Filip Kostic was Eintracht Frankfurt’s leading man as they stunned Barcelona 3-2 at Camp Nou on Thursday night, surviving a late scare to get one step closer to the Europa League final in Seville.
A lot was expected of the Catalonian giants heading into the home leg but they were overwhelmed, not just by the German opponents but the 30,000 Die Adler fans that swarmed into the iconic stadium
The star of the show was the Serbian wing-back Filip Kostic. His performance was so dominant that it even prompted the Eintracht supporters to tease the Barca fans fby saying he was the best no. 10 to play at the 99,000-seater arena. It may have been a tongue-in-cheek exaggeration but it was a great exhibition from the 29-year-old nonetheless.
He demonstrated great composure to score from the penalty spot in the opening minutes to put the Bundesliga outfit ahead in the tie with a perfectly-placed effort into the bottom-right corner. His second was exactly the same type of finish, completing a fine break in the second-half, which sent the away fans into a state of euphoria as their European dream was unfolding before their eyes.
He even recorded the assist for his team’s second goal of the evening when Rafael Borre unleashed a thunderbolt into the back of the Barca net. He became the first player to score and assist at Camp Nou for an opposition side in a European game since Juninho for Lyon in 2009.
Kostic’s individual game has been widely praised but it comes as no surprise as he has been one of the most underappreciated players across Europe in recent years. Over the last four campaigns, Kostic has found the back of the net on 33 occasions and recorded 61 assists from wing-back. That’s more than Kevin De Bruyne in that time and anyone who can outshine the brilliant Belgian in that department must be some talent.
He was a constant threat to Blaugrana down the left flank and his intricate passing and drive are also complimented by the defensive side of his game. His numbers over the last four years have been excellent for a defender, especially when his natural position was as a winger when he was playing for Hamburg.
He has been a key cog in the Eintracht machine ever since he stepped through the doors at the Waldstadion four years ago when Adi Hutter was in charge and now he is continuing to shine under the leadership of Oliver Glasner, helping deliver Die Adler their first European semi-final since they won this competition back in 1979-80 when they defeated Borussia Monchengladbach in the final.
Kostic has already been part of a side that will be fondly remembered in Frankfurt for years to come but he and his teammates are just two games away from becoming immortalised at the club. It’s been an epic journey for them this year in the same season where they have struggled domestically, languishing in mid-table after finishing fifth last term.
Kostic has all the attributes you are looking for in a modern wing-back or winger and it is surprising that he has not been targeted by any of the bigger fish in Europe. He has been linked with Premier League clubs in the past, including Arsenal and West Ham United in January, but the Eintracht faithful will be delighted that he is perhaps flying under the radar in the European game, and they’ll hope that it can stay that way.
After his shining display against Barca, he will have gained wider attention and if his side were to achieve a fairytale finish in the Europa League, he might just be added to several clubs’ shopping lists in the summer.