Soccer

Eintracht Frankfurt v Rangers: Europa League final – live!


25 mins: Joe Aribo goes close for Rangers! More impressive work from Wright, who picks out the forward with a pass before being cleaned out by N’Dicka. The referee plays advantage, and Aribo curls his effort a yard wide of the far post. N’Dicka, somewhat improbably, doesn’t appear to have been booked.

“Never seen someone take as long to decide which way to kick as Tavernier did there,” says Dan Christmas of the coin-toss. The Rangers captain did make the right call in the end, I think – they will play towards their fans in the second half.

22 mins: Sow has a sight of goal from 25 yards, but fires well over. Rangers just need to stem the tide here – they’re struggling to do much outside their own half.

20 mins: Big save from McGregor! It’s one he would expect to make, but he did well to spring across and turn Knauff’s near-post shot wide. From the corner, Lindstrom’s shot ricochets into the side netting. Frankfurt in the ascendancy here …

18 mins: After Lindstrom makes a foray down the left, Rangers break and Wright tries to prod through the high back line – but Aribo is offside.

16 mins: In addition to the managers, there’s quite a contrast between the fans. The Rangers contingent started off louder, but Frankfurt’s ultras have counter-pressed in organised fashion and are making most of the noise now. Decked out in white caps, white shirts and black and white scarves, they look like a monochrome edition of Where’s Wally.

“I’ve been thinking about the two managers,” writes Kári Tulunius. “On the one hand there’s Giovanni van Bronckhorst, who has the glittering career, youthful good looks, and name, of a 500-year-old vampire count, a player who scored one of the classic World Cup semifinal goals.

“On the other there’s Oliver Glasner, who played almost his entire career for a local, small-town club, SV Ried, and won a couple of Austrian Cups. They were born a year apart, and couldn’t have had more different playing careers, but now they’ve led two fine old institutions to their biggest match in generations.”

13 mins: Rangers are lined up in similar fashion to their semi-final against Leipzig, with Lundstram dropping into a back three, Jack and Kamara in central midfield, and Kent and Wright operating either side of Aribo.

11 mins: The first opening of the game comes Frankfurt’s way, as Glen Kamara is dispossessed. Kamada finds space to the left of goal, but delays his shot, allowing Lundstram to get back before McGregor saves from a narrow angle. Sow has a go from distance, but big Al is right behind it.

9 mins: It’s been a combative start, with Aribo going down in the area to no avail, before Djibril Sow is penalised for a foul in midfield …

7 mins: Rode requires extensive bandaging as the VAR official reviews the footage. There is no booking for Lundstram, which is a little fortunate – even if his foot was not outrageously high.

A bandgaed Sebastian Rode receives treatment from the Eintracht Frankfurt medical team.
Sebastian Rode receives treatment from the Eintracht Frankfurt medical team. Photograph: José Manuel Vidal/EPA
Sebastian Rode of Eintracht Frankfurt receives medical treatment.
A bloodied and bandaged Sebastian Rodeis back on his feet. Photograph: Ángel Martínez/UEFA/Getty Images

5 mins: Eek, this is a nasty moment early on as John Lundstram’s high boot connects with Sebastian Rode. It looked purely accidental, but as Rode stooped to head away, Lundstram clipped his head – and the Frankfurt captain is down with a cut on his forehead.

John Lundstram of Rangers challenges Sebastian Rode of Eintracht Frankfurt.
Sebastian Rode of Eintracht Frankfurt reacts after a challenge by John Lundstram of Rangers. Photograph: Ángel Martínez/UEFA/Getty Images

4 mins: Wright turns and slots a tidy pass into Aribo’s path, but he is cut off quickly by Tuta. From the throw-in, Tavernier has a chance to cross, but overhits his effort.

2 mins: Frankfurt start on the front foot, Knauff pinging in a cross from deep. Calvin Bassey gets in a block to end the game’s first attacking move.

Kick-off

The referee, Slovenia’s Slavko Vincic, blows his whistle. Here we go!

