THE always-excellent James Cantrill (@JimmyThePunt) shares his favourite fancies from the Europa League final between Eintracht Frankfurt and Rangers.
Eintracht Frankfurt vs Rangers | Wednesday 18th May 2022, 20:00 | BT Sport
Rangers road to the final has been a rocky one, two managers and five defeats goes a little way to explaining why they are 2/1 outsiders here but Giovanni van Bronckhorst side have already brushed aside two German juggernauts en route to Seville, so dismiss them at your peril.
The contrast in tactic and philosophies between van Bronckhorst and his predecessor suggest there was little consideration for contingency when appointing him.
Steven Gerrard’s success was built on a solid, defensive spine that looked to restrict space and combat overloads. The Dutchman has prioritised flexibility over predictability, walking a tactical tightrope that has seen him deploy a number of different strategies to combat their opponents.
This has led to some thrilling encounters at Ibrox- their four knock-out games have seen 15 goals- and in this coas his squad have thrived.
Traditionally, any final is a cagey affair. With the stakes so high, clubs rarely commit offensively and the game becomes increasingly tight. The most recent example coming at the weekend at Wembley as the FA Cup final went two hours without a goal before being settled on penalties. However, this competition does not fit the mould in that lacklustre sense.
Since this competition became the Europa League there have been 12 finals, during which 35 goals have been scored, that is an average of 2.9 per game.
Die Adler are unbeaten on route to Seville, scoring 20 goals in the process, a figure only fellow finalists Rangers can top (22). All of which lends itself to an entertaining final and goes a little way to explaining why over 2.5 goals is odds on.
It is worth pointing out that since van Bronckhorst took the reins at Ibrox he has overseen ten European games, four of which have seen unders clicked and 75% of these came on the road.
This pattern depicts the Gers defensive tactics away from home. van Bronckhorst’s side have lost their last two European matches away from home 1-0, their most recent of which was at RB Leipzig in a fixture they saw less than 30% of possession and could only muster one shot on target.
With the Dutch supremo set to adopt an equally pragmatic approach here, the goals market may be best avoided.
I think cards are the way to go in this clash and Betfair’s price of 5/6 for the game to feature over 4.5 appeals.
The man in charge is Solvenian Slavko Vincic, he has overseen 19 UEL games throughout his career, brandishing 80Y and two red cards, an average of over four per game. He is yet to referee a game in this competition this season but in the Champions League he has averaged 4.01 cards per game.
Since 2010, the 12 UEL finals have seen 58 cards dished out in normal time, that is an average of 4.83 per game. Half have met the 4.5 line, five of which have come since 2015 though.
Eintracht Frankfurt are the competition side with the worst discipline, topping the charts for fouls committed (186) and cards (33). In their 12 games so far, they have averaged 2.6 cards per game.
By comparison, Rangers have a much cleaner record, picking up 24 yellows and one red card. Their eight knock-out games have seen an average of four cards per game with the second leg fixtures seen five per game.
With everything pointing to a feisty game, I also think it is worth delving into the player card market and Glen Kamara’s price of 4/1 with Unibet looks worth taking on.
Domestically, he is far from notorious. In fact, in a career spanning eight seasons and 160 domestic appearances, he has only accumulated 12 cards. Based on that fact, 12/1 would only just be worth backing.
Something must happen to him on the continent. In 31 UEL appearances, he has racked up nine bookings and one red card- a card per 90 average of 0.37- so, given the occasion, 5/2 would be worth a punt at the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán.
Eintracht Frankfurt vs Rangers – Over 4.5 Cards (5/6 Betfair)
Eintracht Frankfurt vs Rangers – Glen Kamara Card (4/1 Unibet)