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Having overcome Napoli and Galatasaray in the previous rounds, FC Barcelona’s bid to win the UEFA Cup/Europa League for the very first time continues in the quarter finals with a first-ever meeting with Eintracht Frankfurt. The first leg takes the Catalans to Germany (Thursday at 9.00pm CEST), with the second leg at the Camp Nou seven days later.
Eintracht, meanwhile, are down in ninth in the Bundesliga, having won just three of their eleven games played in 2022. This weekend they were held to a 0-0 draw at home by bottom club Greuther Fürth.
At least on paper, then, Barça have everything in their favour. But as the difficulty seeing off Galatasaray showed in the previous round, European football can be a different matter entirely. Eintracht have overcome Fenerbahçe, Olympiacos, Antwerp and Real Betis to come this far, without losing a game in the process.
Sergiño Dest, Sergi Roberto, Ansu Fati and Samuel Umtiti remain injured, while Memphis has also been forced to drop out the travelling party after straining his left hamstring, and Luuk de Jong is also out after his recent positive test for Covid-19. Also, Dani Alves is ineligible for this competition.
Coach Xavi Hernández insists that it won't be easy, that Eintracht Frankfurt are a physically strong side and that it will pose a different challenge to what they normally face in Spain:
Did you know?
Barça have played no fewer than 18 different teams from Germany in official competitions over the years (including the former East Germany) but surprisingly they have never crossed paths with Eintracht before, other than a couple of friendlies in the 1970s.
Eintracht goalkeeper Kevin Trapp knows all about Barça though. He was in goal for PSG on the day of the famous 6-1 comeback.
Eintracht is the only team left in the Europa League that has won the trophy before. They beat Borussia Mönchengladbach in the 1980 final. Barça is the only club in the quarter finals that is a previous Champions League winner.
In recent times, Eintracht’s best performance in the Europa League was in 2018-19 when they reached the semi-finals, losing on penalties to Chelsea.
This is the fourth time that Eintracht have met a Liga side in the knockout rounds of a UEFA competition, and on the three previous occasions they advanced, against Atlético Madrid (75-76), Deportivo La Coruña (93-94) and Real Betis in the previous round of this year’s edition.
Eintracht have never lost a home fixture in the quarter or semi-finals of a UEFA competition, 16 games in total, a European record.
Barça might have suffered some horror nights against Bayern Munich in recent times, but against other German clubs they are on a 21-match unbeaten run going back to the loss at Bayer Leverkusen in 2001.
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