FC Barcelona had been riding the crest of a wave in recent weeks, but Eintracht Frankfurt sent them a harsh reality check on Thursday evening. The Catalans came into the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final clash full of optimism but were held to a 1-1 draw.
Eintracht Frankfurt held on to a point despite being reduced to 10 men when Tuta was sent off for a second yellow card in the closing ten minutes of the game. The hosts got off to a fast start, with the first significant chance coming after Sergio Busquets was adjudged to have handed away a penalty. However, VAR demonstrated to the referee that the Barcelona captain had won the ball during play, and the penalty was not awarded.
However, it did not take long for Eintracht Frankfurt to capitalize on another opportunity, with Ansgar Knauff giving them the lead just after the half-time break. The Barcelona defense cleared a corner, but it landed nicely for Knauff, who controlled the ball before putting it past Marc-Andre Ter Stegen.
Xavi has a new signing. Ferran Torres rescued the Catalans’ blushes with an equalizer in the 66th minute, but this was far from the performance that Barcelona had hoped for. The goal was assisted by Frenkie de Jong and Ousmane Dembele, and although Barcelona seemed to have cranked up the tempo following the equalizer, they were unable to find the victory.
Barcelona had been on a roll in recent weeks, and the 4-0 win in El Clasico bolstered their confidence even more. They also managed to overtake Sevilla for second place in La Liga last weekend. They are confident of making it all the way to the Europa League final, but they have been reminded that the league is quite competitive.
The Catalans may no longer be in the Champions League, where they believe they belong, but winning the Europa League is far from certain. They must now settle the score in order to advance to the semi-finals at the Camp Nou on Thursday, April 14.