Eintracht Frankfurt boss Oliver Glasner believes his side cannot reach a higher level, despite their Europa League final win over Rangers on Wednesday ensuring Champions League football next season.
Glasner was full of praise for his side, who battled from a goal down following Joe Aribo’s 57th minute opener for Rangers to equalise via Rafael Borre and force extra-time at 1-1, before claiming a 5-4 penalty shootout win.
With the Europa League triumph, Eintracht will play in Europe’s premier cup competition for the first time since 1960 – where they eventually lost 7-3 in the final to Real Madrid – despite finishing 11th in the Bundesliga this season.
According to Glasner however, his side’s mentality is already that of a top team and as a result, he did not have to provide much instruction during intervals as the match progressed.
“No, there is no next level, it’s impossible,” Glasner said post-match. “I have to say a bit more about that. This year started difficult, but the players kept believing in themselves, what we told them, what we trained.
“That shows the character, mentality they have. The spirit developed, today we had players who weren’t eligible for Europe but they were never negative, they were not selfish, they did everything for success. That’s why I wasn’t surprised that even when it was difficult, our fans were louder than Rangers’ and they pushed us forward.”
“I told the players the most important thing is that the referee doesn’t stress us, we have to control rhythm and I said just go do your thing like we’ve done so far, and that’s it.”
Eintracht Frankfurt 1-1 Rangers [AET, Frankfurt win 5-4 on pens]
42 years after winning the UEFA Cup in 1980, Eintracht Frankfurt win the famous trophy again. An intensely competitive final sealed in the most heartbreaking fashion.#EuropaLeagueFinal pic.twitter.com/j5CghnGCDq
— The Analyst (@OptaAnalyst) May 18, 2022
After an intense first half, Eintracht started to see more of the ball as the game slowed down but it did not translate into substantial opportunities and Aribo’s opener could have further deflated their play.
The Eagles maintained in approach and eventually restored parity through Borre, beating Calvin Bassey to the ball and direct Filip Kostic’s cross home in the 69th minute.
Glasner also singled out the 26-year-old Colombian, who scored the equaliser and winning penalty after Aaron Ramsey’s attempt in the shootout was saved by Kevin Trapp, claiming the performance and outcome is reflective of the work he puts in.
“Rafa is incredibly important, not only the goals but he works hard even defensively and at half-time we showed the players some situations from the first half,” Glasner said. “We didn’t have the intensity in attack and Rangers defended that well.
“We had to invest everything, attack the front post and he did that very well. He ran and then had a really good chance. He fought really hard – he deserved it. He was great. He really helps us and is also a leader.”