Gavi (R, #30) and Barcelona are out of the 2021-22 Europa League
Barcelona crashed out of the 2021-22 Europa League after a 3-2 defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt in the second leg of the quarter-finals on Thursday (14 April) at Camp Nou. Despite a late fight from the Blaugrana, the game wasn’t as close as the scoreline would suggest, as the Bundesliga side triumphed 4-3 on aggregate.
The second leg was remarkably similar to the previous meeting, as Barcelona had more of the ball yet Frankfurt had the better chances and more shot attempts. Xavi’s men enjoyed 75 percent possession but Oliver Glasner’s Frankfurt made 15 attempts against the La Liga giants’ 10.
Late drama as Eintracht Frankfurt dump Barcelona out of the Europa League
As in the first leg, Frankfurt were remarkably wasteful and squandered numerous opportunities that came their way on the break. The German side were 3-0 up before Barcelona scored twice in nine minutes of stoppage time to make things interesting.
A brace from Filip Kostic, including an early penalty, and a stunner from Rafael Borre sent Glasner and Co. through to the semi-finals. Sergio Busquets netted a long-range screamer before Memphis Depay scored a penalty with practically the last kick of the game.
On that note, here are five talking points from a dramatic night at Camp Nou:
#5 Eric Garcia dug Barcelona into an early hole
Kostic celebrates after sending Ter Stegen the wrong way
Eintracht Frankfurt got off to a dream start courtesy of a silly mistake from young Spanish centre-back Eric Garcia. The 21 year-old defender committed an unnecessary foul as he wrapped both arms around Jesper Lindstrom and pulled the Danish midfielder down inside the home team’s box.
Referee Artur Dias had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and awarding a penalty. Kostic, who was arguably Frankfurt’s best player in the first leg, sent Marc-Andre ter Stegen the wrong way to open the scoring in the fourth minute.
#4 Rafael Borre doubled the visitors’ advantage with a thunderbolt
Rafael Borre (L) celebrates his stunning strike against the Spanish giants
After Ansgar Knauff’s wondergoal in last week’s 1-1 first leg fixture, Colombian striker Rafael Borre struck with another sensational effort in tonight’s game. As in the previous meeting between the two sides, Frankfurt exploited the space out wide and won the ball back off Ousmane Dembele.
However, Borre still had a lot to do and didn’t appear to have any support as he ran at the Barcelona defense. Instead of holding up play, the 26 year-old unleashed a thunderbolt that gave Ter Stegen no chance as it flew into the top corner.
The goal, which came in the 36th minute, doubled Frankfurt’s advantage and put them firmly in control of the tie.
#3 Eintracht Frankfurt did most of their damage down Barcelona’s right flank as Kostic netted a brace
Ronald Araujo was all at sea against Frankfurt’s counter-attacks
Barcelona’s right flank (or Frankfurt’s left side) made the difference across the two legs. After Ronald Araujo was torn to shreds by Kostic and Daichi Kamada in the first leg, Xavi brought in Oscar Mingueza at right-back for the next game.
It made no difference, though, as Frankfurt targeted the young Spaniard and reaped the rewards. The Bundesliga side scored their second and third goals of the night after attacking down the Spanish side’s right flank.
#2 Bringing in Ousmane Dembele was the right move, but Xavi got a lot wrong as well
Ousmane Dembele was a bright spot against Eintracht Frankfurt
Xavi’s decision to start Adama Traore over Ousmane Dembele in the first leg cost his team. The Blaugrana boss acknowledged the error by slotting the Frenchman into the XI for the second leg and the move immediately paid off.
Dembele was Barcelona‘s best player for most of the game, beating his man with ease and putting dangerous balls into the box. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang should have done better on two occasions as the Gabon international failed to bury Dembele’s delivery.
However, Xavi persisted with a narrow three-man midfield, which proved to be their undoing. Like in the first leg, Eintracht Frankfurt found it too easy to breeze past the trio of Pedri, Gavi and Sergio Busquets, none of whom were particularly quick.
While bringing in Dembele and Mingueza were proactive moves, one can argue that Xavi failed to address his team’s most glaring weakness from the first leg.
#1 Despite the dramatic climax, Barcelona left it far too late
Despite a late rally, it wasn’t to be for the Spanish giants
Barcelona were a real threat in the last 15 minutes of the second leg (including nine minutes of stoppage time). The Spanish giants scored twice and had another Sergio Busquets goal ruled out for offside.
Xavi’s men also forced a red card for Eintracht Frankfurt. Evan Ndicka was sent off for a second bookable offense after fouling Luuk de Jong and giving away a penalty.
The question on the Blaugrana fans’ minds will be: why didn’t the team show that kind of urgency earlier? The La Liga side had over 65 percent possession in both legs yet were far too content with playing around in the middle of the park rather than going direct or taking risks.
Eintracht Frankfurt finished the tie with 31 shots across two games, nearly double Barcelona’s attempts (17). The Bundesliga side will now face West Ham United in the semi-finals of this year’s Europa League.