Barcelona in need of rare European home victory against Frankfurt

Barcelona in need of rare European home victory against Frankfurt

Barcelona in need of rare European home victory against Frankfurt

Credits: AFP

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Barcelona has struggled at home in international play this season, but if they are to reach the Europa League semi-finals, they must beat Eintracht Frankfurt on Thursday at the Camp Nou.

Last week, the Catalans needed a second-half Ferran Torres goal to come from behind and draw 1-1 with Eintracht Frankfurt in Germany in the first leg of their quarter-final, keeping the tie open for the second leg.

Barcelona has only won once at home in Europe this season, a 1-0 victory over Dynamo Kiev in the Champions League group stage.

They have drawn at home to both Napoli and Galatasaray after being relegated to the Europa League, which is the first time they have played in the second tier of a European competition since 2004.

Although there is no longer an away goals advantage, Barcelona’s current form makes them clear favorites to reach the last four, with Xavi Hernandez’s side unbeaten in 15 games, a record that has propelled them back to second place in La Liga.

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That means they are unlikely to have to win the Europa League to return to the Champions League next season, but they still want to finish the season with silverware and are eyeing a place in the final in Seville on May 18.

Eintracht are in mid-table in the Bundesliga and have not won any of their last five matches but they have lost only once to Spanish opposition — against Real Madrid in the 1960 European Cup final.

Whoever emerges victorious at the Camp Nou will play either Lyon or West Ham United in the last four.

Those sides meet in France with their quarter-final tie also finely poised after a 1-1 draw in London, where West Ham held out despite having Aaron Cresswell sent off in the first half.

“We didn’t play well and we can only play much better next week,” said West Ham manager David Moyes after the first leg.

They will be without French international defender Kurt Zouma due to injury for the return against a Lyon side struggling domestically and who have fitness worries of their own.

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Goalkeeper Anthony Lopes and midfield duo Houssem Aouar and Tanguy Ndombele all came off injured playing at the weekend and Lyon would be seriously weakened without that trio.

On the other side of the draw Rangers must overturn a 1-0 first-leg deficit as they play host to Braga at Ibrox, and the winner of that tie will face either Atalanta or RB Leipzig in the semi-finals.

 

Tension

Meanwhile, Leicester City goes to the Netherlands to face PSV Eindhoven in the Europa Conference League hoping to progress to the first European semi-final in their history.

The teams drew 0-0 in England last week and the winner will face either Roma or Bodo/Glimt.

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Jose Mourinho’s side lost 2-1 in Norway last week meaning they have not beaten Bodo/Glimt in three attempts this season.

That match was marred at the end by a scuffle involving Bodo/Glimt coach Kjetil Knutsen and Roma goalkeeping coach Nuno Santos. Both men have been suspended for what could be a tense return leg.

Marseille fans are not expected to travel to Greece for their team’s game against PAOK after violence among supporters marred the first leg in France, which OM won 2-1.

Greek authorities called on UEFA to ban away supporters, although in any case, one leading Marseille fan group had already confirmed they would not attend the return.

 

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Fixtures on Thursday (Kick-offs 1900 GMT unless stated)

Europa League quarter-final second legs *first-leg scores in brackets)

Atalanta (ITA) v RB Leipzig (GER) (1645) (1-1)

Barcelona (ESP) v Eintracht Frankfurt (GER) (1-1)

Lyon (FRA) v West Ham United (ENG) (1-1)

Rangers (SCO) v Braga (POR) (0-1)

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Europa Conference League quarter-final second legs

PSV Eindhoven (NED) v Leicester City (ENG) (1645) (0-0)

Roma (ITA) v Bodo/Glimt (NOR) (1-2)

Slavia Prague (CZE) v Feyenoord (NED) (3-3)

PAOK (GRE) v Marseille (FRA) (1-2)

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