Captivating, thrilling, exciting, there are not enough superlatives to describe what went down at the Camp Nou. Eintracht Frankfurt pulled off a massive win to secure passage into the Europa League semi-finals. A pulsating 2-3 second-leg victory ensured that. Talk about audacity, the boys from Germany invaded the home of the Catalans, and they had no answer. Frankfurt beat Barcelona in their first-ever competitive contest at the Spotify Camp Nou.
The Eagles have not lost a game in the Europa League this season. They drew inspiration from their famous 1979/80 UEFA Cup-winning run and were looking to recreate it. In their way was Xavi’s exciting Barcelona team, who came into the tie unbeaten in 15 games across all competitions.
It seemed like an unassailable task, but if there is anything we have learned in European competitions is that nothing is impossible. Frankfurt have never lost to a Spanish club in a two-legged tie, and that confidence countered the intimidating Culers that swarm the Camp Nou.
Frankfurt started the game like a team on a mission, and their early pressure paid off. Referee Artur Soares Dias awarded a penalty within four minutes following a clumsy tackle by Eric Garcia. Filip Kostic smashed home, and it was advantage Frankfurt. It was the fourth penalty the Catalans have conceded in their last two games.
The hosts were shaken. They were down but not out, and they responded strongly. Frankfurt remained solid at the back, but there were warning signs when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang headed narrowly over the crossbar. Frankfurt were rampant in the opening half, always looking to catch Barca on the counter, and it worked a treat. The Camp Nou was stunned into deafening silence when Rafael Santos Borre smashed home a thunderous effort from 25 yards out to make it a resounding 0-2 just over the half-hour mark. The underdogs were pulling off an upset not many people saw coming. They had chances to extend their lead, but it finished 0-2 at halftime.
Xavi knew something had to give. They needed to give the Culers hope that they were still in it. Pedri was pulled off at the break and replaced by Frenkie De Jong, showing Xavi’s desperation. Barca came out of the tunnels raring to go, and Aubameyang was inches away from turning home Ousmane Dembele’s wicked cross across the box.
It was end-to-end stuff. Aubameyang saw another chance go begging, he looked destined to score, but Kevin Trapp smothered his effort. Seconds later Jesper Lindstrom’s exquisite touch saw him sprint into space, but his cleanly struck effort was palmed away by Marc Andre Ter Stegen. He kept them in the tie long enough, but they were getting no joy offensively and were always open at the back.
Barca had to score the next goal if they were going to pull off a comeback, but they did not, and Filip Kostic finished them off. He drilled his shot hard and low past Ter Stegen and boos rang around the stadium from the home faithful.
Sergio Busquests rifled home to spark a potential comeback or was it just a consolation as his goal came in the first minute of the nine added. Memphis Depay smashed home a debatable penalty decision at the end of the nine, but it was too little too late for the Catalans.
It was a nervy finish for Frankfurt. But ultimately, Barcelona were outclassed by an incredible away performance from the Germans, and not many teams can do that, especially in the intimidating Camp Nou. Frankfurt are now unbeaten in their previous ten games against Spanish sides.