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

By Sports Desk April 07, 2022

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. 

Related items

  • CF Montreal v New York Red Bulls: Schwarz not worried about misfiring front line ahead of Stade Saputo trip CF Montreal v New York Red Bulls: Schwarz not worried about misfiring front line ahead of Stade Saputo trip

    New York Red Bulls head coach Sandro Schwarz insisted he is not worried about his side's lack of firepower as they travel to the Stade Saputo on Thursday.

    The Red Bull Army failed to find the back of the net in their encounter against Nashville last time out, registering 14 shots with only six on target in front of their home supporters.

    Schwarz's side sit third in the Eastern Conference table, six points behind second-placed FC Cincinnati, but are hopeful of closing the gap with a win over their opponents.

    The Red Bulls head coach has said he will pass on his own experiences he went through as a player to try and combat their recent struggles in front of goal, but is confident his side can create those moments against Montreal.  

    "I am not worried about that," Schwarz said. "The only way, and this is my experience as a player and as a head coach, is to create every time in the next situation and to try it again in the next situation.

    "To come into the box position, this is what we have to do. I am sure, and I think this season we have scored a lot of goals, but against Nashville it was 0-0.

    "It is good that if you don’t score it is not necessary you didn’t concede a goal. Now, we have to create these moments against Montreal on Wednesday."

    Meanwhile, Montreal played out the same scoreline in their encounter with Real Salt Lake last time out but remained in 12th place in the Eastern Conference.

    Laurent Courtois' side are now unbeaten in their last four matches (W1 D3) in all competitions for the first time since a six-match winning streak between April and May last year.

    Montreal had lost five of its previous six games (D1) and will be looking to continue their recent momentum in front of their home supporters.

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Montreal – Joaquin Sosa

    Sosa won five of the nine tackles he attempted against Real Salt Lake on Saturday, which is the most tackles won in a match by a CF Montreal player this season.

    Sosa had won just 10 tackles in his first nine appearances for the club.

    New York Red Bulls – Elias Manoel

    With top scorer Lewis Morgan away with Scotland at Euro 2024, and Emil Forsberg out with a foot injury, it offers the chance for Elias Manoel to take centre stage.

    The Brazilian has scored three goals in 17 appearances this season, with his last coming in May against DC United.

    MATCH PREDICTION: NEW YORK RED BULLS WIN

    It looks set to be a tightly contested affair at the Stade Saputo on Thursday, but NYRB should have enough to edge the contest away from home.

    The Red Bulls' defensive rearguard was a big positive from their goalless draw with Nashville, not allowing their opponents a shot on target – the fourth time they have managed this since 2022.

    Schwarz's side reached the 30-point mark on Sunday with their draw at home to Nashville, reaching that total in fewer games just twice in the club's history, which came in the 2012 and 2018 campaigns, taking just 16 games to achieve.

    The two sides have alternated wins over the last eight meetings, with New York winning the last match 2-1 in May 2023. None of the last 17 regular-season meetings between the sides have ended in a draw.

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    Montreal – 31.6%

    Draw – 25.3%

    NYRB – 43.1%

  • Foden vows his Bellingham partnership will improve after England criticism Foden vows his Bellingham partnership will improve after England criticism

    Phil Foden is confident his combination play with Jude Bellingham will improve after the Manchester City star's performance in England's Euro 2024 opener came in for criticism.

    While Real Madrid talisman Bellingham scored the winning goal against Serbia with a powerful early header and produced an inspirational display, the impact of Foden was more limited.

    Foden scored 27 goals and added 13 assists in a stunning club season for Premier League winners Man City, but he created just one chance in Sunday's 1-0 victory.

    The 24-year-old moved out to the left flank, making way to accommodate Bellingham playing centrally behind captain Harry Kane, with Bukayo Saka out on the right.

    As well as not making a creative impact, Foden also failed to register a single shot in an unusually quiet outing.

    But Foden is confident he and Bellingham will get the best out of each other despite calls for him to be dropped from Gareth Southgate's starting XI ahead of Wednesday’s second match against Denmark.

    "Jude is obviously an exceptional talent, he carries himself really well and I think he is turning into a leader," said Foden.

    "Our link up play is good at times. I think it is improving as well and can keep getting better.

    "He is an exciting talent and I enjoy playing with him."

    Foden acknowledged the Serbia match had provided an early test for England, but that was something he welcomed.

    He added: "The first game of a major tournament is always the most difficult – it is important to get off to a win and we did that.

    "It was difficult at times. Obviously, we had to defend at times and dig deep.

    "But I think that shows a different side to us and if we are going to win something I think that we have to do that."

    England, who were pre-tournament favourites, will be hoping to top Group C in order to avoid a potential last-16 tie against hosts Germany, who lead Group A. The winners of Group A will face the runners-up of Group C in Dortmund on June 29.

    After facing Denmark, England's group-stage campaign will conclude with a match against Slovenia on Tuesday.

  • St. Louis City v Colorado Rapids: Carnell desperate for response as winless run persists St. Louis City v Colorado Rapids: Carnell desperate for response as winless run persists

    St. Louis City will be desperate to snap a record six-game winless run in MLS when they host Colorado Rapids at CityPark Stadium on Thursday.

    The Missouri-based side have just three wins from their 17 league matches this term, falling down to 11th in the Western Conference standings.

    Bradley Carnell's men have not triumphed in MLS action since a 3-1 win over Chicago Fire in the middle of May, and were defeated 2-0 by FC Dallas last time out.

    St. Louis coach Carnell referenced injury struggles, however, as his side continue to battle through a troubling period.

    "Obviously, it doesn’t take a genius to look at the roster and see where we are. We're not the first team to struggle with this.

    "Now we get challenged and now get to prove what we are as a group, team, organisation and unit – sticking together.

    "We have a plethora of young players who are performing [for our academy] and we will keep some of those guys with us through the week."

    The Rapids have enjoyed a better season, sitting sixth in the West table after returning to winning ways with a 2-0 victory over Austin FC at Dick's Sporting Goods Park.

    That ended a four-game winless streak for Colorado, who secured a much-needed victory after a rocketed finish from Cole Bassett before Rafael Navarro netted his 10th goal of the season.

    The next challenge for the Rapids is to secure back-to-back victories for the first time since April, though they have lost three straight on the road.

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    St. Louis City – Jared Stroud

    Jared Stroud was involved in a goal in both matches (one goal, one assist) against the Rapids last season.

    The St. Louis man has eight assists to his name in MLS this season, too, and will hope to deliver once more when Colorado come to town.

    Colorado Rapids – Djordje Mihailovic

    Djordje Mihailovic has scored in each of the Rapids' last three away matches.

    He is the first Rapids player to score in three straight away from home in a single regular season since Shkelzen Gashi scored in five straight on the road from June-October 2016.

    MATCH PREDICTION – ST. LOUIS CITY WIN

    St. Louis are the heavy favourites for victory in this encounter, considering their record against the Rapids.

    Carnell's side collected four points from their two matches against Colorado last season, including a 2-0 win at home last July.

    Colorado have lost their last three road matches, conceding 10 goals in those games, and that run of form comes as no surprise.

    Indeed, the Rapids have lost 15 of their last 21 away from home in all competitions (W3 D3), dating back to last May.

    Yet a home win is by no means a foregone conclusion.

    St. Louis are winless in six straight matches (D2 L4) for the first time in club history. They have just three wins so far, tied for the fewest in MLS this season, though all three have come at home.

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    St. Louis City win – 48.8%

    Colorado Rapids win – 25.5%

    Draw – 25.7%

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.