The European Cup creates its own moments, big and small; especially at Eintracht Frankfurt. Two weeks ago, not only was the whole semi-final second leg sung in the Waldstadion, but the half-time program was also accompanied. And so 50,000 people sang in chorus: “The spaceship floats, completely detached from the earth, completely weightless.” Right into the second half.
One final entry with a peaceful space storm later, the whole of Frankfurt still feels weightless. Because this Wednesday, Eintracht is back in a European Cup final after 42 years: the eleventh in the Bundesliga could actually win the Europa League against Glasgow Rangers. And almost the whole of football Germany is rooting for the action when it starts at 9 p.m. in Seville (live on RTL).
It’s been 25 years since a German club lifted the second most important trophy in Europe. Since the Schalke sensation in 1997 and the simultaneous triumph of BVB, only Bayern Munich has won the title on a continental level. Werder Bremen was last in the Uefa Cup final in 2009.
The competition has long had a different name, but there is hope again for the Bundesliga middle class: A world with another German European Cup winner is conceivable. Even for Eintracht Frankfurt. The table-15. The second half of the season just ended is a very different team at international level – one that won 2-1 at Betis Sevilla, 3-2 at FC Barcelona and 2-1 at West Ham United in 2022.
Frankfurt did it with a lot of passion. “When you talk about Europe, every player and fan immediately smiles,” Eintracht coach Oliver Glasner told Uefa.com. “The fans transmit that to us in the stadium, it helps the players especially in difficult phases.”
The euphoria is correspondingly high, not only in Hesse. Up to 50,000 Frankfurt fans are said to make their way to Andalusia, plus up to 100,000 Rangers fans from Scotland. It could unexpectedly be one of the hottest finals in years. And not because the thermometer is supposed to show 35 degrees during the day and 30 degrees at kick-off in the Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán.
Uefa gave the final to the smallest of Seville’s three stadiums with 42,000 seats. The association had no idea that two such emotional finalists would turn their event into an event. Around 100,000 ticket holders are expected to romp around outside the arena and transform the fourth largest city in Spain into a – hopefully peaceful – German-Scottish public viewing. Because both fan camps have the feeling that they have finally earned the title.
Eintracht now wants to complete the furious Europa-Run 2019, which only ended in a penalty shoot-out at Chelsea, one more round and also honor Jürgen Grabowski, the club legend who died in March. With him, Eintracht won the Uefa Cup in 1980 in a German duel with Gladbach.
But Rangers also have their own now-more than ever narrative: 150 years after the club was founded, 50 years after the last European Cup victory and, above all, only ten years after bankruptcy in 2012, when they had to start over after a tax scandal in the fourth division, should the big title come from. And they hardly think about the semifinals in 1960, which Frankfurt won 6:1 and 6:3.
The current performance of the Scottish record champions (55 titles!) is impressive: Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s team knocked out Dortmund and Leipzig on their way to the final. Even if Rangers scored the most goals in the competition, Eintracht, who are still undefeated, should be considered slightly favourites, even if defender Martin Hinteregger is injured.
“I expect a hard-fought game at eye level,” said Glasner, who could win the European Cup as the first Austrian coach since Ernst Happel. “Both teams play very physically; British football is very physical, but one of our strengths is that we can also play very physically.” So nerves could decide in the end. Or the cheering in the stadium.
In terms of sport, there may be more filigree duels than that between two teams that are more fighting than playing, whose most dangerous players are Filip Kostic and James Tavernier on the outside. Emotionally, however, it can be a weightless final night. Participation in the Champions League beckons the winner. Either way, there should be singing around midnight in Seville, completely detached from the final score.