There is more than one reason Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang might be frustrated when Barcelona welcome Eintracht Frankfurt to Spain. - © IMAGO / ULMER Pressebildagentur
There is more than one reason Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang might be frustrated when Barcelona welcome Eintracht Frankfurt to Spain. - © IMAGO / ULMER Pressebildagentur

5 reasons Eintracht Frankfurt will beat Barcelona in the UEFA Europa League


There is more than one reason Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang might be frustrated when Barcelona welcome Eintracht Frankfurt to Spain.

>> Click here for the Frankfurt-Barcelona LIVE blog!

1) Suited to Barca's style

Frankfurt had over a quarter of a million requests for tickets for the game, and a capacity crowd of 48,500 roused their side to a fine first leg performance. Coach Oliver Glasner acknowledged before the meeting in Germany that his team are outsiders, but also pointed out the way Xavi Hernandez's men try to dominate games will suit his counter-attacking side.

That proved the case at the Deutsche Bank Park, where Frankfurt menaced time and again with rapid breaks as Die Adler thrilled during a pulsating first 90 minutes of the tie. It is a style that should serve them well at the Camp Nou, too, especially for a team that has actually been a much better side on the road this season.

They boast the fifth-best away record in the Bundesliga - and second-best of the nine teams to have played 14 away matches, compared to 15 for the other half of the league - having picked up 22 of their 39 points on their travels. In the Europa League, meanwhile, they have scored three wins in four away matches, and just one victory in as many appearances at home.

"We're underdogs, but we're going to get more room. That will make things easier for us," explained the former Wolfsburg boss, who is in his first season in Frankfurt. "We're going to play to win, even against the great Barcelona."

2) Assist-king Kostic

"On the left side, he's one of the best assisters in the Bundesliga, perhaps even in Europe. Everything he does makes sense." Germany coach Hansi Flick, who said that last season when he was in charge of Bayern Munich, is a fan of Filip Kostic.

The Serbia international signed for Eintracht in 2018 and had been expected to end his stay at the club last summer. Frankfurt fans will be delighted he didn't.

Only five players — and not one from outside the top four teams in the Bundesliga table — boast more than the eight assists Kostic has provided in his 26 top-flight outings this term.

The 29-year-old started the European campaign slowly, but has certainly turned up the gas by contributing to a goal in four of his last five Europa League appearances, scoring once and teeing up a further three. Kostic also prepared for the trip to Barcelona by scoring against Freiburg at the weekend.

"It's great for me, and I always want to give everything back when I'm on the pitch," said Kostic of being a Frankfurt fan favourite. "When we win a game, it's always great for us, the fans and the whole city." So what will the party be like when you beat Barcelona, Filip?

3) Late drama masters

Frankfurt joined Lyon, Monaco and Galatasaray as the only clubs to go through the group stage unbeaten, and Glasner's side picked up crucial points in the dying seconds of games.

A Goncalo Paciencia penalty a minute into added time earned them a 1-0 victory at Antwerp — their first victory of the group stage — and the Portugal international struck even later in the return game to snatch a point.

Gonzalo Paciencia (r.) has scored some decisive late goals for Frankfurt in this season's Europa League. - Alex Grimm/Getty Images

Jens Petter Hauge's match-winning goal two minutes into added time at Olympiacos was another defining moment of the group stage, and it was a healthy habit the Eagles continued in the knockout stage: Guido Rodriguez's own-goal in the dying embers of extra-time in the last 16 propelled Frankfurt through at Real Betis' expense.

"I’ll say a little bluntly and provocatively: if you can progress against the fifth-placed team in the Spanish league, you can do the same against the team who are third," said Glasner after that triumph. Well, Barca are now second, but point taken Oliver.

4) On their day...

It has not been the most consistent of seasons for Frankfurt, but they have shown that — over 90 minutes — they can match, and even beat, anyone.

That was most obviously true on Matchday 7 when they came into their game with Bayern at the Allianz Arena having failed to win any of their opening six top-flight encounters. Ninety minutes later, Glasner was celebrating a first league victory as Frankfurt boss as his team came from behind to claim three points thanks to goals from Martin Hinteregger and Kostic, and some shotstopping from goalkeeper Kevin Trapp.

Watch: Kostic makes one and scores one to topple Bayern

"I'm confident we can win anywhere," said Daichi Kamada as the Japan international pointed to recent wins over Bayern as evidence that they can also conquer Spanish giants Barcelona. "Frankfurt play against Bayern every year and we've won at least one match against them each year, so we have the confidence to get a result."

5) Great record

Frankfurt have never lost to a Spanish side in European competition outside of a final. True. In eight previous matches in the Europa League, UEFA Cup and UEFA Cup Winners' Cup against a La Liga outfit, Frankfurt did not lose a single game, winning all but three of them.

The only defeat they have tasted against Spanish opposition? The Champions League final — then the European Cup final — in May 1960 when there were beaten 7-3 by the all-conquering Alfredo Di Stefano and Ferenc Puskas-inspired Real Madrid.