Both teams are out on the pitch – Rangers in blue, Eintracht in all-white. Players collectively take the knee, greeted by applause from around the ground. It’s time …

Harriet Osborn will be keeping an eye on Filip Kostic: “I’m always impressed when I watch him play.” The Serbian wing-back will be a big threat down the left; James Tavernier has a big job on his hands to keep him quiet.

Filip Kostic (centre) warms up before kick-off.
Filip Kostic (centre) warms up before kick-off. Photograph: Albert Gea/Reuters
Rangers fans are here in huge numbers ...
Rangers fans are here in huge numbers … Photograph: Pablo Garcia/AP
... but the Frankfurt turnout isn’t too shabby, either.
… but the Frankfurt turnout isn’t too shabby, either. Photograph: José Manuel Vidal/EPA
A general view inside the stadium as the fans of Eintracht Frankfurt show their support with a large tifo.
And they’ve brought rather a natty tifo with them too. Photograph: David Ramos/Getty Images

The stands are full now, with the blue of Rangers edging the white of Frankfurt slightly – maybe 60-40. It’s already noisy, just wait for kick-off.

“With no Scots blood and living a short lorry-queue from the English Channel, I’m still up for Rangers tonight. Big Vase! Best story since Fulham,” says Nick Major.

The players line up ahead of kick-off.
The players line up ahead of kick-off. Photograph: Pierre-Philippe Marcou/AFP/Getty Images

Giovanni van Bronckhorst gives his pre-game thoughts: “We prepared well, the boys look sharp and ready for the game. I was quite clear how to set up when I watched Frankfurt – it’s a great game, a great atmosphere, and we’re finally here!”

“The fans will give us a lot of energy, the more [here] the better. We haven’t prepared differently to other games, we keep to a routine. The pressure is there, we are one step from the prize, but we are focused on the game and ready to go.”

In goal for Rangers tonight, the one and only Allan McGregor. He joins Dino Zoff and Edwin van der Sar in an exclusive club – the only 40-year-olds to play in a major men’s European final. Ewan Murray had a chat with him earlier in the week:

Today’s Fiver is all about the fun and games in Seville:

How are the nerves, lads?

Gio van Bronckhorst has given Scott Wright the nod for tonight’s big game, with Kemar Roofe and Aaron Ramsey on the bench. It’s expected that Wright and Ryan Kent will operate either side of Aribo in a front three.

As for Eintracht Frankfurt, Oliver Glasner has stuck with the system that got them here, with Jesper Lindstrøm fit enough to slot in alongside Kamada, behind centre-forward Rafael Santos Borré. Martin Hinteregger is out injured, with Evan N’Dicka coming into the back three.

Joe Aribo leads the line for Rangers with Alfredo Morelos injured; it’s a proud day for Kinetic Foundation, the Croydon academy that helped Aribo build his professional career.

Fans of both sides are starting to take their seats inside the stadium, with kick-off just over an hour away.

Rangers fans ...
Rangers fans … Photograph: Justin Setterfield/Getty Images
... and Frankfurt fans inside the Róman Sánchez Pizjuán stadium.
… and Frankfurt fans inside the Róman Sánchez Pizjuán stadium. Photograph: Pablo Garcia/AP

The teams are in!

Eintracht Frankfurt (3-4-2-1): Trapp; Tuta, Touré, N’Dicka; Knauff, Rode (c), Sow, Kostic; Lindstrøm, Kamada; Borré.

Subs: Grahl, Jakic, Hrustic, Lammers, Hasebe, Ache, Chandler, Hauge, Da Costa, Lenz, Barkok, Paciência.

Rangers (4-3-3): McGregor; Tavernier (c), Goldson, Bassey, Barisic; Jack, Lundstram, Kamara; Kent, Aribo, Wright.

Subs: McCrorie, McLaughlin, Diallo, Davis, Ramsey, Sands, Roofe, Balogun, Sakala, Arfield, Lowry, King.

Referee: Slavko Vincic (Slovenia)

Jacob Steinberg offers a tactical lowdown on Eintracht Frankfurt. Much like Rangers, the Bundesliga side have swept to the final by playing a reactive style that relies on wing-backs pushing upfield. Kamada aside, they may lack a little individual flair but as a hard-working, well-drilled collective, they add up to more than the sum of the part. Again, a lot like tonight’s opponents.

