“Tradition versus tradition – world-class” | OneFootball
“Tradition versus tradition – world-class”
Eintracht are one win against Rangers away from a second European trophy, 42 years after the first.
They say all good things come in threes. The UEFA Europa League final between Eintracht Frankfurt and Rangers FC on 18 May at the Estadio Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán is the third European final to take place in the Andalusian capital of Sevilla. For the Eagles, it’s also their third time in the final of a European competition following the showpiece against Real Madrid CF in 1960 and the UEFA Cup success against Borussia Mönchengladbach in 1980.
Moreover, it’s Eintracht’s third outing on Spanish soil this season, where they’re yet to lose following the 2-1 win over Real Betis Balompié and the 3-2 victory against FC Barcelona. And that’s not all: this will be the Hessians’ third meeting with a club from Scotland on the European stage. In the 1959/60 season, the two sides came up against each other in the semi-finals of the European Cup, with Eintracht winning 6-1 at the Waldstadion before triumphing again 6-3 at Ibrox Stadium three weeks later. As if that were not enough, SGE could become the third team ever to win the Europa League without losing a single game, having become the first German club to reach the final of this competition.
Therefore, little more needs to be said about the significance of the match for players, coaches and staff. Jens Petter Hauge, for example, told EintrachtTV he’s expecting “one of the greatest nights” of his life. And Sebastian Rode, with a dozen Champions League appearances on his CV, admitted that everything revolves around the game against Rangers. “You go through all potential scenarios,” said the captain. “Obviously with the ending that you lift the thing up at the end. For me it would be one of the greatest, maybe even the greatest moments of my career. To win a European title, and to do so with Eintracht, a club not far from where I was born, would be something very special.” Kevin Trapp has already spoken of a “dream coming true”, but the goalkeeper also knows “that we have one match left to finish the job”.
Variable, physical and a goal threat
Oliver Glasner believes the odds are 50:50 and that “both teams are in the final on merit“. The Eintracht coach has been particularly impressed by the Glasgow club’s performances in this Europa League campaign. “They knocked out two top teams from the Bundesliga in Dortmund and Leipzig, and fully deserved to. They play with immense pressure and aggression, and they’re very strong in the challenge with a clear structure in possession,” he warned. For his team, it's about breaking up the long passages of play that Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s men have and finding gaps when they have possession themselves. “We’ve already spotted one or two ways of doing that,” he added.
The coach has also identified variability in their build-up play during the analysis. “Sometimes they play with a back three or five, but sometimes with a back four.” Their approach has been vindicated by their success up to now. ‘The Gers’ are the team with the most passes (6,351) and the most tackles (1,410) in this season’s competition. Furthermore, 126 shots and 33 big chances are both the second highest figures, from which 22 goals have resulted – the top tally. Eintracht are just behind them on 20 goals, which is logical given that they’re the two teams to have played the most matches in the Europa League.
It’s important to Glasner that his charges don’t tense up, despite the glorious and perhaps one-off opportunity that stands before them. Instead, he wants to see “Eintracht Frankfurt football” with the composure and enthusiasm they showed against West Ham United and Barcelona, for example. “Then I’m confident it will go our way.” Even if his goalkeeper sees a difficult game ahead for himself and the men in front of him, he assures them that he will mobilise all his strength once again and give it his all.
“It’s a final, it all comes down to one match,” said Trapp. “That’s the way we’ll approach it. Everyone believes we can do it.” Rangers are equally confident of pulling off a major triumph, though. “You always have to believe in something, otherwise you can’t achieve big goals. And obviously we believe we can win the final in Sevilla,” described van Bronckhorst, who took over from Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard at Ibrox on 18 November last year, having previously won the UEFA Champions League as a player with Barcelona in 2006.
Fan festival in Sevilla
The final in Sevilla will probably go down as one of the final clashes most rich in tradition in the history of this competition. Rangers were founded 150 years ago, while Eintracht celebrated their 123rd birthday in March. Both clubs have large – and passionate – fanbases. SGE president Peter Fischer was already looking forward to it after full time in the semi-finals: “Tradition versus tradition – world-class.” Axel Hellmann also spoke of an “eternal dream” of playing against Rangers “because 1960 still hovers over everything”. The CEO is expecting around 100,00 Rangers supporters for this special occasion, and added, referring to the club’s own support: “We’re expecting between 40,000 and 50,000 fans.”
In any case: “In Sevilla, they are expecting an onslaught that this city has never experienced before. It will be a unique meeting of the most vocal and enthusiastic fans in Europe.” And it’s also set to be a historic battle on the pitch. The dream of the title is alive!
Kick-off: Wednesday 18 May, 21:00 CEST, Final, UEFA Europa League, 2021/22. Stadium: Estadio Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán, Sevilla.
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