Whilst most Rangers fans would have bitten your hand off earlier this season for a story-book European run, the reality of being just 90 minutes away from lifting silverware should tell you everything you need to know about the weight of expectation riding on Wednesday’s final.

Between the 55-time Scottish champions and only their second-ever international title are Eintracht Frankfurt, a German Bundesligist and most recently German cup winners in 2018.

Like Rangers, “Die Adler” have enjoyed a historic European campaign, winning a difficult group consisting of Fenerbahçe, Olympiacos, and Royal Antwerp, before dispatching A-listers in Real Betis, F.C. Barcelona, and West Ham United in the knockout rounds. Having yet to lose a match en-route to the final (six wins, six draws), Frankfurt could become just the third team in Europa League history to go unbeaten to the title.

More than anything though, victory could provide the culminating moment for a fanbase which has lived for continental nights over the past decade. In the last eight seasons Frankfurt have endured agonising exits in the semi-finals, last 16, and second round of this competition.

To reverse fate, Oliver Glasner’s side will need to get all aspects of their game right if they are to conquer Seville for the second time this season, and finally break the chain of successively more heart-breaking defeats with a win at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium later this week.

To detail the key characteristics, players, and areas for improvement within this Eintracht Frankfurt outfit, we’ve invited German football writer Adam Khan to give his thoughts.

Built As European Underdogs

Whether it’s Unai Emery’s Villarreal or Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid, there are simply clubs around the continent who are built for knockout competition. Eintracht Frankfurt, are no exception.

With just 41 points after 33 matchdays, Die Adler are in a disappointing 12th spot in the 18-team Bundesliga, yet in Europe they have been enthralling giant killers.

A big reason for this is Oliver Glasner’s propensity to exploit sides on the counter. Frankfurt look to break with speed in an aggressive 3-4-2-1 that commits multiple players into attacking phases.

Against elite opposition in the Europa League the German outfit are often afforded the opportunity to sit back and exploit transition moments, whereas in the Bundesliga, Frankfurt are regarded as one of the top six sides and thus need to contend with breaking down low blocks.

This has undoubtedly had an effect on their ultimate performance, drawing or winning seven of eight matches against the likes of F.C. Barcelona, West Ham United, RB Leipzig, and FC Bayern this season, but dropping points in five of their eight matches against the Bundesliga’s bottom four.

Though it shouldn’t come as a surprise, this fragility when operating in the favourite role should come as a major advantage for Rangers.

After a run-in against Real Betis, FC Barcelona, and West Ham United, The Gers are the first side Frankfurt face in the knockout stages that have an estimated market value (according to Transfermarkt) less than the German outfit (see below for a more in-depth breakdown).

Rangers Review:

This will demand the five-time German cup winners take a proactive stance in possession, and slot into a role they have struggled with all season.

In the 17 Bundesliga matches in which Frankfurt held more than 50% of possession the German outfit managed to win on just four occasions, whereas the remaining 16 matches in which they were dominated on the ball Die Adler boast a more impressive record of six wins, five draws, and five losses.

Had their possession dominance (over 50%) carried over across the entire Bundesliga season, Frankfurt would now have approximately five points fewer to their name, whereas their possession inferiority (less than 50%) average would see them earn approximately 46 points in 34 matches and move up three places in the table.

That’s a NINE point swing in Frankfurt’s favour when they see less of the ball!

Rangers Review: Eintracht Frankfurt conceded slightly more goals per game when they see less of the ball, but their goals for and points per game average goes through the roof.Eintracht Frankfurt conceded slightly more goals per game when they see less of the ball, but their goals for and points per game average goes through the roof.

With Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s tactics proving more than capable of stifling some of the most dominant technical outfits (say, Borussia Dortmund or RB Leipzig), exposing a Frankfurt side which has routinely struggled to assert their dominance is well within their powers.

Should Rangers fail to adhere to the warning sign though, the German visitors have more than enough attacking potential to seamlessly slice through a disorganised defence.

The Key Player

Whereas Rangers’ previous opponents had a clear superstar in the form of Christopher Nkunku, at Eintracht Frankfurt there isn’t necessarily one player that has stood head-and-shoulders over teammates this season.

Filip Kostić is perhaps the most obvious option, with the Serbian midfielder leading all of Europe in crosses completed and joint-second in the Europa league scorer charts, but it’s truly been a collective effort from the entire squad in this 12 match run.

Thus, rather than featuring on the pitch, the key player may come off it, in the form of the tens of thousands of fans that will end up filling the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium next Wednesday.

Though Eintracht Frankfurt (like Rangers) were only allocated 10,000 tickets, such juristic measures never stopped them in the past as over 30,000 took over the Camp Nou in early April.

Rangers’ own 12th-man should be the perfect antidote to help drown out Frankfurt’s dominance in the stands, but the fans from the Scottish champions will need to be at their very best if they are to ensure the tie doesn’t tip in Frankfurt’s favour.

The last time Frankfurt made it all the way to the semi-finals of this competition, Die Adler also didn't lose a single match on German soil, so ensuring that the travelling Frankfurt contingent aren't able to turn the final into a home atmosphere will be crucial to settle the nerves within this Rangers squad.

The formula of Success for Rangers F.C.

It's once again important to address just how key it will be for Rangers to allow Frankfurt to assume dominance of possession if they want to elevate their chances of lifting silverware this Wednesday.

Though Die Adler are an exceptional counter-attacking outfit with copious amounts of pace, final third trickery, and elite aerial delivery, in controlled build-up phases the side have struggled all season.

When in possession, it’s clear that Rangers should attack through the wide channels.

Given that the 3-4-1-2 formation provides three central defenders and two defensive midfielders crowding the centre of the park, space is available out wide for the Scottish outfit to exploit.

Neither Frankfurt flank is blessed with a truly dominant defensive fullback, but the left channel in particular will be an area of concern for Oliver Glasner.

Only James Tavernier has contributed more goals and assists than Filip Kostić in the UEL this season, but the 45-time Serbian international's excellent attacking output isn’t necessarily paired with a similar defensive performance.

Kostić has won just one of his nine attempted tackles in 11 Europa League matches, whilst his pressure win percentage presents equally bleak reading as the former VFB Stuttgart and Hamburger SV fullback has come out on top just 23% of the time.

The Prediction

As is so often the case in continental finals, tactical expectations, prior form, and individual quality is often overshadowed as the magnitude of the event and nervous energy takes over.

With so little splitting the pair ahead of Wednesday’s showdown, it could end up being the side that can deal with this pressure better which will ultimately prevail. Given that neither Rangers nor Frankfurt have a player likely to start that has ever played in a major European final, it will be interesting to see how the individuals on the pitch react under intense pressure and a massive atmosphere.

For the sake of not offending the reader by sitting on the fence though, I will go with a Rangers' victory in extra time.

Frankfurt have struggled all season against weaker sides who are willing to bunker in, and if there is anything Rangers have been capable of throughout their Europa League run, it is remaining strong and resolute in their defensive structure.

With defensive leader Martin Hinteregger ruled out of the final for Frankfurt, and Rangers ready to welcome back a fully fit duo Aaron Ramsey and Kemar Roofe, there may just be enough for the Gers to pull of the next miracle on Spanish soil 50 years after their Cup Winners Cup triumph in the Camp Nou.