FC Barcelona continue their challenge for a title this season when they visit Eintracht Frankfurt in the first leg of their Europa League quarterfinal on Thursday night.

Coach Xavi Hernandez is without right back Sergino Dest and forward Memphis Depay though injury, while Luuk de Jong also misses out after testing positive for Covid-19 at the end of last week and Dani Alves isn’t included in Barca’s squad for Europe.

Meanwhile Sergi Roberto, Samuel Umtiti and Ansu Fati are long-term absentees, who have also remained in Barcelona to continue their recovery process.

The absence of Alaves is a problem for Xavi, who will probably have to play Oscar Mingueza, who doesn’t seem to form part of the coach’s plans, at right back, while he could make some rotations in central defense, with Eric Garcia in for Ronald Araujo.

The club and Araujo seem to be close to agreement for the Uruguayan defender to extend his contract with the club and a new deal could now be signed in the coming days after several months of on-off discussions.

Talks are also ongoing with winger Ousmane Dembele, who looked to have a foot out of the door after rejecting a new contract in January. Xavi has maintained faith in the Frenchman despite many wanting the winger to be left in the stands for the rest of the season and the coach has been rewarded with a series of impressive performances.

Barca’s 1-0 win at the weekend over Sevilla lifted them to second in LaLiga with Pedri’s excellent goal assuring the points and the 18-year-old will again be Barca’s focal point in Germany.

Eintracht are currently ninth in the Bundesliga and Barca have to be seen as clear favorites, but the German side showed when they knocked Betis out of the last round that they are a dangerous side on the break and Barca will have to avoid any lapses of concentration in possession.

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