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Home   /   Europa League Final: Eintracht Frankfurt vs Glasgow Rangers

Mercury levels in Europe’s hottest city are expected to reach unprecedented heights on Wednesday. Spanish authorities are bracing themselves for the arrival of two of the continents most revered and passionate fanbases in Seville with “excitement and a certain apprehension”.

Eintracht Frankfurt and Glasgow Rangers have both done their bit in creating an edition of the UEFA Europa League that will live on in the memories of many for years to come. Upwards of 200,000 supporters are expected to descend on the Andalusian city despite only 9,500 tickets being officially allocated to each club at the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán Stadium.

Unsurprisingly, the sheer volume of fans that will make the journey has caused quite the storm in Spain. Spanish media outlet AS are forecasting economic boosts of around 60 million euros (£51 million pounds) to the local area yet there are valid security concerns. They are wary that there is the possibility of “violent” British and German fans threatening to overshadow the showpiece event.

Frankfurt supporters are already familiar with the city’s surroundings having defeated Real Betis in the last 16. Their victory was marred by clashes in the city’s Paseo de Colon district with West Ham supporters. German Ultras ambushed visiting Hammers who were playing against cross town rivals Sevilla CF at the same stage of the competition. Unsavoury images of chairs and bottles flying through the night sky soon flooded social media.

These scenes are hoping to be avoided as Seville’s out of town 60,000 seater La Cartuja stadium (where Celtic lost the 2003 UEFA Cup) is to be opened as a fan zone with big screens for ticketless Rangers fans. 

Despite this, local publican, Michael Melia said the powers that be have “underestimated the numbers” of travelling fans.

“If 60,000 go to La Cartuja, where will the other thousands go?,” he asked. “I don’t think there’s enough TVs”. Melia continued.

14 years ago, Rangers lost their last European final to Zenit Saint Petersburg in Manchester. A combination of aggressive policing, lack of fan-ready infrastructure as well as drunken and disappointed Glaswegians led to chaos and riots after the game. 

Stewart Robertson, Rangers managing director, has urged fans to behave this time round in order to avoid history repeating itself:

”To supporters with or without tickets: go and enjoy yourself. Go and enjoy the occasion. I remember in 2008 thinking, ‘will I see Rangers in a European final again?’

“Here we are. It is fantastic. Go and be a good ambassador for Rangers. We are going to a beautiful city – go and enjoy the city but let’s go and do it in the right way.

“Regardless of numbers, go and do it, respect the city, respect the locals. There will be people going about their day-to-day business.” Robertson concluded.

Club legend Graeme Souness also reiterated these views, pleading with Gers fans to “not create negative headlines.” 

With similar numbers from Frankfurt also said to be attending, all areas of the city will be utilised. The famous Plaza de Espana will be a main hub for those with tickets. UEFA and its sponsors are funding the entertainment and there will be a stage for live music.

Manuel Cornax, president of the Association of Hoteliers of Seville and Province, is upbeat and looking forward to the main event.

Cornax said: ”This event confirms Seville as the city of sport with another great event,

“Our ability to organise this type of event, the organisation of public services and our hospitality will be watched by the whole world.

“The city will be a showcase to tell everyone exactly what Seville offers.”

A major headache for many fans has been the cost of getting to the south of Spain. Return flights from both the UK and Germany have surpassed the £1000 mark. Many have accused the airline industry of exploiting loyal fans of both clubs. This will not deter the masses, however, with every route imaginable being explored.

Former Scotland and Rangers star forward Ally McCoist weighed into the debate in a typically jovial manner that only he knows how.

McCoist said: “I tell you right now, I would go to the cliffs of Dover and put myself in one of those cannons like the circus, put a crash helmet on and get fired across the channel to go and see the Rangers in Seville.

“That’s what I would do. If there are any circuses out there and they want to sponsor me. I am willing to do that.

“Get myself in a cannon and as long as they have a big massive net round about Calais for me to land, that would be marvellous.”

Back on the pitch, it’s an almost impossible final to call. Both clubs have had remarkable successes en route to the final. 

It’s a combined 92 years since either won a major trophy on the European stage. It almost feels appropriate that one of these sleeping giants that have faced such hardships in recent times shall break that duck in Seville.

Despite a horrendous Bundesliga campaign for their standards, Oliver Glasner’s Eintracht have turned on the style in each European round and most notably put Barcelona to the sword at a raucous Camp Nou. 

Those historic scenes reverberated around world football yet they’d be fools to underestimate Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s Rangers.

The blue half of Glasgow produced a magical display at the Signal Iduna Park to knock out joint favourites Borussia Dortmund in the last 16. The Gers then went on the overturn a first leg deficit against a strong Red Bull Leipzig at a deafening Ibrox last time out. 

Could they see off another German outfit and make more history on the night?

Frankfurt’s Austrian international Martin Hinteregger is an integral part of the defensive unit and had been in doubt for the final. Yet against all odds he could be making a timely comeback according to club captain and former Bayern Munich man Sebastian Rode.

Rode said: ”He’s already working very hard. He is out cycling and running. He believes nothing is impossible and thinks he has a chance of playing”

Unfortunately, Danish attacker Jesper Lindstrom looks set to fail to recover from his hamstring injury and SGE will be without him.

Rangers also face setbacks with Kemar Roofe, Ryan Jack and experienced Aaron Ramsey in doubt ahead of the game. Alfredo Morelos remains out but Rangers will be ready no matter what.

All eyes now turn to Seville as the minutes tick down ahead of what is already guaranteed to be a historical final.

Henry Smout

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