switch to delight.

At half-time it seemed as if nothing more could go wrong for Barcelona. Then Pedri went off, replaced by Frenkie de Jong after a muscle injury.

The early stages of the second half showed some promise, as Ousmane Dembele found a way around the Eintracht blanket of players. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang couldn’t convert one of his crosses from close range in the great ‘what if’ moment for cules.

Yet as time went on, Eintracht continued to make fantastic tackles and ran harder and faster than Barcelona could. Slowly defenders went off and Xavi Hernandez sent more forwards jogging on. With 23 minutes to go, Kostic was given the ball on the left and finished expertly just inside the right-hand post. They and their many thousands of fans had a degree of comfort. The merriment lost any trace of nerves.

Barcelona finally stretched the Frankfurt defence in the final 10 minutes, which resulted in a Sergio Busquets goal being disallowed for offside. Letting go of no little frustration, Busquets promptly thumped a bouncing ball into the corner minutes later.

Ronald Araujo had a late chance but his header went too wide and when Evan Ndicka was sent off for a challenge on Luuk de Jong, Memphis Depay’s penalty was too late.

Xavi Hernandez has done some miraculous work at Barcelona, but watched much of it evaporate before his eyes this evening. Barcelona face a tough task of recuperating what progress they can. Eintracht and their fans go off into the night, ecstatic with the territory conquered.


Tags Barcelona Eintracht Frankfurt Europa League
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