Eintracht Frankfurt vs Barcelona preview: Team news and predicted line-ups
By Rafael Garrido Reinoso @RGarrido2210
Still submerged in a goal crisis, Eintracht Frankfurt host favorites Barcelona in the Europa League on Thursday evening.
Frankfurt coach Oliver Glasner should be able to field the strongest possible side. Barcelona, on the other hand, will be without the likes of Memphis Depay, Ansu Fati and Sergi Roberto.
The worst part for the Eagles is that they have to face Xavi’s troops in the middle of a weird run, where they can defend well, but they can’t score too many goals.
Kevin Trapp has been the man of the hour lately with some great saves. The Frankfurt goalkeeper is third in saves in the Bundesliga, which is an impressive individual state and denotes why he was called up to Die Mannschaft, but it also shows the man gets shot at a lot.
Despite the good levels shown by the three centre-backs, Frankfurt’s defensive structure suffers more times than not, but it’s a consequence of the team’s bad pressing at passages of the matches.
This allows the opposite team to eliminate defensive lines quite fast, whether it be in Eintracht’s predominant high pressing or in a set defense.
Barcelona excel at this particular aspect of the game and have the perfect players to execute it, having one of the greatest defensive midfielders of history in Sergio Busquets, wonderkid Pedri who more and more looks like a generational talent, along with De Jong, and the two young boys from La Masia Gavi and Nico.
It will be interesting to see how Frankfurt head coach Oliver Glasner handles the defensive aspect. The Eagles almost surely will try to press high to cut down Barcelona’s combinations at the build-up.
They must be very aware as Xavi has worked into the team the automatisms that made his generation so great, with the additions of Dembele, Aubameyang, and Ferran giving the squad the versatility it lacked at the beginning of the season.
Pedri is playing as one of the top midfielders in the world since the beginning of the year, developing into a master in reading the spaces and positioning himself into the right spots.
Since Xavi took him under his wings, Pedri has developed into a bit more vertical player and a protagonist in Barca's game, and on top of that the young Spaniard has started to score goals.
Eintracht have the underhand when it comes to having the numerical advantage in midfield. Kostic and Knauff have to be very aware to close up Barcelona’s midfielders, similar to what they did against Betis to help Sow and Jakic.
Marking Ferran would be key in these moments too, as he has the ability to drop down and link up with the midfield or to cut inside and play as a false 9.
This assuming Glasner does not opt to add an extra midfielder to avoid that numerical disadvantage, but that would mean losing a great creative player in either Kamada or Lindstrøm or the number 9 reference of Santos Borre or Paciencia.
Against Bayern a few months ago, Glasner used a 5-2-3 formation, with two defensive fullbacks in Lenz and Da Costa, and sat on a very low block waiting to counterattack. It could also be a possibility.
Barcelona certainly have pace for days down the wings, with Dembele, Aubemayang, and Adama Traore, meaning Ndicka and Tuta are going to have a tough matchup. Despite this, this Barcelona do have their weak spots.
The defensive transition of the team is not great, they bet on intercepting with the high pressing and relying on Piqué and Araujo to defend the long balls. Some reports say Eric Garcia might come into the side at the expense of Pique.
However, given Kostic's form and the threat he is, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Araujo playing right-back instead of Mingueza or Dest, as Xavi is not fond of them, with Piqué and Garcia as the pair of centre-backs. Araujo is used to the position and has done well there, both for club and country, and is great in one-versus-one situations.
Given Barcelona's recent form, the Eagles need to play one of their best games yet at home and take advantage of every chance they get to hit Ter Stegen's goal to get out alive for the second leg.
More about the match
Trapp and Knauff look ahead to next week at Camp Nou: "Anyone who doesn't believe has no place here."