Ka winner in the game of the century but all chances of perhaps creating the Camp Nou miracle next Thursday. It was 1:1 at the end of a furious, always exciting quarter-final first leg in the Europa League between Eintracht and FC Barcelona. Ansgar Knauff gave the bold Frankfurters the lead with a spirited shot (48 minutes), Ferran Torres equalized (66 minutes).
Eintracht coach Oliver Glasner’s team put in a strong performance, especially as they were outnumbered in the last few minutes after Tuta was sent off (yellow-red/78th). When the draw was perfect, 48,000 spectators left the sold-out arena very satisfied.
The track record is impressive. Of course, the people of Frankfurt know that the seemingly overwhelming FC Barcelona has won the premier class five times. And because the Catalans have also won three world club championships, 26 Spanish championships and 31 national cups, they were the big favorites in this quarter-final. But the Europa League is different from the Champions League. Especially when the opponent’s name is Eintracht. The club in the self-proclaimed heart of Europe that loves this second most important European competition with every fiber and almost regularly surpasses itself. Glasner’s team is also in great shape in the current campaign. So far no game has been lost. Frankfurt loves Europe, and Europe loves Frankfurt.
Football aesthetes love how Barca shine – even without Lionel Messi. For many, Spanish artists are the measure of all things. And for the first meeting in a competitive match, many of the 48,000 spectators in the bulging, completely sold-out arena promised themselves a feast for the eyes. Your expectations were not disappointed. Even the choreography of the fans in the north-west curve made people sit up and take notice. “Only gods will rise again” was written there in huge letters, with Jürgen Grabowski’s face above it. It was a great tribute. A tribute to the greatest of all Eintracht players who recently passed away. Appropriately, thousands of fans waved black flags. Attunement to the cracker against Barca.
When things started on the pitch, it was a full piece of football that was offered from the start. On the Eintracht side with exactly the same eleven players who made up the starting XI in the past few weeks – most recently on Saturday in the zero number in the core Bundesliga game against the Greuther Fürth game association. In the Europa League bonus business and especially this evening against Barcelona, this should be completely different. And indeed: the audience didn’t have to wait long for the first highlights. After just three minutes, Ferran Torres tested Kevin Trapp with a shot from a good 20 meters. The Eintracht keeper did what he has been doing for months: he held up well and avoided a possible deficit with a dive.
The action was like a signal for Eintracht to do the same offensively as Barcelona. It was the carefree Knauff who showed no fear of supposedly big names and simply shot at the goal of Marc-André ter Stegen (5th). Sixty seconds later, Eintracht presented their enthusiastic supporters with a powerful attack, initiated by Djibril Sov. The Swiss didn’t stop with a pass to the right, but sprinted purposefully in the direction of the penalty area and was passed the ball perfectly by Jesper Lindström. A wonderful opportunity But Sow twisted his left hand slightly. What an opportunity!
After that it took a long time before something dangerous happened again in front of the gates. A cross from Knauff could have put Barca in trouble. But ter Stegen grabbed courageously. It got difficult in the 38th minute when referee Srdjan Jovanovic awarded a penalty. Immediately after the Serb’s whistle there were angry protests from the Spaniards, led by captain Sergio Busquets, who brought down Rafael Borré. When the referee was asked by the video referee to take a closer look at the tricky scene on TV, he corrected his decision and took the penalty kick back. Apparently, Busquets should have touched the ball before the demonstrable foul.
When the exciting game continued after the break, it lasted exactly three minutes – then the arena became a madhouse. The 20-year-old Knauff bravely took off with his outside instep from 18 meters – ter Stegen had no chance to defend himself. 1-0 for Eintracht. 1:0 for the supposed David against the Goliath, the five-time premier class winner. As Eintracht coach Glasner said to get in the mood: “We always play to win. Even against a world club.”
Eintracht wanted to let the horses run wild against the artists from the Costa Brava. That’s what the coach wanted, and that’s what she did. Without fear and with a lot of fortune, the team did everything they could to prevent the Spaniards from developing to their full potential. Barca coach Xavi had previously feared: “We weren’t lucky in the draw.” He apparently hadn’t expected such a combative, focused Frankfurt team. But with the fact that Ferran Torres scored the equalizer in the 66th minute. 1: 1 – it remained in the cracker against Barca. Nothing is lost for Eintracht in the fight for the semi-finals and everything is possible.
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