Eintracht Frankfurt pummelled Rangers in the sides’ only previous meetings, but they were a long while ago, and the Light Blues have been making a habit of humbling Bundesliga sides this season.
It was not much of a contest when Eintracht Frankfurt and Rangers first met over 60 years ago, but the Uefa Europa League finalists both have good reasons to believe theirs will be the name on the trophy after the decider in Seville.
Eintracht’s historic upper hand
Frankfurt and Rangers’ only previous meetings came in the semifinals of the 1959/60 European Cup, the German side winning 6-1 at home and then 6-3 in Glasgow en route to a 7-3 final loss to Real Madrid. “They were the best team I’d ever seen in my life,” recalled Sir Alex Ferguson, who was among the 127 621 crowd at Hampden. “And then they got slaughtered 7-3 in the final!”
Frankfurt have not lost in four Uefa games against Scottish opponents (W3 D1); in addition to those meetings with Rangers, they eliminated Aberdeen in the first round of their victorious 1979/80 Uefa Cup campaign.
Light Blues chasing Bundesliga treble
Rangers lost their only previous final against a German side: 1-0 after extra time to Bayern München in the 1967 Cup Winners’ Cup decider in Nuremberg, which – rather gallingly – took place in Nuremberg just six days after their Glasgow rivals Celtic had been crowned European champions.
However the Light Blues’ Uefa record against German sides is a respectable W18 D15 L18, and this season they have eliminated two other Bundesliga teams from the competition, Dortmund in the knockout play-off and Leipzig in the semifinals, both of who ranked a good deal higher than Frankfurt in this season’s table.
Extra motivation for Rangers duo
German-born defender Leon Balogun has his own extra motivation for the final when he comes up against the Eagles. “I used to play for Mainz and they have quite a rivalry with Eintracht Frankfurt,” he said. “So for me, it’s personal as well. I have to make two teams proud.”
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Rangers captain James Tavernier may also have an additional bit of skin in the game; he comes into the final as the competition’s seven-goal top scorer. “Frankfurt got there for a reason, but it’s one game and we’ll fully back ourselves. We’re in this competition to win it.”
Is Seville a lucky city for Frankfurt?
Seville is staging its third major Uefa club final; Steaua Bucuresti famously beat Barcelona on penalties at the Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán Stadium in the 1986 European Cup final, while Rangers’ Old Firm rivals Celtic lost 3-2 to Porto in the 2003 Uefa Cup final at the city’s Estadio de La Cartuja.
Rangers have been to the Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán twice, losing to Sevilla in the 1962/63 Cup Winners’ Cup (0-2) and the 2009/10 Uefa Champions League group stage (0-1). Frankfurt are making their first visit to Sevilla’s home, but were in the city earlier this year, winning 2-1 at Real Betis en route to eliminating Sevilla’s city rivals in the round of 16. They also knocked out the side that ended Sevilla’s campaign in the round of 16, West Ham. Does that augur well?