Rangers are in the frying pan of Spain – and that’s what it boils down to when the Europa League trophy is online

James Tavernier is just a game away from joining John Greig as captain of Rangers who has won European trophies – the only other in the history of the Govan team and one of only three Scottish club skippers to have done so.

What’s at stake here in Seville, the frying pan of Spain, doesn’t come across often and Rangers are in hot pursuit of making history.

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“It’s different from Glasgow, that’s for sure,” coach Giovanni van Bronckhorst said of the afternoon heat at his pre-game press conference. There have been some scorching European nights at Ibrox this season, but nothing compares to what this Rangers side will experience at the Estadio Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan against Eintracht Frankfurt.

Rangers captain James Tavernier trains ahead of the Europa League final against Eintracht Frankfurt at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium.

“We are here now, we see the difference in the attention we have from the media, you look at the stadium and we also have the press conference – all because we reached the final,” continued van Bronckhorst. “But when you play in big games and finals you get so much attention. We have to make sure we’re focused on our game.

“Obviously it’s a big game and it comes with pressure because you have the opportunity, the chance to win a big prize. But in any top-level sport, you need a bit of pressure to perform well. We have to do that.”

At a time when UEFA tournaments are weighted against representatives from our own SPFL, what place would it take in the big European victories of Scottish teams? The Rangers’ gradual improvement in this competition and the country’s coefficient is significant but would be surpassed by this almighty performance.

Nor is the question of magnitude limited to the magnitude of a possible victory.

Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst has shown great tactical awareness throughout the Europa League campaign.

All Rangers roads led to Seville this week and a huge crowd followed the team to Spain. Judging by the increasing prevalence of fans in the southern costas, this city may not have the capacity to accommodate them.

Seville’s 44,000-capacity stadium is certainly not big enough, and the demand, interest and expectation to be here is such that UEFA has opened a second stadium – Estadio de La Cartuja – for ticketed fans to gather and watch on big screens. Ironically, it can hold 13,000 more fans than the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan.

The suitability of the venue has rightly been questioned, but this manicured stadium, nestled among streets lined with purple flowering trees, provides an idyllic backdrop for Rangers’ potential moment in the sun.

“Obviously it’s a shame some aren’t coming to the stadium, but we’re very proud of the support we’re getting,” said Rangers midfielder Ryan Jack. “We’re the lucky ones that are going to be here and going to play the finals because if you will, there’s 100,000 people who want to be in our position, so we just have to go out there and do a good job of them proud.”

Rangers are hoping to get their hands on the Europa League trophy.

Anticipation has been building in and around Seville since Rangers’ arrival on Monday night.

Eintracht Frankfurt, whose players flew in yesterday, also have a sizeable following but the Scottish side have been on form lately. The Bundesliga side have to look back more than two months to record four wins. For Rangers, it’s just a fortnight. That quartet also includes that epic night against RB Leipzig in the second leg of the semifinals that sparked the rush for planes, trains and cars to old Andalusia.

All this in the face of adversity must be heeded. The Rangers roster has shrunk due to injuries to key players. But while dealing with a dwindling squad, van Bronckhorst was getting more and more out of what remained.

First defender Filip Helander missed the group stage, then creative midfielder Ianis Hagi fell in front of Borussia Dortmund in January with a knee injury. Talismanic striker Alfredo Morelos fell out from the quarterfinals.

His usual replacement, Kemar Roofe, has been absent since mid-April and missed both games against RB Leipzig. His return to fitness gives Rangers hope, but their prospects here are based on more than fingers crossed.

Van Bronckhorst’s tactical prowess has grown in difficult times, with successful systems designed to make the best of every situation, even eliminating Leipzig without a recognized striker. The selection and system employed didn’t initially work in Germany but the perseverance paid off and led to one of the most memorable nights and performances Ibrox have ever seen with a 3-1 win in the second leg. Also worth mentioning are the victories over Borussia Dortmund and Red Star Belgrade on the way to Seville. There have been so many success stories.

They staged a Midsummer Night’s Tale in Seville, far from the start of this competitive campaign, an edgy, Covid-hampered aggregate win over Armenians Alashkert 17 games ago, where semi-final goalscorer and new Rangers support favorite John Lundstram was sent-off.

Rangers have played the most games of any team this Europa League season as qualifying play-off finalists and then runners-up and now it’s heading towards this last one.

After such a monumental, protracted and memorable season, just 90 minutes – and maybe extra time or even penalties – separate Rangers not only from the Europa League trophy but from a seismic success for that club and the history of Scottish football.

https://www.scotsman.com/sport/football/rangers/rangers-are-in-frying-pan-of-spain-and-it-all-boils-down-to-this-with-europa-league-trophy-on-line-3698178 Rangers are in the frying pan of Spain – and that’s what it boils down to when the Europa League trophy is online

Matthew Hallett

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