Eintracht Frankfurt v Rangers: Roofe offers boost for Scots' final hopes

Kemar Roofe
Kemar Roofe is set to return from a knee injury to feature in Wednesday’s Europa League final
Europa League final: Eintracht Frankfurt v Rangers
Venue: Estadio Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan, Seville Date: Wednesday, 18 May Kick-off: 20:00 BST
Coverage: Listen to live commentary on Sportsound and follow live text updates on the BBC Sport website & app

Rangers’ bid to clinch the Europa League has been given a huge boost with the return of striker Kemar Roofe.

The 29-year-old has not played since injuring a knee in the Scottish Cup semi-final win over Celtic on April 17.

But manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst may well call upon the man with 17 goals this term for the showpiece against Eintracht Frankfurt in Seville on Wednesday night.

“He is important and I am happy for him,” said the Rangers boss.

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“He is there and ready to play a part.”

Rangers will be without long-term absentees Alfredo Morelos, Ianis Hagi and Filip Helander but are otherwise expected to have a fully-fit squad.

The return of Jamaica international Roofe will offer an out-and-out striking option which Van Bronckhorst was short of in both legs of their semi-final against RB Leipzig.

In Germany Rangers struggled for creativity before bringing the tie home at a raucous Ibrox the following week in extra time.

James Tavernier kicked things off that night with a goal which means he is currently the Europa League’s top marksman.

Frankfurt’s Daichi Kamada is two behind, and the Rangers captain is hopeful he will have a double celebration inside the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium.

“I would like to finish this competition lifting the trophy and as the top scorer, but my main priority is keeping a clean sheet tomorrow night,” said the Englishman.

“I wouldn’t be here without the great team behind us, it means the world to me.

“We all want to make history and bring that trophy home. We will leave everything on the pitch.”

What about Frankfurt?

It has been a mixed bag of a season for the team facing the Scots in the sweltering Spanish heat.

A pretty mediocre domestic campaign ended with a 2-2 draw away to Mainz, leaving them 11th in the Bundesliga table.

In truth their run away from Europe has been poor for some time, with Frankfurt’s last league win coming in March against Bochum.

An eight-game domestic winless run has been punctured with some truly magic moments to offer pangs of hope for the thousands travelling to Seville from central Germany.

Oliver Glasner’s team have not lost in Europe all season, while Barcelona and West Ham have both been sent packing in recent rounds.

In attack, Rafael Borre is the man to stop. In the league he is Frankfurt’s leading scorer with a rather modest tally of eight, however, goals against Barcelona and West Ham have been key to his side’s progression.

So who is the man in the middle?

Referee Slavko Vincic will officiate the final as he completes a special hat-trick of his own.

The Slovenian was fourth official at last year’s final between Villarreal and Manchester United in Gdańsk, and an additional assistant referee for the 2017 final between Ajax and Manchester United in Stockholm.

“I want to be the right referee for this match,” said the 42-year-old, who owns a company in the metal industry.

“I’m full of emotion, pride and happiness. And I’m also aware of the great sense of responsibility.

“Now, it’s important to keep myself on solid ground, focus and prepare mentally and physically together with my team, so that we’re totally ready for the challenge of this final.”

Some like it hot…

The only thing hotter than a spare ticket for Wednesday’s game is the temperature it’s set to be played in.

Fans gathering at various fan zones, including the stunning Plaza de Espana, on Tuesday afternoon did so in 35 degree heat, with that figure predicted not to drop too much by the time Tavernier leads Rangers out. With most of the stadium uncovered, the players may not be the only ones needing a water break.

For the venue itself, Rangers supporters will be buoyed by a couple of promising omens. On the facade, a gigantic mosaic grabs the attention. Included on it is a small blue and white crest with GR (Glasgow Rangers), in tribute to the Glasgow side’s victory over Sevilla in the 1962 European Cup Winners’ Cup.

As if that wasn’t enough, as well as being partly founded by a group of Scots, Sevilla also boasted former Rangers manager Jock Wallace as boss back in the eighties.

Mosaic outside Sevilla's stadium
The mosaic outside Sevilla’s stadium has a small crest dedicated to Rangers (second from top on the right)

Match stats

  • This will be the third major European final held in Seville. Steaua Bucuresti beat Barcelona on penalties in the 1986 European Cup at Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan and Porto defeated Celtic in the 2003 Uefa Cup at Estadio La Cartuja.
  • This is Eintracht’s third European final. They lost in the 1960 European Cup against Real Madrid at Hampden before beating Borussia Monchengladbach to lift the 1980 Uefa Cup.
  • Rangers are the first Scottish club to reach a final since they did so themselves in the Uefa Cup in 2008. They have now reached five finals, which is as many as every other Scottish side combined.
  • These sides have played each other twice, with Eintracht winning the 1960 European Cup semi-final 12-4 on aggregate.
  • Rangers lost their first two Europa League group games this season against Lyon and Sparta Prague without scoring. They have become the first team in competition history to reach the final after doing so.
  • Eintracht are unbeaten in the Europa League this season, and could become only the third side to win the competition without being losing a game, after Chelsea in 2018-19 and Villarreal in 2020-21.
  • Rangers have already eliminated two German clubs in Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig. Should they lift the trophy, they will become the first team to eliminate three clubs from a single nation in one season.
  • Rangers have played 14 matches in Spain and have won only once (D3 L10). That was the only other time they have played as a neutral side, defeating Dinamo Moscow in the 1972 Cup Winners’ Cup final. Eintracht have played six matches in Spain and are unbeaten in their last five.
  • Van Bronckhorst could become the first Dutch manager to claim the trophy since Dick Advocaat, whose Zenit St Petersburg side beat Rangers in 2008.
  • Right-back James Tavernier is the top scorer in the competition, with his seven goals the most ever by a Rangers player in a single European campaign. Daichi Kamada is Eintracht’s top scorer in with five.

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