150,000 fans in Seville, an amazing Europa League final tonight
Important to know about Eintracht
Fifty thousand fans of the German club are already in Seville. Another hundred thousand have flown in from Scotland and around the world – to support the Rangers. At the same time the quotas for fans at the stadium are not that big, that is, drunken guys and girls will watch the final in the bars of the Spanish city. There will be a lot of noise after the final, and the police are already preparing to separate the fans of the two clubs.
“Eintracht are crazy about “worlds” – in their last 14 matches they have eight draws. And only three wins – over Barcelona and twice over West Ham. The Germans did not pay attention to the Bundesliga and concentrated all their efforts on the Europa League. They slipped to 11th place in their league table, but for the first time since 1980, the Eagles reached the European Cup final. They failed to make the most of their first attempt – losing 7-3 to Real Madrid in the European Cup. And 20 years later, they defeated Borussia M on aggregate in two games thanks to the away goals.
The Germans were undefeated in the group stage of the LE (3 wins, 3 “worlds” in the group with Olympiacos, Fenerbahce and Antwerp). Then knocked out Betis and Barcelona. The Spanish vector was replaced by the British one: they stopped West Ham in the semifinals. Now they are back in Spain, but this time they will play against the Scots. In the playoffs of the tournament the team of 47-year-old Oliver Glasner has not lost once. They rebuilt for the cup tournament, studied difficult opponents well and became a sensation. We expected many in the final, but not Eintracht.
The coach is new to the team – he came from Wolfsburg, but the team has gained experience in the League – they played in three of the last four seasons. The leader is Serb Filip Kostic, although in European competitions there has been a good showing of Japanese forward Kamada – 5 +1 on goal plus assists, and his Colombian counterpart Borre – 3 +2. The Germans are trying to get N’Dick, who was injured in the last round of the Bundesliga, back on his feet, but there is no epidemic of injuries, which is great.
“Eintracht” in the Europa League only once played with a four in defense, so we expect a three and active in the attacking laterals – Knauff and Kostic. Much will depend on the quality of Sow’s work in midfield. Trapp’s saves are also important, although the former PSG goalkeeper is not among the best LE goalkeepers in terms of percentage of repulsed shots. By the way, Muslera and Selikhov are at the top of the list. But their teams didn’t make it to the finals, and Glazner will test his 3-4-2-1 scheme on Steven Gerrard’s former team.
Important to know about the Rangers
Ten years ago the club from Glasgow, founded in 1872, went bankrupt. They accrued debts of £135m and fell under external administration. The members of the Scottish league voted to expel Rangers, they had to go to the fourth division. Kudos to everyone who saved the legendary club all those years. After such a dive, few will be able to make it to the European Cup finals.
Four years ago Gerrard took charge of the club, and Steven’s success is associated with the Rangers’ soccer comeback. Last year, for the first time in ten years they became the champions, went through the season without losses and scored a record 102 points. Such results inspired the team. Even when Gerrard returned to England, heading Aston Villa, the champion team remained in Glasgow. They lost to Celtic in the league, but they gave it their all in the Europa League and reached the final.
Last time Rangers played against Zenit in the UEFA Cup Final and lost after goals from Denisov and Zyryanov. So far, the Scots have five attempts to win the European Cup and four failures. Only in the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1972 they managed to beat Dynamo Moscow at the Camp Nou 3-2. Fifty years later, they are back in Spain, trying to repeat that success against the unyielding Germans, who rarely win, but are able not to lose.
If Eintracht have Kostic, the Rangers have Tavernier. James is thirty years old, a defender, but shows incredible scoring instincts. In 56 games this season he has scored 18 goals and given 16 assists. Tavernier has seven goals in the Europa League, and if Kamada does not make a hat-trick today, it is the Englishman who will individually win the Golden Boot for the best sniper of the tournament. A very cool result for a defender, even though James converted four penalties. But he also had two assists and three game-winning goals.
After Gerrard, the Rangers trusted Giovanni van Bronckhorst. The Dutchman played for the club from Glasgow, and although his coaching talents can be questioned – look at the defeats against Celtic, or away failures in the Europa League (we lost to Red Star, Braga and Leipzig), you have to give credit to Gio’s ability to set up his team in the right way. With the Serbs we had a home defeat, but on two other occasions we got back into the game. The Scottish team is about character, especially in light of the loss of forward Morelos, who could have changed the character of the match all by himself.
Important to know on the eve of the finals
Two trophies and a direct ticket to the Champions League are on the line tonight. The UEFA Cup will be played out on Wednesday night, while the UEFA Super Cup will have to be snatched from the hands of Real Madrid or Liverpool in the final later. The stakes are huge, for Eintracht and Rangers fans tonight is a special night that could be exciting for neutral soccer fans as well.
Unlike the finals, where the Champions League rejects like Chelsea, Atletico or Manchester United win, this match is about the chance of a lifetime. Rangers have a 40-year-old goalkeeper, they have a defender-sniper who did not play for Newcastle and Wigan at home in England. Eintracht’s poor Kostić never made it to an invitation to the club from the Champions League, and Trapp didn’t become a superstar in Paris. Tonight is a crucial night in the lives of dozens of people from the two clubs.
Many point to Rangers’ inability to play outside their home stadium, and that’s a valid detail (unless you count the win over Borussia Dortmund, of course). But Eintracht are banally not in ideal form – let their Europa League mindset not be embarrassed. Both teams do not perform in the season the way Liverpool and Manchester City do, and do not have the same set of performers as Real Madrid. That’s why the Europa League final is interesting-it’s hard to predict where the game will turn.