FC Barcelona had been riding on the crest of a wave in recent weeks, but they were given a stark reality check by Eintracht Frankfurt on Thursday evening. The Catalans arrived at the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final tie brimming with confidence, but were held to a 1-1 draw.

Eintracht Frankfurt did well to hold on to the draw despite being left with 10 men after Tuta was sent off for a second yellow card in the final 10 minutes of the match. The hosts started the night strong, with the first big opportunity coming after Sergio Busquets was deemed to have given up a penalty. However, VAR showed the referee that the Barcelona captain had won the ball during the play and the penalty was not given.

However, it did not take long for Eintracht Frankfurt to find another chance, with Ansgar Knauff giving them the lead soon after the half-time break. A corner was cleared by the Barcelona defence but it fell conveniently for Knauff, who had the composure to control the ball before sending it past Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Xavi's new signing Ferran Torres saved the Catalans their blushes by finding an equaliser in the 66th minute, but this is far from the performance that Barcelona expected. Frenkie de Jong and Ousmane Dembele contributed to the goal, and while Barcelona appeared to have picked up the pace after the equaliser, they were no longer able to find the winner.

Barcelona had been on a steady upward trajectory in recent weeks, and the 4-0 victory at El Clasico boosted their confidence even further. Last weekend, they also managed to leapfrog Sevilla for second place on the La Liga table. They are confident of making it all the way to the final of the Europa League, but they have now been reminded that there is a lot of quality in the competition.

The Catalans may no longer be in the Champions League where they feel they belong, but beating everyone in the Europa League is not a given. They will now need to settle the score to try to make it to the semi-finals at the Camp Nou for the second leg on Thursday, April 14.

Xavi Hernandez
Xavi Hernandez AFP / KARIM JAAFAR