Frankfurt fans cost Barcelona Europa League semi-final spot, claims Xavi
Barcelona manager Xavi Hernandez has claimed that the travelling support of Eintracht Frankfurt contributed to Barcelona losing at home in the second leg of the Europa League.
Barcelona and Eintracht Frankfurt played a very entertaining game which saw the German side display an attacking prowess which Xavi was not able to outmanoeuvre, leading to Barcelona being dumped out of Europe for the second time this season.
A 3-4 aggregate loss flatters the Catalan club, who were unable to provide any bite in their attack against a resolute Frankfurt defence. The German side carefully bid their time and picked apart Barcelona's defence with a counter-attacking performance that neutrals and the travelling Frankfurt fans thoroughly enjoyed.
Barcelona boss Xavi has finally lost his first match in 16 games since taking charge of the club in November, ending the longest running unbeaten streak in Europe's top five leagues this season.
30,000 Frankfurt fans at Camp Nou made atmosphere different, says Xavi
Speaking after the game, Xavi admitted that while his side were lacking some of the fighting and killing instinct they had shown in the past games, that the Frankfurt fans were the catalyst of his team's loss at Camp Nou.
Barcelona had to suspend ticket sales for the game on Wednesday after an estimated 30,000 fans from the visiting team got tickets. This is the single largest travelling crowd for any match in recent memory.
As a result, the match felt like a home match for the Germans, who put up a wall of white that almost drowned out the Blaugrana colours in Camp Nou's 90,000 plus seater grounds.
"I was expecting 70,000 Barcelona fans to fill Camp Nou, but that wasn’t the case," Xavi said about Frankfurt's overwhelming presence at Camp Nou.
"[The presence of German fans] was a miscalculation and the club is reviewing it. It looked more like a final instead of a home game.
"Frankly, I’m disappointed and so are the players. We needed an atmosphere and it was not there. We expected more fans to support us.
"The atmosphere in the stands did not help us, that is clear. It affected us and we were not well, this is not an excuse though because on the field we were not good enough either."
Blow after blow for Barcelona against Frankfurt
Buttressing on that last statement, the former Barcelona captain stated, after congratulating their opponents for the victory, that his side's failures to focus on their transitions from defence to attack cost them the game.
"It’s a very big disappointment. We have to congratulate Frankfurt because they deserved to qualify, but we weren’t good," Xavi added.
"We didn’t know how to create chances and attack, we didn’t play like we did in our last games. The match was one blow after another for us.
"We didn’t focus on defensive transitions. Every time they reached our goal it seemed like they were going to score.
"We made a lot of mistakes. The penalty kick [in the first half] was a mistake, the third goal was a mistake. We have to learn from these mistakes and criticise ourselves.
"This is a disappointment for me but let me say that this is part of the process we are going through. I think since November we have changed a lot of things. Defeat is part of football, despite what happened today we must continue to believe."
Xavi and Barcelona will now focus on finishing in the top four in LaLiga, having been knocked out of every other competition.
LaLiga strugglers Cadiz CF is their next opponent on Monday 18 April, before they travel to the Basque country to face Real Sociedad as they hope to solidify their current position in second place, which will be a big win for the side considering how they started the season.
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