OLIVER Glasner and his Eintracht Frankfurt players had a definite Eurovision heading into their final Bundesliga match of the season against Mainz this afternoon.

Glasner stated earlier this week he would use the league meeting with their local rivals at the MEWA Arena as a dress rehearsal for the Europa League final against Rangers in Seville on Wednesday night and he was true to his word.

The Deutsche Bank Park outfit were in 12th place in the table going into encounter so they had nothing to play for apart from pride. Nevertheless, the strongest side available to their coach took to the field before kick-off.

But long before the annual carnival of kitsch got underway in Turin last night, Eintracht showed they are not entirely on song ahead of their biggest match in modern times.

Martin Hinteregger, their Austrian centre half and vice-captain, is out injured for the rest of the season and Jesper Lindstrom, their Danish winger who is fighting to be fit for next week, were missing from the starting XI.

Yet, there was just one change to the team that defeated West Ham 1-0 last week to complete a 3-1 aggregate victory over their Premier League rivals in the Europa League semi-final.

Almamy Toure, their Malian full-back, came in on the right side of the three man defence and Tutu, their Brazilian centre back, took over from Hinteregger in the middle.

But the pre-match huddle skipper Sebastian Rode formed did little to galvanise the new-look line-up. Moussa Niakhate and his team mates quickly took complete control of proceedings and applied sustained pressure to visitors who made a string of poor decisions and careless errors and at times looked in complete disarray.

The opener in the 10th minute was very much with the run of play. Evan Ndicka did well to clear an Anton Stach shot off his line. The ball, though, broke to Marcus Ingavartsen who turned and rifled into the roof of the net much to the delight of the red wall of ultras in the safe standing stand behind the goal.   

Rangers’ representative at the game will doubtless be advising Giovanni van Bronckhorst that he takes a positive approach to the forthcoming duel in the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium and urges Ryan Kent, Scott Wright and Joe Aribo to go on the attack from the off after witnessing such a shaky start by Eintracht. Their defence is far from watertight.  

Glasner favours a 3-4-2-1 formation with lone striker Rafael Borre supported by Jens Petter Hauge and Daichi Kamada. But the trio received next to no service in the opening 20 minutes and Finn Dahmen in the home goal went untested.

Scoring early, though, caused Bo Svensson’s team to sit back and protect their lead and Glasner’s side took full advantage. They levelled in the 26th minute after being awarded a free-kick inside the Mainz half. Borre got the slightest of touches on the delivery from Filip Kostic. Dahmen palmed the header away only for Tuta to pounce on the rebound.

The equaliser stunned the home support into silence and lifted the away team. They edged in front nine minutes later when Ansgar Knauff made a powerful run upfield, barged past three players and fed Borre ahead of him. The forward slotted into the bottom left corner to take his tally for the 2021/22 campaign to 11.  

Eintracht’s domestic form this term has been as erratic as their displays in continental competition have been surprising. But their fightback in the opening 45 minutes of the derby was impressive and showcased both the quality and mental fortitude they possess in their ranks.    

Glasner removed Rode at the start of the second-half and put on Kristijan Jakic in central midfield. The change may have resulted the goal they conceded just four minutes after play resumed. They switched off and allowed Stach to ghost in from the right and square to Ingvartsen in the six yard box. The Dane turned a first-time shot beyond Kevin Trapp from a tight angle.  

Aaron hit the inside of the right post for Mainz and Eintracht enforcer Kostic had a strike ruled out for offside by referee Martin Petersen thereafter.

Glasner made a triple substitution on the hour mark. Ajdin Hrustic, Makoto Hasebe and Stefan Ilsanker took over from Hauge, Toure and Tuta respectively. The Austrian coach will be pleased to have given so many members of his squad game time ahead of the final. However, his anger was obvious as Jonathan Burkhart bundled beyond Trapp with 20 minutes remaining.

The goal, though, did not stand. Petersen checked a replay of the incident on a pitchside monitor and ruled the scorer had handled in the build-up.  

  A draw was probably a fair result at the end of the 90 minutes. Perhaps Eintracht’s players had half an eye on the greater challenge that awaits them in Andalusia next week. But they will have to give a far better account of themselves, not least at the back, to overcome Rangers and lift the second European trophy in their history.