FC Barcelona boss Xavi Hernandez has offered an explanation for why both Frenkie de Jong and Ousmane Dembele did not start for Barca on Thursday.
La Blaugrana took on German powerhouse Eintracht Frankfurt in the first of two Europa League quarter-final clashes.
Barcelona headed into the game as favourites, but Frankfurt put up a solid fight and caused the away outfit all sorts of issues at the back.
Frankfurt even went 1-0 up after 48 minutes thanks to a stunning effort from Ansgar Knauff:
ANSGAR KNAUFF WHAT A STRIKE!! 🤯
The ball drops to the winger on the edge of the box and he absolutely blasts it into the top corner 💥
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 7, 2022
The game was, however, turned on its head when Xavi made the double substitution off De Jong and Dembele for Adama Traore and Gavi.
Four minutes after the pair came on Barcelona scored the equaliser when De Jong set up Ferran Torres, before Frankfurt were reduced to 10 men after 78 minutes.
So, given how much of a positive impact Dembele and De Jong had off the bench, why did they not start the game?
Well, as per Xavi: “We had to rest Frenkie and Dembélé because they were tired.”
Xavi: “We had to rest Frenkie and Dembélé because they were tired.” pic.twitter.com/sSnGTUmtiu
— Barça Universal (@BarcaUniversal) April 7, 2022
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Levante vs Barcelona
Barcelona must now turn their attentions towards La Liga, where they will face Levante on Sunday evening.
The Catalonian powerhouse head into the game sat 2nd in La Liga, 12 points behind 1st-place Real Madrid with one game in hand.
And whilst the chances of Barca catching Real now are slim to none, they will no doubt still want a strong finish to the 2021/22 campaign.