Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Barca boss Xavi: Camp Nou must be a pressure cooker against Eintracht

SoccerNews in La Liga 7 Apr 2022

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Xavi called on Barcelona fans to make Camp Nou “a pressure cooker” after they drew 1-1 against Eintracht Frankfurt in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final.

Ansgar Knauff gave Eintracht the lead with a fine finish early in the second half at a raucous Deutsche Bank Park on Thursday, but Ferran Torres equalised after a brilliant exchange with Frenkie de Jong. 

The Bundesliga side saw Tuta sent off with just over 10 minutes remaining following a second bookable offence, but Barca were unable to pinch a winner in the closing stages. 

However, by avoiding defeat their unbeaten run stretched to 14 games – their best streak since January-May 2019 under Ernesto Valverde. 

Barca had almost two-thirds of the possession but mustered fewer than half the attempts on goal of Eintracht, who were a persistent threat on the counter-attack. 

Xavi felt his team were hindered by the state of the pitch and hopes a fiery atmosphere in Catalonia in next Thursday’s second leg can help the Blaugrana advance to the semi-finals. 

“They were a very physical opponent. They got forward like hell in transitions. We didn’t have the ball circulation and the state of the pitch didn’t help us,” Xavi told Movistar. 

“We leave quite satisfied and Camp Nou will have to be a pressure cooker, like it was in their stadium. 

“Normally the team that’s in control creates more, but we were not able to stop their devilish counter-attacks. We had already been warned – they eliminated a team like [Real] Betis [in the last 16].” 

Gerard Pique hobbled off in the first half with an apparent groin injury but Xavi was unable to provide a meaningful update on the centre-back. 

Sergio Busquets, who would have given a penalty away for a tackle on Rafael Borre had it not been for VAR, acknowledged Barca will need to be better in the second leg. 

“The goal gives us a lot of life because we had come to win but it was very difficult,” said Busquets. 

“There are things to improve. We will do better in the second leg with our fans and a pitch that will surely be better and faster. 

“Barca are always a candidate to win everything. We had a period that wasn’t the best but we’re doing things well. 

“We respect all the teams. Anything can happen and we will try to win.” 

Barca have progressed in three of the five knockout rounds in Europe’s secondary competition after drawing the first leg away from home. They were eliminated in the last such instance by Bayern Munich in the 1995-96 season. 

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