European Cup: Historical justice for Eintracht Frankfurt

EIt would take a long time, it was more than clear. “As I got to know Eintracht Frankfurt this year, they are very well organized – especially when it comes to partying,” said Markus Krösche, the new sports director who arrived last summer when it was already after one in the morning. Eventually it went until after sunrise, for the time being and only at the final venue in Seville. Because in Frankfurt on Thursday, hundreds of thousands were waiting for their Europa League winners.

Their declared favorite competition, which players, club and fans so flattered with words and deeds – now they have actually won it.

On the lawn of the Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán, coach Oliver Glasner slipped through a trellis of his players to present the trophy. Gold glitter rained down, then the club’s DJ took over. He played the old hit club song where “Deutsche Bank Park” can still be called Waldstadion. And the wonderfully groovy Gaga hit “Mercy, the Hesse come” from Neue Deutsche Welle. The players gave the first interviews. Captain Sebastian Rode still had the dried blood from a collision in the early stages glued to his forehead, despite all the sweat, like the trophy from the memorable and infinitely intense evening.

Frankfurt ran 151.9 kilometers

Yes, they finally won about three hours inside the game, and who thought it would be easy? This final against Glasgow Rangers “was not a match where one played the other,” as club president Peter Fischer put it. But one of two teams with their footballing boundaries but without boundaries in their hearts, touchingly generous in their attitude, free of fools and accompanied by a referee who whistled almost nothing and still gave plenty of break time at the top, after 45 minutes, after 90, after 105 and after 120. A match in which Frankfurt alone ran a total of 151.9 kilometers in Seville’s heath and after a long season.

Brilliant achievement just before the end of extra time: Kevin Trapp (right) fended off Ryan Kent’s shot with his foot

Source: AP / Pablo Garcia

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“What you always dream of as a child”: This is how Ansgar Knauff, 20, who is still not very old, summed up the emotional world after Rafael Borré turned the decisive punishment into Eintracht. “It’s nice that the journey does not end now, but continues next year,” Knauff added. Then Eintracht Frankfurt will play in the Champions League. Seen in pool one as Europa League winners, as Bayern Munich, Paris St. Germain, Real Madrid.

The journey, the road. “Our way”: Words like this kept getting mixed up in the analyzes. They fit not only because of the fans’ enthusiasm for mobility, which had characterized the Europa Cup dance and experienced a new highlight in Seville with countless spectators (as with the Scots).

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Hardly any continental club comes from as far away as the Eintracht. By 1980, she had won her last and only international title, the Uefa Cup. After that, she initially played for the championship with fantastic football, unforgettable the uncrowned teams around Uwe Bein, Andi Möller and Anthony Yeboha. But quickly it went far downhill, down to the second division. A laborious reconstruction followed, in which the once so “atmospheric diva” outwardly appeared more dull than ever before, but reconciled with herself within, thereby triggering an unseen love in the city. The title in Sevilla was won by a club that knows exactly what it wants to be.

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The team also had to negotiate many bends. She kept changing face; if a player stood out, he usually soon went somewhere else. Less than half of the team that accidentally lost on penalties in the Europa League semi-final to Chelsea three years ago are still at the club. At the time, an excellent offensive trio of Ante Rebic, Sebastién Haller and Luka Jovic seemed to have missed the chance of the century. Would you ever have such a team again?

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Eintracht Frankfurt fans celebrate after winning the Europa League final against Rangers

Historical justice now produced a team of unusual suspects. There was one like Knauff who rolled into his fortune as a tenant from Dortmund after the winter break. There were substitutes who formed an emergency defense in extended playing time that has never existed and will never again. And there were especially the two match winners: the man at the back and the man at the front.

Kevin Trapp – World Class

For years, Kevin Trapp was somewhat in the direction of number three on the national team in public. Solid keeper, good guy, no problems. When he wanted to break out of his role and switch to the flamboyant Paris St. Germain, he caught up with a historic 6-1 loss to Barcelona in 2017, and soon the big club adventure was over.

This season, by advancing to the quarterfinals at the same venue at the Camp Nou, he visibly drove away the demons he had long ago set aside for himself. Otherwise, you can not endure as he has done all along. In Sevilla, he underlined his central role for Eintracht with an almost supernatural save in the 118th minute against Ryan Kent, who appeared nearby. Not just solid, world class.

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The fact that he would save at least one penalty kick in the ensuing penalty shootout – all Frankfurters subsequently emphasized this confidence in their goalkeeper: it gave their own shooter a lot of security. The saved penalty kick ended up being Aaron Ramsey’s fourth. In the end, only Rafael Borré had to score.

And Borré scored, just as he had done in the darkest moments after lying 1-0 down at the nearest post to equalize. The center-forward was the second hero among the heroes, for of course “we are all”, as Trapp emphasized, but someone has to score the decisive goals. And just Borré had not believed so many, not this season and not before.

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The professional himself later remembered that the place in the final made the triumph even more special for him. “I started my career in Europe very young in Spain. And many people did not think I was ready for moments like this. ” Atlético Madrid bought him when he was 19 and never gave him a chance.

Eintracht Frankfurt

Goal of winning the Europa League: Rafael Santos Borre converted the decisive penalty kick for Eintracht Frankfurt

Source: Getty Images / David Ramos

He ended up back in South America after an unproductive loan spell at Villarreal. He won the Copa Libertadores, similar to the Champions League, with the Argentine top club River Plate and proved to be one of the continent’s best goalkeepers. It was a great transfer success for Frankfurt that they were able to acquire him for free this summer. But the level differences between South America and Europe are now very large. Borré did not hit much. Only adaptation problems or still none for Europe? Goals in Barcelona and against West Ham United in the semi-finals allayed doubts. She smashed the final against Rangers.

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Eintracht Frankfurt v Rangers FC - UEFA Europa League Final 2021/22

Trapp, Borré, the template provider Filip Kostic, Rode, Knauff and what they are now called: They have won the first Europa Cup in the current millennium, which goes to Germany, but not to Bayern Munich. And if they were underestimated, what about their coach. Glasner – the Austrian who came from Wolfsburg. In the Bundesliga, he never moved Eintracht from the spot. But in the Europa League against teams of FC Barcelona’s caliber, but also from Betis Sevilla and West Ham, she presented herself tactically excellently.

As a small favorite, Frankfurt had it much harder against the Scots. Working on a more dominant gaming culture remains one of the challenges of the new era for Lostopf-eins-Champions-League-Club Eintracht Frankfurt. But finals like the one on Wednesday are there to win. You do not have to worry about the party afterwards. Especially not in Frankfurt.

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