Eintracht Frankfurt daring to believe in Europa League dream | Sports | German football and major international sports news | DW

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The city of Seville is in for a wild ride. Eintracht Frankfurt are coming.

The Europa League finalists took 30,000 to Barcelona, ​​and about 10,000 to London.

Now the sea of ​​white that ‘welcomed’ West Ham to Thursday night’s semifinal at the Waldstadion, and then sent them packing with a pitch invasion, will descend on the southern Spanish city for one last push.

“Whether we have to take a four-hour plane or a 2,000-kilometer, 20-hour drive, we’ll be there,” said one fan.

It’s almost certain Eintracht will have a traveling contingent that exceeds their allocated 10,000 tickets in Seville for the final against Rangers. And for a club that has lost it’s former lofty status and become accustomed to falling short over the last few decades, it’s time for them to start believing.

Waldstadion turns it on

Indeed while most fans admitted to holding nerves pre-game, the atmosphere was at least positive at fan pub Moselecke, which blared out Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin” as kick-off drew closer.

And for any home fans who still had doubts, the Waldstadion soon turned the mood.

For West Ham, lining up facing the intimidating Nordwestkurve, there must have been a sliver of momentary panic, however fleeting. Throughout the next 90 minutes, the 45,000-odd Eintracht fans were either bellowing out boisterous support for the home side, or sending down a deluge of deafening whistles that made it near impossible to think.

Despite the volatile welcome party, the Hammers started brightly, but soon unraveled when Jens Petter Hauge coaxed Aaron Cresswell into a last-man challenge on the edge of the box.

By the time West Ham coach David Moyes received his own marching orders for angrily booting a ball at a supposedly lacklustre ball boy with 10 minutes to play, the tie was all but won for Frankfurt thanks to Rafael Borre’s goal on the night.

‘This is Frankfurt’

As full-time approached, Eintracht’s ultras started lining the hoardings in a frantic frenzy, before bursting through a reluctant security line to storm the pitch at the final whistle.

A 1-0 win on the night, a 3-1 victory on aggregate. And for president Peter Fischer, an appropriate response from the fans.

“This is Frankfurt, the city deserves it. Look at this, that’s joie de vivre, that’s football. I’m so proud, “he told broadcaster RTL as fans mobbed him on the pitch.

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UEFA may not see the pitch invasion in such a positive light, but it’s a first major European final in 42 years for Eintracht – they defeated Borussia Mönchengladbach in 1980 to lift the old UEFA Cup. And for a club with such a fervent fan base, it’s been a long time coming.

European football is better off having Eintracht involved, as the trips to Barcelona and London showed, as well as their 2018-19 campaign which saw them fall agonisingly short after a penalty loss to Chelsea in the semifinals.

Victory in Seville would send them back to the Champions League, for the first time since losing the European Cup final to Real Madrid way back in 1960.

2022 is the year of redemption. 2022 is the year Eintracht return to the big time. Well, it could be. There’s still the small matter of Rangers to overcome.

“Up until now, it’s the best day of my career,” goalkeeper Kevin Trapp said. “Now we just have one more game. We want to bring the thing home now.”

Tradition vs. Tradition

Their opponents, Rangers, have also surprised many with the run to the final. They denied an all-German affair by upsetting RB Leipzig with a 3-2 aggregate win.

And it’s a fixture Fischer clearly favored, after he sent out a thinly-veiled barb with his response to Leipzig’s elimination.

“Glasgow is one of the really big traditional clubs. This is tradition versus tradition. With world-class fans. It does not get better than this,” he said.

It does indeed feel like a fitting finale, two clubs from a bygone era, reemerging among an uncertain, and arguably stale, European environment which is constantly threatened by the emergence of a Super League.

While most of the world will be enthralled by the same-old big teams clashing once again in the Champions League final – a 2018 rematch between Liverpool and Real Madrid – the purists will be keeping a closer eye on the competition’s little brother.

Eintracht are now just one game away from not only lifting a major piece of silverware again, but also a return to the continent’s premer club competition. One whose riches can transform newcomers’ fortunes in their quest to gaining a small foothold in a financially-skewed landscape.

It’s time for Eintracht Frankfurt to start believing. After years in the European wilderness, the continent is starting to wake up to what this football club has to offer. And the fans are starting to buy into the hype too.

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