Barcelona saw their European campaign come to a grinding halt on Thursday night as they succumbed to a shock 2-3 defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt at Camp Nou.
The first leg in Germany had ended in a 1-1 draw, leaving Barça with everything to do on Thursday. But a poor start saw the Catalans give away an early penalty which Filip Kostic converted before Rafael Borre made it 2-0 with a long-range stunner.
Kostic scored again to make it 3-0 in the second half. Barça tried to stage a late fightback with Sergio Busquets scoring in the stoppage time. But Memphis Depay’s penalty came too little too late as the Catalans ended up crashing out of the UEFA Europa League.
Speaking after the match, manager Xavi Hernandez lamented over the team’s lack of attacking nous on the night, as he said: “We haven’t known how to attack well, we haven’t played like in other games. It is a big disappointment.
“This is a night we have to learn from. We had control (of the ball) but we didn’t know how to take advantage of that control.”
The 42-year-old also too the opportunity to congratulate his opponents on their triumph, saying: “I want to congratulate Frankfurt because they deserved it.”
The manager admitted that the team made a lot of errors on the field, saying: “We made a lot of mistakes. The penalty kick was a mistake, the third goal was a mistake. We have to criticise ourselves and learn from these mistakes.”
Thursday’s game saw the Camp Nou being swarmed with a large number of Eintracht Frankfurt supporters as they created an atmosphere full of energy, egging their team on to make history.
Xavi touched on the aspect as well, claiming that there were an unusually large number of away fans for the game.
“The atmosphere at the Camp Nou didn’t help us, it looked like a final with divided fans… The club are checking what happened. I was expecting a Camp Nou with 70,000 Barça fans, but it hasn’t been like that,” he said.
“The dressing room wants to know what happened in the stadium tonight. I am disappointed, and so are the players. We did not find the atmosphere that we needed. We expected more fans to support us. Thank you, for those who did attend today.”
Barça were dealt a fresh injury blow during the game as midfield prodigy had to be taken off at half-time with a hamstring issue. Speaking of the 19-year-old’s condition, Xavi added:
“Let’s see what happened to Pedri, it’s bad news, we have to recover players and continue competing.”
Talking about Sergino Dest making a comeback from injury in the second period, he said: “Dest just came back from an injury and wasn’t ready to play the entire game. Mingueza has helped us and we’re not going to focus on one player.”
Finally, addressing the team’s objectives for the rest of the campaign, the Barcelona manager said: “The goal for the remainder of the season is to qualify for the Champions League.”
“We are on the right track, despite the elimination,” he said. “Mathematically we can win La Liga, yes… We have eight finals left and we are already thinking about Cádiz, waiting for the fans to be with us again.”