Rangers and Eintracht Frankfurt are set to showcase UEFA Europa League heritage in the final in Seville.
“42 Jahre warten, auf diesen Moment”, Eintracht Frankfurt fans shall wonder as they flock to Seville for their team’s upcoming UEFA Europa League on Wednesday. It will the club’s first European final appearance since 1980 when they managed to win the UEFA Cup by beating Borussia Monchengladbach.
Eintracht were close to re-achieving the feat back in 2019, when they fell to a narrow defeat at the hands of Chelsea, in the Europa League final. Three years later, they have come roaring back, overpowering teams like FC Barcelona, Real Betis and West Ham United to reach the final of the revered competition.
But facing them in the final will be Rangers, another club hungry for European glory after spending years in the shadow of their esteemed domestic rivals Celtic. Appearing in the first final since the 2008 UEFA Cup, Rangers have been equally brilliant in the knockout stages, beating Borussia Dortmund, SC Braga and RB Leipzig to reach the final.
It is a tightly-balanced contest and a fight between two underdogs who were hardly expected to reach this stage of the competition. One would give Eintracht the upper hand due to their elite record away from home, not only in the Bundesliga but in Europe.
They are yet to lose in Europa League this season and have already won twice in Spain, against Barcelona and Real Betis. Rangers, in contrast, have won only once away from home, which came in the dream victory over Borussia Dortmund at the Signal Iduna Park.
However, past records will hardly be of consequences and mentality could swiftly take the centre stage. And here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sides ahead of their highly-awaited Europa League final in Sevilla this midweek.
Team News & Tactics
👉 The Captain
— Rangers Football Club (@RangersFC) May 17, 2022
Rangers boss Giovanni van Bronckhorst has done an extraordinary job to guide his team to the Europa League final given that he has not received consistent support from Alfredo Morelos up top. The lethal Colombian striker is set to miss out once again, along with Ianis Hagi and Filip Helander.
Despite the win over Leipzig, Rangers have found it difficult to replace Morelos in the number nine role. There is a chance Kemar Roofe could return to the setup against Frankfurt, but realistically, the central attacking role could go to Joe Aribo, as he accompanies Ryan Kent and Scott Wright in the Rangers front three.
Van Bronckhorst does have the option of deploying a more traditional number nine, though, in the form of Fashion Sakala, whose presence in the starting eleven could see Aribo moving on to the right, at the expense of Wright.
Rangers head coach should not deviate too much in midfield, as he looks to continue with his tried and tested combination of Glen Kamara, Ryan Jack and John Lundstram. The three midfielders have been the rock of the Rangers team this season in Europe, offering genuine cover for the backline, which has remained equally solid.
They will need to replicate their solidity for one last game and the onus will be on captain James Tavernier to lead the side. The right-back, though, will have his work cut off against Filip Kostic on the flank, while Borna Barisic can also expect a busy night up against on-loan Borussia Dortmund winger Ansgar Knauff.
Connor Goldson and Calvin Bassey, meanwhile, will look to use their physical and aerial superiority to nullify any threat from Frankfurt’s central attackers. Their contributions could go a long way in offering cover for the 40-year-old shot-stopper Alan McGregor.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): McGregor; Tavernier, Goldson, Bassey, Barisic; Lundstram, Kamara, Jack; Aribo, Sakala, Kent
Eintracht Frankfurt’s biggest absentee heading into this affair is Martin Hinteregger. The Austrian international has been ruled out for this final after picking up a hamstring injury. His absence means the onus will be on Almamy Toure to replace the former FCA starlet, as he partners Tuta and Evan Ndicka in the Frankfurt back three.
— Eintracht Frankfurt (@eintracht_eng) May 17, 2022
Coach Oliver Glasner is unlikely to make any tactical changes and will look to retain his 3-4-2-1 formation. Rangers, though, will be aware of the fact that Eintracht like to attack from the wings a lot, largely thanks to effective wing-backs such as Ansgar Knauff and Filip Kostic.
Both the players are capable of making life miserable for Tavernier and Barisic. At the same time, their attacking intent could see them leave out gaps for players like Aribo and Kent to exploit.
Frankfurt, nevertheless, will be wary of attacking from the wide positions and that is where Daichi Kamada could be essential. The Japanese international has the ability to go through tight spaces in the middle and beat Rangers’ second line of press. Kamada connecting the dots between midfield and attack could go a long way in helping Frankfurt maintain their dominance in the proceedings.
But it will be equally important for the defensive midfielders Sebastian Rode and Djibril Sow to keep things tidy in the middle of the park and offer cover for the back three. Rafael Santos Borre, meanwhile, will look to make the most of the crosses from the wider areas, although the additional support from Jesper Lindstrom could be critical, knowing the striker will be tightly marked.
Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Trapp; Toure, Tuta, Ndicka; Knauff, Rode, Sow, Kostic; Lindstrom, Kamada; Borre
- The hero against Barcelona, Rafael Santos Borre finished the Bundesliga season with a team-leading eight goals, but Daichi Kamada is Frankfurt’s top scorer in Europe with five.
- Eintracht have reached the Europa League final without losing (W7, D5), while Rangers have lost five of their 14 fixtures (W6, D3).
- Frankfurt are averaging 1.66 goals per Europa League game compared to Rangers’ strike rate of 1.57.
- Die Adler have already won twice this season in Spain, where they have never lost in five visits.
- Frankfurt are through to their third European competition final. They thumped Rangers 12-4 over two legs on their way to the 1960 European Cup final, where they lost to Real, before beating Gladbach in the two-legged 1980 UEFA Cup final.
Players to Watch
So proud of Ryan Kent and how he has developed as player/person. He was in my first session as a LFC coach back in 2012 and to see his journey to this point has been fantastic. The journey of that Rangers team also shows that anything is possible. Go and do it lads 💙 https://t.co/h1Bv83absZ
— Michael Beale (@MichaelBeale) May 13, 2022
Ryan Kent has been Rangers’ main protagonist during their dream run to the Europa League final. A former reject at SC Freiburg, the explosive winger has taken apart German teams like Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig this season and he will surely set his sights on Eintracht Frankfurt next.
Kent’s dynamism and trickery on the flanks could be ideal for exploiting the space left behind by the marauding Knauff on the left-hand side for Rangers. He may also take on Almamy Toure, who is set to replace Hinteregger and will be under pressure to perform in this final.
Eintracht Frankfurt will certainly have to be extra careful when defending against the dangerous Kent. The former Liverpool starlet has the quality to make something out of nothing, which could serve the Scots well this midweek.
Rangers 1-2 Eintracht Frankfurt
This is going to be one of the toughest games to predict as the two sides are brilliantly balanced, with both missing their most important player. They are also coming on the back of an exquisite run of form in Europe and have the players that change the complexion of the game at any moment.
They approach the game in a similar stylistic manner, with the teams fond of pouring men forward and largely playing on the counter. They may need to alter their game plan a little in this final, but we are predicting Eintracht to remain the favourites due to their superior record away from home.
The Eagles are one of the most in-form sides when it comes to playing at away venues. And with players like Filip Kostic, Sebastian Rode and Kevin Trapp in their ranks, the Germans should have the nerves to see this one out and secure their first European title since 1980.