The road to Seville

When the Europa League group stages began in September, Eintracht were 25-1 to lift the trophy. Rangers, 50-1 outsiders, had begun their campaign in August. After an unconvincing 1-0 aggregate playoff win over Armenia’s Alashkert, they began their group campaign with defeats to Lyon and Sparta Prague.

Four points from two games against Brøndby got Rangers back on track before Steven Gerrard’s untimely departure. Giovanni van Bronckhorst stepped in to secure a knockout place with a 2-0 win over Sparta, only for the draw to pair them with Borussia Dortmund.

John Lundstram celebrates his goal for Rangers at Signal Iduna Park.
John Lundstram celebrates his goal for Rangers at Signal Iduna Park. Photograph: Kirk O’Rourke/Rangers/hutterstock

Travelling in hope rather than expectation, Rangers produced one of their best ever European displays to win 4-2 in Dortmund, and held on for a draw at home. Red Star Belgrade were defeated by an early onslaught at Ibrox, before a first-leg deficit to Braga in the quarter-finals was overturned in Glasgow in extra time.

Another Bundesliga side lay in wait in the last four, and after conceding a late goal in Leipzig, Rangers enjoyed another famous European night at home, with John Lundstram’s strike sealing a 3-2 aggregate win as Ibrox was shaken to its foundations.

Eintracht rolled through a tough-looking group, going through as unbeaten group winners and avoiding the playoff round. Their knockout campaign began in Seville with a 2-1 win over Betis, before meeting another Spanish side in tournament favourites Barcelona.

Eintracht Frankfurt celebrate a famous second-leg victory in Catalonia.
Eintracht Frankfurt celebrate a famous second-leg victory in Catalonia. Photograph: José Jordan/AFP/Getty Images

After Barça picked up a 1-1 draw in Germany, few expected Frankfurt’s run to continue – but they raced into a 3-0 lead at Camp Nou, backed by thousands of away fans. In the semi-finals, West Ham awaited – and Daichi Kamada’s fifth goal of the tournament sent them on their way to the final.

With so many rival supporters congregating in Seville, there have been concerns about fan trouble – but as Football Weekly regular Archie Rhind-Tutt reports, the atmosphere has generally been very cordial so far:

Made it through the heat to the Sanchez Pizjuan ahead of tonight aaaand guess what? The fans are mixing and enjoying themselves. Report on what I’ve seen and heard in Seville so far. 🥵🥳 pic.twitter.com/NCsUrWoQGP

— Archie Rhind-Tutt (@archiert1) May 18, 2022

Jonathan Wilson is in Seville, soaking up the atmosphere as thousands of fans fly in from Frankfurt and Glasgow. It’s extremely warm in southern Spain today – 35 degrees – so let’s hope everyone packed the sunscreen.

Rangers fans enjoy the sunshine in Seville ahead of the Europa League final.
Rangers fans enjoy the sunshine in Seville ahead of the Europa League final. Photograph: Jon Nazca/Reuters

Preamble

In the modern European football landscape of superclubs, tiered formats and clandestine coefficient chat, tonight offers an oasis. This final feels like a throwback to the continental classics of yore – two giant clubs with fervent fan bases making an unexpected return to the top table.

In the blue corner: Rangers, who lifted the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1972 before a long list of near misses, culminating in defeat to Zenit in the ill-fated 2008 Uefa Cup final. In the disastrous years that followed, Berwick Rangers was as close to a European away-day as they got. Few fans thought days like this would come again so soon.

In the red (black and white) corner: Eintracht Frankfurt, a side on the sharp end of one of the European Cup’s most famous scorelines. They also have one big continental pot in the cabinet – the 1980 Uefa Cup – but the years of turbulence since their heyday have earned them their “moody Diva” nickname.

Decades after their paths first crossed as pioneers in European football, the two sides meet again in Seville. The prize on offer for both is a second major European trophy – an opportunity that might not come again for another generation. Plus a place in the Champions League group stage next season; modern football still has its perks.

Kick-off at the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán is 9pm local, 8pm BST.





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