Eintracht Frankfurt created a sensation on Thursday evening by coming to win at Camp Nou (3-2) largely adorned in white, the colors of the German supporters (between 20 and 30,000) who occupied a large part of the stands. The latter did not wait very long to obtain confirmation of the hope born of the first leg (1-1) since the players of Oliver Glasner, who had announced that they wanted to project themselves into the Catalan camp, managed a start and an almost perfect match.
By putting pressure with four or five players approaching the Barcelona area, Eintracht immediately created the conditions for their first opportunity. When Eric Garcia put his hands on Lindström’s shoulders to the point of unbalancing him in front of his 5.5m, the Portuguese referee did not hesitate to whistle a penalty. And Frankfurt to validate his sudden audacity by opening the scoring, Kostic’s shot taking Ter Stegen on the wrong foot (0-1 sp, 4th).
Eintracht had the right method
In their flat 5-4-1, the German team then reduced the spaces. She replaced herself to defend in a low block, block the depth and the gaps. The centrals had the mission to exit opportunely, to advance on the Barcelona midfielders, thus disrupting the Catalan passing game. Finally, from recovery, rather rare (30% in the first period), the idea was to explode in numbers and aim for depth with very fast pistons, Knauff and Kostic.
Behind the uninspired Barcelonians, the Germans multiplied the opportunities. Before scoring a magnificent goal, by Colombian center-forward Borré, his powerful shot lodged under the bar of Ter Stegen, at the end of a hellish race (0-2, 39th). The knockout was given by the left piston Kostic with a cross shot on the ground close to the post (0-3, 67th), sanctioning the passivity of the Spanish defense and a dream run.
Like his last seven matches in La Liga (1 goal, 9 assists), Ousmane Dembélé was nevertheless very successful in the right lane where he multiplied accelerations, overflows and crosses. The French striker had legs of fire. Frankfurt could never control their speed on the right flank of the Catalan team. After the entry of Adama Traoré, more often contained, the International passed on the left side where he died after several minutes of stoppage of play for a verification by the VAR of a hand in the surface of Gorré ( 59th) just after a monstrous save from Ter Stegen on a shot on target from Lindström (58th).
Busquets reduced the score too late. (900/Cord Press/900/Cord Press)
Dembélé’s services were not converted by Aubameyang. For lack of good timing, the center forward, quite inoffensive, did not frame his head (9th) when the center was ideal. The Gabonese International was no more successful at the start of the second period, failing to resume in the empty goal, at the far post, a new gift from Dembélé (48th). Probably the real turning point of the game.
Barca’s late reaction
Barça had scored 45 goals in 2022. But he was not very inspired in his sequences, his short game and his offensive animation. He did not weigh heavily yesterday against a German team in a state of grace, sometimes very surgical and always united. The second half had long been a one-sided opposition with gaping spaces and the opportunity for Glasner’s men to score every ten minutes. Barça gave the image of a team that is gradually giving up, especially when Busquets’ goal was logically canceled for an offside right foot noticed by the VAR (84th).
German fans began to celebrate their qualification by hailing a huge defensive save from Hinterregger (89th). It was to forget the Spanish offensive power. Busquets gave them cold sweats by deceiving Kevin Trapp with a cross shot before … nine minutes of additional time (1-3, 90th + 1). Madness then took hold of the game. The Catalans had nothing left to lose. Despite an exceptional mind, Frankfurt was approaching exhaustion. And the referee to whistle his second penalty, directly expelling N’Dicka (90th + 10). Memphis Depay transformed him (2-3, 90th + 11) just before the final whistle. Too late to imagine an impossible feat.