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For the third time out of three, FC Barcelona go into the second leg of a Europa League 2022 fixture after the first game ended in a draw. Following a 1-1 tie with Napoli and a 0-0 deadlock with Galatasaray, the Catalans went on to win both return matches, and now face the same scenario against Eintracht Frankfurt following a 1-1 draw at Deutsche Bank Park seven days ago.
The difference in this case is that the second leg is being played at Camp Nou, where Barça have only been eliminated from Europe on two out of 15 occasions when defending a 1-1 draw away from home.
The prize for the winners is a semi-final against either West Ham or Olympique Lyon, who also drew 1-1 in their first leg in London. On the other side of the draw, RB Leipzig and Atalanta also meet after a 1-1 draw, while Braga go to Glasgow to defend a slender 1-0 lead over Rangers.
Barça come into the game after yet another win in La Liga, 3-2 at Levante, taking their unbeaten run to 15 games, the longest streak in Europe’s big five leagues.
In the meantime, Eintracht suffered another setback at the weekend, 2-1 at home to Freiburg, although their Europa League form is in stark contrast to their flailing performances in the Bundesliga. They have let to lose in nine games played so far, including wins in three of their four road trips, to Antwerp, Olympiacos and Real Betis.
Indeed, the Germans proved to be a very solid opponent in the first leg, taking a 48th minute lead through Ansgar Knauff before Ferran Torres equalised 13 minutes later, and hanging on for a draw despite being reduced to ten men by the sending off of Tuta.
Memphis and Sergiño Dest both return after missing the last few games with fitness concerns. Gerard Piqué came off with a groin problem against Levante on Sunday and is still not feeling 100 per cent, but has been named in the squad in the hope that he might feel better on the day of the match.
Ansu Fati, Sergi Roberto and Samuel Umtiti remain out through injury, while Dani Alves is not eligible for the Europa League
“Eintracht have said it’s the most important game in their history. I had never been to their ground before and the atmosphere surprised me. It was very aggressive, very hostile towards us. We’ll try to match that tomorrow … And I know our fans won’t let us down.”
“I expect a similar game, and we’ll need to be more careful not to give the ball away. Their counter attacks are one of their strengths. Our game in Frankfurt was far from excellent. Our mentality has to be better.”
“It’s also true that the pitch didn’t help in the first leg. But we won’t be able to use that excuse tomorrow.”
"If Dest is in the squad, it’s because he can play. The same goes for Memphis. Gerard, we won’t know until tomorrow. If he’s feeling pain and isn’t 100 per cent then he can’t play in such a demanding game.”
“With Ansu Fati we have to wait until he feels right. Today he did shooting practice and was running well. He needs to feel that’s he’s OK.”
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