Eintracht Frankfurt host Catalan giants Barcelona in the first leg of a Europa League quarter-final on Thursday evening.
Frankfurt got the better of La Liga side Real Betis in the competition’s round of 16 last month, prolonging their European excursions as the bright glimmer in a largely underwhelming debut campaign for coach Oliver Glasner.
Barcelona have navigated their way past two-legged ties against Napoli and Galatasaray already after exiting the Champions League group stage.
Here’s all you need to know about the European tie.
When is kick off? Thursday 7 April, 20:00 (GMT)
Where is the match being played? Frankfurt Stadion
TV channel/live stream? BT Sport Extra (UK), TUDN (US), DAZN (Canada)
Highlights? BT Sport YouTube
Referee? Srdjan Jovanovic
VAR? Pol van Boekel
Frankfurt haven’t been burdened by a great deal of injury concerns since the international break. The lesser-used wingback Christopher Lenz is a doubt with a calf problem while second-choice goalkeeper Diant Ramaj isn’t expected to warm the bench again until mid-April.
The sporadically-used substitute Stefan Ilsanker won’t be able to add to his smattering of minutes this mid-week after being left out of the club’s Europa League squad.
The sight of Ansu Fati cheerily taking to the training pitch is welcome viewing for anyone of a Barcelona persuasion. However, it’s unlikely that Xavi will throw him back into action on Thursday after just 90 minutes of competitive football since the start of November.
Luuk de Jong missed out on Barcelona’s victory against his parent club Sevilla on Sunday with a positive case of COVID-19, putting his mid-week involvement in doubt. Sergi Roberto is yet to return from a lengthy tendon injury.
Frankfurt and Barcelona have never faced each other in a competitive fixture. However, the Catalans did win the most recent friendly between the pair in 1976.
Frankfurt’s first-ever competitive meeting with Spanish opposition was a historic 7-3 defeat against Barcelona’s clasico rivals Real Madrid in the 1960 European Cup final. However, the Eagles haven’t lost to another Spanish club since (W5 D2).
Barcelona have been terrorised by Bayern Munich in recent seasons (losing their last three meetings by an aggregate score of 14-2) but have fared much better against Germany’s other, considerably less formidable, clubs; winning 19 of their 23 European matches against the nation’s non-Bayern sides this century (D4).
Frankfurt prepared for the visit of Barcelona by dropping points in a 0-0 draw at home to the Bundesliga’s basement dwellers Greuther Furth.
However, Frankfurt have fared considerably better against loftier teams, when the onus to win is placed on the opposition, allowing Glasner’s side to sit back and counter-attack. This lives up to the historic perception that they only perform on the big occasions, a reputation which earned the club the nickname Launische Diva, Moody Diva in the 1990s.
With the ageing legs of Sergio Busquets and Gerard Pique, Barcelona can be susceptible in transition. However, Xavi’s side have taken great strides at either end of the pitch since the former midfielder’s return, and may well extend their unbeaten streak to 14 games.
Prediction: Frankfurt 1-2 Barcelona