It wasn’t the glittering German champion Bayern Munich, nor was second-in-command Borussia Dortmund. Both disappointed by their premature eliminations in the Champions League. If anything, other teams are now tasked with making German football stand out in European competitions.
Both Eintracht Frankfurt and RB Leipzig arrive with an advantage on the scoreboard to face their second leg matches in the Europa League semifinals this Thursday (05.05.2022) against West Ham United and Glasgow Rangers, respectively.
Eintracht already won 2:1 away in the first leg, played in London against the “Hammers”, while Leipzig beat Scottish Rangers 1:0 at home and now it is up to them to complete the mission in noisy Glasgow.
A reunion with history
As favourites, both teams have a strong chance of repeating an all-German final the likes of which had not been seen since 1980. The tournament was then still called the UEFA Cup before being renamed the Europa League in 2009.
It was on May 21 of that year, the exact date when Eintracht beat Borussia Mönchengladbach’s “colts” at home with a solitary goal by Fred Schaub at minute 81. After coming on as a replacement, only three minutes were enough for Schaub to seal the only Europa League title in the history of the Frankfurt “eagles”.
Although the score was 3:3 on aggregate, the criterion of the away goal gave the cup to Frankfurt thanks to the two goals achieved in Mönchengladbach. Incidentally, “eagles” and “colts” will meet again this weekend in the penultimate date of the Bundesliga, again at the Deutsche Bank Park in Frankfurt, formerly known as Waldstadion from 1925 to 2005.
The Japanese Daichi Kamada with the number 15 of Eintracht Frankfurt put the definitive 2:1 against the “Hammers” in London
Thus, in Frankfurt they bet everything on European conquest. Oliver Glasner’s team has given the bell after confirming their serious aspirations, after beating Xavi’s Barcelona in the quarterfinals, the wide favorite.
If the procedure is sealed at home against West Ham’s “Hammers” tonight, Frankfurt would rediscover the possibility of fighting for the second European title in its history. But its rival is aware of the danger that lies ahead: “We need to be careful in set pieces and counterattacks. It will be a special game”, said West Ham’s Czech footballer, Vladimir Coufal.
Same opportunity, different times
Although in Frankfurt they yearn for titles that fall by the dropper, nobody refutes the extensive tradition of said institution at the level of German football. But many times the weight of history does not do justice to a present devoid of titles. However, that fury at waving the flags does not wane despite his unsuccessful harvest of titles.
That is why Eintracht Frankfurt is recognized: its faithful fans is a factor that could tip the balance in its favor today that it caresses European glory again, 42 years later.
Glasgow Rangers’ Scott Wright (centre) is chased by RB players at the Europa League semi-final idea at Red Bull Arena on April 28
On the other side there is talk of broad youth. RB Leipzig, the only East German club in the first division of the Bundesliga, reached the top circuit of German football only in 2016 and is already seeking the first European final in its young history. The route to Seville passes through one last customs office at Ibrox Park in Glasgow.
Opposite you have Rangers, one of the most popular teams in Scottish football. Without options to fight for the title of champion of Scotland, the club goes “all-in” for the Europa League, of which they played the final in 2008 and lost against the Russian Zenit Saint Petersburg.
Frankfurt and Leipzig are very close to saving the honor of the Bundesliga in Europe, it is the last call.