FC Barcelona have been eliminated from the Europa League after only managing a 1-1 draw in the first-leg in Germany, and losing 2-3 at home at the Camp Nou on Thursday. They bowed out of the competition in front of a crowd that had a surprisingly massive away contingent.
The German team sits in ninth place in the Bundesliga, but they showed impressive strength against the Catalan giants over the two legs of their Europa League quarter-final encounter. They will now advance to the semi-finals to face English side West Ham United after dashing Barcelona’s hopes of lifting a trophy.
Frankfurt dominated from the start, with the opening goal coming after just four minutes thanks to a penalty awarded on account of a mistimed challenge by Eric Garcia. Filip Kostic did not squander the opportunity and shot accurately past Marc-Andre ter Stegen to draw first blood.
Barcelona’s defence proved to be quite vulnerable, and Rafael Borre found a lot of space to double the visitors’ lead with a stunning torpedo in the 36th minute. Around midway through the second half, the Blaugrana found themselves with a massive mountain to climb after Kostic gave Frankfurt a 3-0 advantage on the night by scoring his second goal.
Sergio Busquets had a goal disallowed for offside, but the Barcelona captain finally pulled one back in stoppage time. A lot of injury time was given, and Memphis Depay managed to score a penalty in the 11th minute past regulation. However, not much more could be done as the final whistle was inevitably blown just moments later.
It comes as a big relief for Xavi Hernandez that his club’s La Liga standing has improved by leaps and bounds in recent weeks. Even without the Europa League trophy, they appear to be in a solid position to remain in the Champions League spots for next season.
Meanwhile, there were more unusual scenes at the Camp Nou on Thursday, with the stands noticeably filled with white-clad Frankfurt fans. An estimated hoard of 30,000 Eintracht Frankfurt supporters bore witness to the match, even though only 5,000 away tickets were initially allocated.
As it turns out, many away fans were able to purchase tickets off Barcelona season ticket holders. Others were able to buy them directly off the internet or had locals assist them to gain access to home tickets.
All the areas in the stadium had German fans in them, and it was quite a bizarre sight at the Camp Nou. The club was not able to do anything to control the invasion, and it was made even worse when the visitors conquered the pitch as well. Both club president Joan Laporta and Xavi were shocked by the number of away fans, and have confirmed that the embarrassing situation will be investigated.