The in-form Barcelona, second on the La Liga table, travel to Germany to face Bundesliga’s 9th-placed team, Eintracht Frankfurt, in the first leg of the Europa League quarter-final tie on Thursday at 20:00GMT.
Can Eintracht Extend their Unbeaten Run in the Bundesliga to Four when they Face Barcelona?
After two consecutive draws in the Bundesliga, Eintracht’s hopes for qualification in a European Competition are slipping away as they fall down into mid-table.
Although they are unbeaten in four matches, they will be hoping for an upturn in form when Barcelona visit on Thursday.
With the Spanish side in hot form, Eintracht will be focusing on containing Xavi’s hotshots and not giving them a chance to freely express themselves and cause havoc for the home side.
Can Barcelona Extend their Fine Domestic Form to the Clash with Eintracht Frankfurt?
The renaissance of Barcelona under Xavi continued last weekend when they leapfrogged Atletico Madrid and Sevilla to take second place on goal difference.
Although a La Liga title challenge might be beyond them this season, their brilliant form can be carried into the Europa League, which Xavi has shown signs of taking seriously.
The Blaugrana will be looking to get a good result away from home and take a giant step towards the semi-finals, ahead of the second leg at home next week.
Eintracht have lost just once in their last five outings in the Bundesliga. They have also won twice and drawn twice, which means they have hauled eight points out of the available 15.
This form has seen them fall down the table and move away from Champions League-qualifying places.
During this period, Eintracht also beat Real Betis 3-2 on aggregate, after prevailing 2-1 in Spain and holding them 1-1 at home.
Barcelona have won all 5 matches in La Liga, this run of form has seen the surge on the table to second, having leapfrogged Sevilla and Atletico Madrid. This run also includes a 4-1 triumph against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu.
The Blaugrana also triumphed 2-1 away at Galatasaray, after the Turkish side held them 0-0 at the Camp Nou in their round-of-16 tie.
Eintracht will be without goalkeeper Diant Ramaj; the 20-year-old is recovering from a meniscal injury suffered on February 3rd, 2022. He is a major doubt for the clash with Barcelona.
Left-back Christopher Lenz is also a major injury doubt for Eintracht because of his calf injury. The 27-year-old has been side-lined since March 24th, 2022.
Xavi has a few players missing from his squad ahead of the travelling to Germany. Centre-back Samuel Umtiti fractured his toe on January 17th, and the 28-year-old is expected back in the middle of April.
Right-back Sergino Dest (biceps injury), central midfielder Nico Gonzalez (influenza), and centre-forward Luuk de Jong (coronavirus), are all doubts for the clash with Eintracht on Thursday.
Possible Starting Lineups
Trapp; Tuta, M. Hasebe, N. Ndicka; A. Knauff, D. Sow, K. Jakic, D. Kamada, F. Kostic; J. Lindstrom, R. S. B. Maury
ter Stegen; D. ALves, R. Araujo, G. Pique, J. Alba; F. de Jong, S. Busquets, Pedri; O. Dembele, P. Aubameyang, F. Torres
Players to Watch
Rafael Santos Borré
The Colombian professional has 8 goals and 5 assists in 36 appearances for Eintracht this season. The 26-year-old is a crucial cog for Eintracht as they seek to finish as high as possible on the Bundesliga table.
Borré has also been crucial for Eintracht’s progression in the Europa League to the quarter-final stage. This underscores his importance in the clash with Barcelona on Thursday.
After Xavi brought him back from the cold, and having gotten rid of his injury woes, Dembele has been in fine form for the Blaugrana.
The French national’s natural pace and wicked left foot have been crucial tools for Barcelona as they have surged in the La Liga table. He will be a crucial player for Barcelona as they seek to take a positive result from the away leg in Germany on Thursday.
Expect Barcelona to dominate possession with their trademark slow build-up from the back and patient probing.
Eintracht will be pragmatic and compact in their approach, looking to use the counter-attacking opportunities and set pieces as their core avenues to get a goal against Barcelona.
Barcelona are favoured to win this match and take a huge step towards the semi-finals stage.
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