Eintracht Frankfurt’s bid to hinder Barcelona’s quest to win the only major European trophy missing from their rich collection will be severely tested at Camp Nou.
Frankfurt went toe-to-toe with Barcelona in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final tie in Germany, but they could only manage a 1-1 draw eventually.
Borussia Dortmund loanee Ansgar Knauff opened the scoring with a sensational half-volley from outside the box before Ferran Torres levelled the score to give both teams all to play for in Spain.
Barca left it late to beat La Liga relegation contenders Levante 3-2 at the weekend and take their unbeaten run in competitive action to a staggering 15 matches (W11, D4).
It means Frankfurt, who lost 2-1 at home to Freiburg on Sunday, will be out to arrest the longest undefeated run in Europe’s top-five leagues on Thursday evening.
Barcelona’s first failed attempt to qualify for the Champions League knock-outs in 18 years has triggered a chain reaction that has re-established the Catalan powerhouse as a force to be reckoned with.
Xavi’s men have brought a three-game losing European run against German opposition to a halt at the Deutsche Bank Park last time out, though it’s worth noting that those three reverses all came to Bayern Munich.
The Blaugrana have racked up 20 victories from their 29 European meetings with Bundesliga clubs at home, including the last 17 on the trot against Bundesliga sides other than Bayern.
With the league title out of of their hand and the Clasico in the rear-view mirror, Barcelona’s schedule is relatively straightforward, leaving them with the Europa League (and a second-place finish in the league) as their primary target this season.
Die Adler will take the field amid a rough patch, having gone winless in their last six competitive outings (D4, L2), netting a measly average of 0.5 goals per game in this run.
However, the Germans have gone unbeaten in eight consecutive European fixtures against Spanish clubs (W5, D3) since a dismal 7-3 defeat to Real Madrid in 1960.
Moreover, Frankfurt have won three of their last four visits to Spain, while they remain undefeated in all three competitive away matches since the start of March (W2, D1).
As reported by the Evening Standard, Barcelona’s defensive stalwart Gerard Pique could recover in time to face the German visitors after sitting out his side’s league triumph over Levante on Sunday.
But, Xavi will be without unregistered Dani Alves and long-term absentees Sergi Roberto, Samuel Umtiti and Ansu Fati.
Travelling Frankfurt will have suspended Tuta and injured Diant Ramaj unavailable for selection, with Christopher Lenz still a doubt.
Barcelona Potential Starting XI
(4-3-3): Marc-Andre ter Stegen; Ronald Araujo, Clement Lenglet, Eric Garcia, Jordi Alba; Gavi, Sergio Busquets, Frenkie de Jong; Ousmane Dembele, Pierre-Emerik Aubameyang, Ferran Torres.
Eintracht Frankfurt Potential Starting XI
(3-4-3): Kevin Trapp; Martin Hinteregger, Makoto Hasebe, Evan Ndicka; Ansgar Knauff, Kristijan Jakic, Sebastian Rode, Filip Kostic; Jesper Lindstrom, Rafael Santos Borre, Daichi Kamada.
Barcelona vs Eintracht Frankfurt Prediction
Barcelona will be backing themselves to capitalise on their rich vein of form and crash out an out-of-sorts Frankfurt side to get a step closer to winning their first-ever Europa League crown.
Oliver Glasner’s men exceeded all expectations in the first leg, but we expect them to collapse at one of the notoriously most intimidating stadiums to win at in Europe.
All in all, this should be an exciting game of football and a must-stream Europa League match for Thursday night.
Barcelona 3-1 Eintracht Frankfurt
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