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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.